Times of uncertainty may cause anxiety in some of us; this can be diagnosed, general anxiety, or a newfound sense of worry due to the current situation. Many of our typical coping mechanisms are unavailable at this time; such as going to the gym, relaxing on the beach, or spending time with friends. Because of a shift to our daily routines indefinitely, various changes in our mental health may occur, and this is completely normal and expected. Until the uncertainty of our situation is improved, here is a list of socially-distant coping mechanisms that may ease emotional distress for the time being.
1. Create a daily To-Do list.
The thought of unproductivity is daunting for some of us, especially when our typical routines include checking off various tasks to attain the feeling of accomplishment. While we may feel that it is difficult to find things to accomplish without leaving the house, it is not impossible! Lists can be small: begin with, “make breakfast”, or, “change bedding”. Checking off small victories on your to-do list is incredibly rewarding, and can increase general motivation by clearing your mental space.
2. Work on small projects.
There is something small that can be done around you, all it takes is a little creativity to find it! Have you ever wanted to create a vision board, to highlight and organize all of your biggest goals? By visualizing your dreams and creating something beautiful, we can create excitement for the future and increase our personal productivity. If a vision board is not your forte, then find another project around your house to take up! Clean your car, move the furniture in your bedroom around, or try painting how you feel. Your imagination is truly endless!
3. Get your heart pumping – in a healthy way.
Anxiety can come in many forms. For some of us, the physical sensation of a rapidly beating heart or fidgeting is quite common, and is an aggravating feeling. Many people take up exercise as a coping strategy for chronic anxiety. This is partially due to the endorphins released during exercise, and the feeling of accomplishment after completing a tough workout. It is common for athletes to mimic their feelings of general anxiety in a healthy way; this can be through running, swimming, or walking at a fast pace. Try tricking your brain into thinking it is anxious, while also working on your personal well-being through exercise.
4. Spend some time away from the media.
The news can often be a scary and daunting form of entertainment. For those of us that have anxiety affected by external or environmental forces, watching the news or reading Twitter articles may cause unnecessary anxiety. However, while it is important to not over-saturate your mind with the current situation, we must remain generally informed and present. Try not to obsess with the current situation by limiting your viewing time of media, if not only checking it once per day. Remain informed but not obsessed, and you will see how your mind becomes calmer from not being preoccupied with distressing information.
5. Recognize what is going well in your current situation
While we are all stuck at home, and it is unfortunate, this is the perfect time to work on self-care and reflect on the things that matter the most to us. Because of our situation, you might be getting more sleep, or spending quality time with your family. You might be having meaningful conversations with loved ones, or working on your eating habits. You might pick up a hobby you used to love, but had forgotten about in your hectic daily life. It is important to recognize the good in the situation and capitalize on it. While the world is working on healing itself, work on healing yourself, too.
Remember, that while some anxiety is healthy and normal, there are many people who care about your well-being and various resources that exist to help you cope with especially tough times. Please take the time to recognize when your mental health is not fluctuating normally, or if you are struggling to cope with your emotions in a healthy and productive way. Below is a list of resources that are willing to help you in any way you may need. Please, remember that your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and remaining socially distant can be a time of personal healing and progress if you want it to be.
- Dani Pickett
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357) Boys Town National Hotline: 1-800-448-3000