2020 is the year of COVID-19 and the virus shows no signs of slowing down. It has claimed lives, closed down businesses, and upended our daily routines. Everyday we watch the news in the hopes that a vaccine has already been developed, but until that happens many of us are left in a state of perpetual helplessness and anxiety. These feelings are understandable as they help keep us mindful and safe, but they also need to be managed so that they do not keep us from enjoying our lives. Here are six suggestions:
1. Limit your exposure to information about the pandemic. Incessantly consuming news about the virus outbreak heightens and perpetuates anxiety. Rather than looking at the news channel all day, define specific times of day to watch the news or read updates.
2. Do things to lessen anxiety. Exercising, meditating and journaling are all good strategies for managing your anxiety levels.
3. Indulge in distractions. Reading a book, doing a puzzle, watching a movie, or playing a board game can help take your mind off the pandemic, even for just a little while.
4. Maintain a daily routine. If you live in a country that still has quarantine policies in place, odds are your typical daily regimen has been disrupted. Even if you are isolating at home, try to develop and keep to a revised routine. Predictable schedules provide a semblance of control and can ease anxiety.
5. Drink moderately. While consuming alcohol may relax you, it’s not a good long-term strategy. Many anxiety-sufferers report surges in anxiety the day following consumption of alcohol.
6. Consider professional counseling. Psychotherapy can be very helpful during times of extraordinary stress. Having a trained third party who can help you develop goals and support you as you learn to manage your struggle is highly important. Many mental health professionals and organizations have moved their operations to a telehealth format, which means you can seek help while practicing social distancing.
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Need someone to speak to? MindNation psychologists are available 24/7 if you need someone to talk to. Book a teletherapy session at bit.ly/mn-chat.