As a means of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic with a heavy hand, governments across the world have mandated something that does not come very naturally to us: to stay away from each other. Naturally, human beings, a ‘social’ animal, were hitherto oblivious of the very idea of social distancing, until the outbreak came to existence. So now, in several countries around the world, we are stuck at home, either all alone or if lucky enough, with our spouses/families, and the only outing is a quick trip to the supermarket or local grocery store.
These increasingly stringent measures for social distancing, cooped up in their abodes, are bound to take a toll on our emotional well-being, as suggested by mental health experts worldwide. With all educational institutions, businesses, recreational hubs, etc. closing down, the minimal in-person interaction might pave the way for increased anxiety, fear, depression, and loneliness. Amidst such circumstances, let’s explore some of the ways to keep our sanity alive, besides taking care of our physical health.
a. Have A Distress Tolerance Plan
Be it a warm bath, a comedy movie, cooking, or a workout session, you would know best what triggers your happy hormones. Make sure you indulge in your favorite activities that have a therapeutic effect on your mind and body, so as not to succumb to the distress.
b. Give Yourself A Break From The News
We don’t mean to say you shouldn’t keep yourself updated at such a time of global crisis, but don’t overwhelm yourself with 24×7 exposure to news relating to the current state of affairs. Information overload, in today’s times, can be one of the primary causes of stress, often leading to physical manifestations in the form of headaches, gastrointestinal issues, elevated blood pressure, insomnia, and so on.
c. Take Care Of Your Health
Besides the basic measures to keep the coronavirus at bay, including washing hands frequently, using a sanitizer, and maintaining hygiene, it is also important, during this period of lockdown, to eat healthy and well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get sufficient sleep, and abstain from alcohol and drugs.
d. Have Meaningful Interactions With Your Family
We understand not all of us are fortunate enough to be with our families at the moment. But if you are, take this chance to spend some quality time with them, catching up on indoor activities that you had always planned but could never make time for. Play card and board games together, watch movies on Netflix (and the several other streaming platforms that are at our disposal these days, thankfully!), and connect to your parents, partners, children, and even pets, in a deeper way.
e. Make The Most Of Technology To Stay Connected
So snapshots of group video calls are doing the rounds of late, and we’re loving it! This is the time to engage in deeper social interactions with your long-distance friends, with Face-time, Skype, and so on. Even if you are in the same city, simply seeing their facial expressions and hearing their voices will mitigate the sense of isolation and “distancing”, so to say. Have a hearty conversation, exchange views, share ideas, or simply laugh your hearts out with them, and it will surely make you feel better.
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f. Remember You Are Not Alone
In a strange, inexplicable way, we are all bound in this shared state of boredom, frustration, anxiety, and irritability. Let this sink in that everyone around the globe has been affected by the pandemic, and you are not in an exclusive situation. This basic realization can also bring in a sense of reconciliation and calmness, so don’t forget to remind others too, that the feeling they are experiencing, are not theirs alone.
Perhaps the mantra to cope with the current scenario is to acknowledge what’s happening and still managing to do some benefit finding. As psychologists recommend, it is a crucial strategy to not be in denial of the distressing situation, and yet looking for the good in it. For example, if you are working from home, maybe you are enjoying more autonomy now! No matter how paradoxical it sounds, we are in the social distancing thing together, and we will live through it. And, this too shall pass.