I don’t know about you, but I have been feeling some major pandemic fatigue over the last month. I feel like I am still trying to process the last year on so many levels. There is no doubt about it; we are living in a historical moment. The last year has changed billions of lives worldwide forever. It forced us to change or cancel our plans, stay away from loved ones, and alter our lifestyle in so many ways. However, for most people, the pandemic’s worst aspect is uncertainty. The future implications of COVID-19 are still unknown, and many of us wonder whether our lives would be the same ever again.
There are so many doubts and worries. When will life get back to normal? When will the schools fully re-open? When will we be able to travel again? Will my loved ones stay healthy? How long will we have to practice social distancing? Am I going to struggle financially? Am I going to get sick?
Self-isolation and social distancing prevent the spread of the virus and save lives. Yet, during the past year, many of us have felt lonelier and more isolated than ever.
It is natural to feel anxious, concerned, and afraid during a pandemic. However, excessive or lasting stress and anxiety can weaken your stress-management strategies and damage your well-being.
So, here are a few tools for dealing with uncertainty during the pandemic to help you raise resilience and overcome coronavirus anxiety.
1) Put Self-Care First
Self-care is the best strategy for overcoming emotional and mental challenges during a crisis. While there is no one-size-fits-all strategy, most people consider self-care as pleasurable activities or those that help them relax and maintain overall well-being.
Regular physical activity, healthy sleep habits, mindfulness, enjoyable hobbies, social interaction, and rest are essential aspects of self-care.
Self-care tools should be customized to your needs. Therefore, any activity that helps boost resilience and improves your mood and mental health can be considered an aspect of self-care. Consider some of the following:
- Mindfulness meditation
- Good sleep
- Gratitude exercise
- Long walks
- A good book
- Watching your favorite movie or TV show
- Breathing exercise
- Cuddling up with your favorite blanket
- Virtual cooking classes
- Spending time with pets
- Positive affirmations
- Digital detox
- Setting boundaries
During the pandemic, self-care strategies can reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression, boost optimism, and promote feelings of comfort and safety.
2) Welcome Laughter Back into Your Life
Laughter releases the brain neurotransmitters known as happiness hormones (dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins). These hormones reduce depression, relieve physical pain, and make us feel good. Research shows that the calming effects of endorphins encourage feelings of safety.
Laughter impacts the limbic system, the center in the brain in charge of emotions and essential survival functions, helping fight stress, and improving your problem-solving abilities.
It helps relieve tension, promotes flexible thinking, and boosts creativity. Laughter helps us maintain our sense of humor regardless of the situation’s difficulty, improving our confidence and increasing our energy levels.
3) Practice Grounding
Grounding is a therapeutic strategy that helps control negative thoughts by turning your attention away from them and focusing on the present moment.
It is a coping strategy often used to manage PTSD flashbacks.
Here is a simple grounding exercise that you can practice when experiencing stress, fear, and anxiety:
Look around you, notice and name:
- Five things you can see
- Four things you can touch
- Three things you can hear
- Two things you can smell
- One thing you can taste
4) Stay in Touch
Although social distancing measures might make it impossible to spend time with loved ones physically, modern technologies make social contacts possible even during the lockdown. Organize a virtual party online with your friends, have a cocktail hour dressed in fancy party outfits, or have online birthday parties and anniversaries.
Check up on your loved ones regularly, as this provides a sense of togetherness, safety, and care.
5) Travel Virtually
Maybe city breaks in European cities or leisurely beach days in the Caribbean are not in your cards this year, but this still doesn’t mean you cannot travel. Tour the world from your sofa and explore all those places you haven’t had the opportunity to visit so far.
Virtual travel allows you to spend digital days at the world’s most beautiful beaches, tour the Louvre or MoMa in your PJs, and explore the famous World Heritage Sites such as the Great Wall of China, Taj Mahal Machu Picchu.
6) Seek Support
If you feel that your coping strategies are not strong enough to handle anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic on your own, seek mental health counseling or a life coach for support. Online or phone sessions are an excellent option during the pandemic. Remember that help and support are available.
These are some things I have been doing to support my mental health and to help manage the fatigue and uncertainty I have been feeling lately. I hope these tools are helpful for you, but above all, go easy on yourself during these challenging times.