Man, it’s been a tough few weeks. Ironically enough, it’s the catalyst that pushed me to write again. I penned my last post more than a year ago and as I type this, guilt is going through my mind. You know, the kind one feels when stepping into a gym after months of absence, or on a scale after the holidays.
In hindsight, my aforementioned thoughts are exactly the opposite of what we should be doing to ourselves these days. Pressure abounds as we fight feelings of self-doubt, fear, confusion, and sheer isolation in light of COVID-19 and its latest developments. Perhaps you are numb and not ready to face it all at once. And that’s OK too. Because we are not alone.
Let’s be honest. So far, 2020 has been less than stellar. This pandemic is no joke and what started with a ‘wash your hands’ and use antibacterial sanitizer mantra quickly escalated to pandemonium and toilet paper shortages in a matter of minutes.
Without a doubt we are living in anxiety-induced times fueled by fluidity from a rapidly growing virus. Vacations are suddenly cancelled, streets once vibrant feel more like ghost towns, workplaces are shuttering until further notice, and social distancing is what the doctor ordered — literally. Many of my friends are now jobless and the thought of an almost imminent recession is downright scary.
I suffer from severe anxiety disorder, receive treatment, and am well aware of how daunting it feels to not have a grasp or even a semblance of control. Finances and job security are my main triggers and right now, the economy is in shambles. While I know it will recover, I still worry about the long-term effects from this crisis. I feel paralyzed.
My days are anything but mundane now that we’re all officially working from home. I remind myself to avoid building a portfolio of excessive emotional real estate after an abundance of catastrophic thoughts. Flattening the curve and dealing with this crisis is a one-day-at-a-time process.
Here are eight solid ways I’m prioritizing my mental stability during the next few weeks while being “safer at home.” So let’s dig in:
1. Map out a schedule
Get up, shower, and hit the ground running! Start your day by writing out a to-do list because during stressful times, crossing off completed tasks gives me a sense of accomplishment. Schedules are often perceived as too regimented, but it’s the type of structure prone to boost productivity.
2. Creative Self-Care
There is no time like the present to indulge in a warm bath, a long shower or even hitting the snooze button more than twice. Charlie and I are cooking healthy meals and testing recipes together to avoid snacking all day. For a spa-like ambiance, I add eucalyptus to my showers and light a candle right before bed, so I feel refreshed and recharged in the morning.
3. Be Active
Vitamin D does a body (and mind) good! I enjoy walks around the neighborhood to stay focused and my pilates studio G:50 has daily online workouts. At-home circuit training, yoga, and stretching also help reduce stress.
It’s called Spring cleaning, after all! My bathroom and guest room feel like brand new, and now it’s time to tackle drawers. Take advantage and get rid of unwanted clothes or put away winter gear. Just like establishing a routine and a solid to-do list, a tidy space increases your work potential.
5. Practice Gratitude
Albeit hard, this is a big one. Emotions are running high and it’s tough to put things into perspective. Take a moment and write down a few things you are thankful for every morning or night. I always find it very cathartic.
We can use a little ‘pick me up’ or cheer right now, so call, text, or video chat with friends and family. Thanks to technology we can make it all happen, and if you are old-fashioned like me, a little piece of snail mail also goes a long way.
7. Limit News Consumption
As a former TV news producer, I know this cycle all too well. I rely on credible sources and check only once a day, so my anxiety doesn’t flare up. Remember, journalists are working round the clock, but it’s solely up to us to set boundaries and avoid all this intake to exacerbate fear and trepidation.
8. Be kind to Yourself
Leave the tough love behind and find self-acceptance. Let go of toxic ideas and don’t believe everything you hear — after all, thoughts aren’t facts. I often end up exhausted and weak after beating myself up over something I ultimately can’t control.
And no matter what, through it all, one thing remains abundantly clear: We are all in this together.