Life as you know it seems to have changed. Loss of social gatherings and sporting events. Working from home. Online learning for kids. No more (or limited) dining at restaurants or using public transportation. What’s the new normal?
You might be feeling grief for losing some aspects of your previous routines or feeling anxiety about not knowing what’s next. During a crisis, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed at times. You might believe there is a lot of uncertainty, making it harder to cope with change. Left unrecognized or ignored, anxiety and stress can have serious negative consequences on your physical, emotional, and mental health. Don’t dismiss the mind-body connection.
These five strategies can help you manage your feelings.
Call it what it is. To address your emotions, you need to acknowledge them. Name what you are feeling -- whether it’s fear, sadness, anxiety, or anger. Admit what you are feeling, with no apology. Once you acknowledge your emotions, you can then start to address them. It’s truly the first step.
Control what you can. You are not going to be able to impact what is happening in another part of the country. You can, however, control what is happening in your home and community. Make sure you have enough food and medicine in case you need to self-quarantine. Set up high-speed internet so everyone in the family can use the internet at the same time. Practice hand-washing and cleaning/sanitizing surfaces to keep you and your family safe. Control is power.
Consistency is key. We are creatures of habit. Losing routines can elevate stress. If you lost some routines such as going to/from work, make new ones. Wake up and go to sleep at the same time. Plan your work schedule ahead of time. Consistency in your day will help decrease some anxiety you might be feeling by not having a routine.
Connect in new ways. Humans tend to be social by nature. Although socializing with family and friends in person may be on hold, you can create new ways to connect. Do happy hour with friends or colleagues through a video-conferencing platform. Take time to actually talk on the phone. Sit down for dinner every night as a family. Go out for walks in your neighborhood with appropriate social distancing so you can still see friends. Staying connected will help keep you from getting depressed and lonely.
Closure will come. This pandemic will end. We may not know yet how, or exactly when, but we do know that what you are going through now is temporary. Therefore, focus on the present. Go to trusted sources for information while also limiting the amount of time you spend on the coronavirus topic. Avoid information overload. Become aware but not scared.
By the Numbers
18%. Percentage of Americans who suffer from anxiety each year.
10 minutes. Amount of daily meditation that research shows can improve focus.
272 million. Number of smartphone users in the U.S.
80%. Percentage of households with broadband internet.
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