We have been on lock-down for months. Although the lock-downs in many areas are getting more lax, and we see the progressive reopening of social life, the quarantine is not over – many people will continue to work from home, continue to be stressed, and feel more anxiety than they ever have before.
Feeling anxious when you are in quarantine is normal, but there are some tips that can help you.
Those who are isolated might need to reduce their anxiety but are overcome with the crisis behind the global pandemic. The following tips are what I have found works best for managing my anxiety during the quarantine:
1- Disconnect From the Media
Overindulging in the media can cause panic. This was true, even pre-pandemic. Considering the crisis, cycling through media can make it hard to stay positive as you flip through the newest headlines. Anxiety will feed off those negative captions and breed more panic.
You should stay updated on the newest information on the pandemic. Updated health policies and fresh information are circulating quickly; but, limit your access. Choose a reputable source of information and check it only once a day. You will keep yourself updated on important facts and announcements but avoid spiralling into a negative mindset.
Social media is okay, but avoid reading too much about the crisis through posts and tweets. Those who are panicking themselves will not help you regain focus and happiness through their expression of anger or fear towards the situation.
2- Keep a Morning Routine
When the quarantine first started, I was laid off before my girlfriend. I continued studying from home to finish my semester until she eventually joined me in working from home.
She was shocked to find out I had kept the same morning routine as before the lockdown:
“why are you even getting dressed? Are you insane?”ex-girlfriend’s exact words
Well, no, I’m not insane!
Keeping a routine will help you achieve a sense of normalcy in an otherwise fucked situation. Everything happened so fast and we have little control over any of it. By keeping a morning routine, you can easily regain control and keep feeling normal.
Every morning I make my bed, eat breakfast, shower, and get dressed; if I must exercise that day, I will. I could opt to spend my days in pyjamas, eating cereal on the couch and watching Netflix, but I keep a routine, because it makes me happier and less anxious. I need not get dressed in the morning—I’m probably not even going to leave the house, but doing so subconsciously helps me be more productive. Accomplishing my tasks becomes easier once I finish my routine. It is too easy to feel depressed and lazy in sweatpants—wearing them feels like a bad hangover and lazy Sunday—put on real pants.
Try developing a routine you enjoy. Use mine or find something that works for you. The key is to keep yourself feeling active and in control of your situation.
3- Take Care of Yourself
Keep yourself healthy and feeling good. Incorporate self-care into your day. Make sure you are eating balanced meals and staying hydrated. A healthy body lowers anxiety and helps your brain keep out negative thoughts which are more potent during anxiety crisis.
Good sleep is important as well. Keep your sleep schedule constant to help you rest properly. Anxiety can make adequate sleep more difficult, and poor sleep helps foster further anxiety and depression. Consider subscribing to Your Brain Place—I will send you my free guide that covers everything you need to know about getting better sleep (coming soon).
The first step towards better sleep hygiene starts with maintaining a sleep schedule. Try waking up naturally (with no alarm) and going to bed when you feel fatigued. Doing so will help maintain the natural sleep-wake cycle of your body. Use an alarm only if you need it.
If you are sleeping more than usual (10h+), this could be a sign of depression and a negative mood—try the tips in this guide to lift your mood and adopt a better sleep hygiene. If your sleeping habits do not change, consider talking to a professional about your symptoms.
4- Stay Positive
When you change how you view your situation, you can change how you feel. This is the hallmark behind CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). Experts say that CBT significantly lowers negative thinking in many patients and is a recommended method to treat anxiety and depression. CBT is used to rewire the brain into more positive ways of appraising events and help patients realize their negative thought patterns.
Trained professionals guided CBT during therapy sessions, but you can still try to adopt a more positive outlook without professional help. While in quarantine, change how you view the situation. Focus on what good this has brought to your own life. For me, the quarantine has helped me start an extensive project and helped me reconnect with old relationships. I don’t forget that these are tough times, but I am making the best of it—I am sure you can as well.
Whatever your circumstances, do not concentrate on the negative.
The quarantine has broken the physical social connections we had. But I still considers us “lucky” to have this happen in an age where virtual communication is blooming. Social media and online applications have made it easier than ever to communicate with close ones from around the world.
When you are feeling alone and feel anxiety overcome you, reach out to friends and family. Talking with others will clear your mind and help you feel in control. At the very least your friends and family will listen to your worries and offer advice on their own or just a friendly ear.
Anxiety and depression make us retreat into our minds and away from the outside world, but doing so strengthens the negative thought patterns and fuels isolation. Reach out and keep socializing, even if you cannot yet do it in person.
There are many ways in which exercise keeps your brain healthy. Many studies and experts have noted the beneficial effects of exercise on the brain when managing anxiety or depression  .
Staying active is possibly the simplest and most holistic treatment you can have for yourself. Implementing a regular exercise routine to your daily activities will help keep you calm and feeling good.
The thought of exercising can make those who are less active feel uneasy. I recommend starting slowly in that case—a daily walk is a good place to start. Once you are comfortable exercising daily, you can switch to a higher intensity aerobic exercise, such as jogging. Consistent, higher intensity exercises have shown faster results in anxiety management, although even light exercise is better than none .
If you want to know more about the benefits of exercise, I suggest checking out my article on treating anxiety with exercise.
Exercising as little as once or twice a week can go a long way. Do not be afraid to start small—you will see improvements in your mood gradually. And soon you will want to exercise every day!
7- Get Fresh air
The end of May is on its way, and the sun has shown its face. Although great for summer vacation, bbqs, and feeling fantastic; it isn’t great when you are stuck on lockdown.
Staring out the window into endless sunshine could be a trigger for your FOMO (fear of missing out). Activities otherwise lost might spark a negative thought pattern as you stare out the window and reminisce summers past.
The fact is, being trapped indoors amidst brilliant weather is a bummer. Social distancing is essential, but I found that there is no reason you can’t still enjoy the sun.
Going outside at least once a day helps lift my mood immediately. I suggest getting outside first thing in the morning. The fresh air and sunshine will snap you into focus and start your day on the right foot. If you respect social distancing, there is no reason you can’t phone a friend for a walk around your area while you enjoy coffee and good company—just keep your distances!
Bonus tip – Don’t be Afraid to ask for Help
Sometimes, things are too difficult, and our circumstances feel overwhelming. If you are feeling depressed or anxious; or if you notice a significant change in your habits and overall mood, reach out to a professional who can help. It is okay to need an extra hand sometimes, especially in times like these. Internet tips can only go so far, even mine (joke). Look for other resources when you have trouble implementing changes yourself and your mood doesn’t improve.
Don’t take your mental health for granted. I’ve written a few ways you can find help in your area:
- Google is your friend: a Google search will find many resources which can help you.
- Check your Government pages. Governments understand the pandemic’s impact on mental health. They have created resource pages and outlets for you to contact in case of need. This is from the Government of Canada’s page on Taking Care of Your Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/mental-health.html
- Cities, Universities, and many Organizations offer programs to help employees or students with mental health and other needs. Refer to them as need.
These are hard times, but with each other’s help and our loved ones we can succeed! Thanks for reading and stay happy!