Coping with the Coronavirus Pandemic
How to manage stress and anxiety in the new abnormal.
We're all struggling through these strange times together. It's natural to feel anxious when facing uncertainty. We can help one another by showing kidness and patience to loved ones and strangers alike.
Here's some more advice to help you cope with self-isolation, sheltering in place, and the pandemic more generally.
Get credible information
There's a lot being written about the coronavirus, and much of it can have a sensationalist slant. When in doubt, seek out info from the following sources first:
Accept that some anxiety is normal
Uncertainty is perfectly natural as the world comes to grips with COVID-19. Don't feel ashamed of your insecurity. Try to channel your anxiety into a motivating factor: you're suffering now to protect yourself and others.
Develop and stick to a routine
Building some stability into your day is important during turbulent times. We offer some advice on studying from home, but you can go further.
Plan fun activities at home, or schedule a call with friends and family. Don't neglect your usual habits, either. Getting up to shower in the morning is still important, even if no one will see you!
Schedule some time to unplug
Some of us feel a need for the latest news and coronavirus statistics, but be careful about overloading.
Take some time to disconnect from your phone, computer, and even social media. If you're a hopeless addict — like most of us — consider scheduling some time to do so.
Instead, do something healthy and fun just for you, like exercising, reading, or working on a personal project.
Exchange your latest Netflix binge for some YouTube bodyweight exercises. Staying active is key, especially since so many of us are indoors right now. There's still lots you can do. Don't be afraid to go for a walk, either, so long as you practice safe social distancing.
Your body and mind are one, so be sure to be kind to all aspects of yourself. You'll feel better and more refreshed if you keep exercising.
Remember you're resilient: be careful with "What ifs"
When we're stressed, we often focus on the worst case scenario. In these moments, we have a tendency to overestimate how bad things will be, and underestimate our capacity to cope.
Remind yourself that you've handled stress before. In fact, you do it every day! Think about some times where you've endured anxiety and uncertainty. What helped you cope then?
Try to reframe the issue. Instead of catastrophizing, think of this as a difficult time that we'll all get through together. Don't underestimate yourself!
Seek out support
Just because you're socially distant doesn't mean you can't be social. When you're feeling stressed, seek out and connect with people.
You may also consider an online therapy program. Many people find therapy helpful, and there's no better time to try it digitally than during social distancing.
Assess your stress levels
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, one of the country's leading mental healthcare providers, has developed a two-part survey to help you assess your stress levels and vulnerability to symptoms of depression. These tests are not to be taken as a medical diagnosis, but merely to help contextualize your own stress response and coping capacity.
Remember why you're doing this!
Coronavirus spreads rapidly, and the world has seen, as of March 27, nearly half a million cases. While most cases are mild or moderate, even healthy people can be seriously injured by the disease. Even if you feel like you're young, strong, and can handle it, you can still pass the disease on to someone more vulnerable, putting them at risk.
We need to act as one to flatten the curve. Staying socially distant is an act of altruism and generosity to others. Focusing on the good you're doing, even if it might not feel like much, can help the stress, anxiety, and uncertainty feel worth it.
This global pandemic is unstable terrain for every one of us. We need to stand together as a world community to protect our collective health. It's perfectly normal to be stressed out in these trying times. Be kind to yourself and others. We'll get through this together.