Quarantine is getting old for lots of folks, especially for those who are living alone or are apart from significant loved ones. Here are some healthy ways to manage anxiety during quarantine.
Give yourself a break
Since we are all stuck at home, we should be more productive, right? You WILL feel better when you are productive, but you will also find there are days you need to sit and read or binge Netfix. This is normal and okay.
But not for too long
What you will find is: If there are too many days where you are sitting, doing nothing, you may begin to feel more anxious and depressed. This may be because your mind and body need stimulation. The anxiety and depression may be one way your mind and body tells you to feed it with something to do. (In a similar way, your stomach growls and makes you uncomfortable when it needs some food to digest.)
How can you handle the long-time quarantine?
Create new routines
Quarantines require new routines. Write yourself a schedule for the week (or each evening for the next day). Try making it a gentle schedule (rather than hour-by-hour, write:
When I get up, I will do these things:
Before lunch, I will do these things:
Before dinner, I will do these things:
After dinner, I will do these things:
When you have your ideas for the upcoming day already written out, your brain doesn’t waste any time when you wake up in the morning on decision fatigue. You are also less likely to spend the entire morning scrolling through social media.
Add something new each day to the routine
The sameness is paralyzing. People keep joking that life feels like Groundhog Day because we are stuck in our four walls all day, every day, doing the same things over and over. This causes anxiety, for sure!
It doesn’t matter what the new thing is, but do something new each day. (It doesn’t even need to be interesting, just new) :
Cook a new recipe.
Go out for a walk in a different park.
Try out a new craft you found on YouTube.
Try a new yoga exercise.
Take a class on Edx, Udemy, Coursera, etc.
REALLY. It doesn’t need to be interesting, it just needs to be new. You will find it makes you feel better!
Do a good deed daily
If you make a point of adding a daily good deed to your routines during quarantine, you will feel better. Doing good deeds helps things feel more under control because it is something YOU choose to do. Research has found that doing good deeds also improves health and well-being.
It doesn’t matter about the significance of the good deed. It doesn’t need to be interesting. It just needs to be something that you don’t expect a return from. You could:
Write your old grandma a real letter and mail it.
Bake some cookies and do a social distancing drop off to friends or the old lady down the street.
Smile at the grocery store checkout team and tell them, “Thanks”.
Send your pcp or other favorite doctors a thank you note.
Marie Kondo your closet and do a dropoff at Goodwill or call Purple Heart.
Become a digital volunteer for your favorite political campaign, cause or charity. Google it. There is plenty of information on how-to.
Do something creative daily
Give your body and soul some art and/or music opportunities. Research has shown that creativity is a way of improving our health.
Color. (Download some freebie coloring pages from my resources tab.)
Paint, sew (even sewing masks is creative), sculpt, watch Bob Ross reruns.
Learn to sing or play an instrument (you can watch how-to’s on YouTube), listen to new kinds of music or old favorites.
Make sure your self-care is part of your routine
One thing that contributes to anxiety is dehydration, so drink your water.
Eat enough healthy foods (fruits, vegetables and proteins are the building blocks for neurotransmitter production). Healthy neurotransmitter levels help manage or mitigate anxiety and depression.
Exercise burns off stress hormones, increases dopamine production – which improves the mood and energy levels.
Practice good sleep hygiene. (Limit naps in the daytime, do calming and happy things close to bedtime, do breathing exercises when you go to bed.) Download this freebie on progressive relaxation/deep breathing.
Have a daily dose of laugher
When the Bible said (Proverbs 17:22) that a merry heart does good like a medicine, it was right! Laughter causes the release of endorphins which improve well being and reduce pain. Find ways to make laughter happen.
Watch a silly YouTube channel or favorite Netflix series.
Go online to clean jokes or dad jokes site and read till you laugh.
Practice gratitude daily
You might be surprised how much better you feel body and soul when you practice gratitude. Start a gratitude journal. It’s easy.
Get outside daily
Sunlight provides Vitamin D which enhances mood and immune system. Try to get outside, even for five minutes.
Spending a little time around trees can improve your health. Being near trees could boost your mood, immune system, focus, sleep quality and energy levels.
Find ways to connect reasonably often
Loneliness is bad for your health. During quarantine you have to actively work against loneliness. Be creative. Anything healthy counts.
Take a social distancing walk with friends or family around the neighborhood or a park.
Experiment with phone calls, text threads, Marco Polos, FaceTimes, Voxers with positive friends and family.
Try digital events with friends and family like cooking, games, puzzles, read- alouds, movie nights.
Zoom lunches with friends.
If you feel overwhelmed with anxiety or depression, reach out
Please do not simply wait for the feelings to pass. There is help and hope. Phone a trusted friend, family member or pastor. If you have a counselor, schedule an appointment.
If you are having feelings or thoughts of self harm or suicidal thoughts:
This quarantine won’t last forever. Invest in yourself and others while it does last.