Taking care of your well-being and extending the help to others is what matters now amid the ongoing chaos outside our homes.
Since the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the country, the status of confirmed COVID-19 cases has alarmingly increased in number. March witnessed a steady rise and it seemed like a terribly long month for all of us. Along with the ambiguous plans of the national government came the extension of the ECQ. Although only a few more days were added to the lockdown (at least for now), it is understandable as to why one can get agitated at the mere uncertainty of it all. Once the quarantine period ends, what happens next?
While we remain in the safety of our homes but the anxiety, panic, and fear of the unpredictable future constantly disturb us. It might even reach a point where our fears spiral out of control. So, how do we deal with it? In a time of unrest, how do we cope with anxieties and help others do the same?
Misinformation and ignorance of facts can easily fuel panic and create a sense of uncertainty. While it is good to keep yourself informed with the latest news, you may need to keep your feelings in check. Staying on social media to constantly check updates aggravates stress. You can become counterproductive and worse, unable to absorb new information. To counter this, limit yourself from social media consumption. You can step away if you feel overwhelmed. Ask help from someone to update you if there is any major news. Most importantly, be alert on the information you share. Verify if it comes from reliable sources like the official news networks or the World Health Organization.
Break down sources of anxiety
Dr. John Sharp, a board-certified psychiatrist from the Harvard Medical School, advises to break down your sources of anxiety. In this way, you can distance yourself from it and better control how you respond. “Recognize that the percentage of feelings that stem from the past do not have to govern how you necessarily feel in the present,” he shares. If you are able to separate what you felt before from how you are feeling now, then you would have time to breathe. This prevents anxiety from clouding our thoughts and allows you to clearly think of ways to deal with the things you can control.
You may have come across posts on your timelines about refraining from being strict over productivity. With an ongoing crisis, there is no doubt about how difficult it can get to concentrate on our tasks. Dr. Harriet Lerner clarifies fear and anxiety will eventually subside but will return. She advises, “don’t be hard on yourself when you can’t shut yourself off from fear and pain—your own and the world’s. Fear isn’t fun, but it signals that you are fully human.” So, try to give yourself time to unwind. Rather than calling yourself out for not being productive all the time, create the space to process everything. Being gentle to yourself is what you need to calm the chaos in your head.
As we remain quarantined in our respective homes, we can start to feel loneliness as a result of social isolation. Dr. Vivek Murthy defines loneliness as “the subjective feeling that you’re lacking the social connections you need—the feeling of closeness, trust and affection of genuine friends, loved ones and community.” Although you have to remain physically isolated, this doesn’t mean you continue to be socially isolated. Whether through phone calls or video chats, you must remain connected with your loved ones. Reaching out to them or to your neighbors “reaffirms to yourself that you’re bringing value to the world,” Dr. Murthy explains. A short message or helping out in different ways can go a long way to building and strengthening relationships. Thinking of others takes your mind away from your anxious thoughts and gives a greater purpose to focus on while on quarantine.
Follow self-care routine
Amid the chaos of the crisis, among the essentials to focus on these days is your self-care routine. From doing mindfulness techniques, taking up online yoga classes, doing spiritual practices, creating artworks, filling up your journal, and watching series, doing what relaxes you is an immense help to easing out your anxieties. What matters the most right now is for you to stay sane and in good health. Do what you need to achieve that; every way is equally valid, after all.
Fear of the ongoing crisis is never something to be ashamed of. It is understandable as everyone is dealing with it these days in varying degrees. Although it is difficult to be productive in the same way we were before the pandemic hit, we must not be harsh on ourselves. Take a break even if we are not overwhelmed. If we are resolving our own anxieties, then it is easier to extend the help to others. What matters the most right now is caring for our overall well-being. It is an unprecedented time after all, and we must exercise every ounce of self-care to come out of this hopefully unscathed.