During a pandemic, not only is there the stress and worry of a disease spreading worldwide, but the impact of enforced lockdown can cause a lot of psychological challenges as well. One of the most challenging aspects of living through a pandemic is the uncertainty that it brings, which can increase stress and make it difficult to cope. Luckily, there are steps you can take to reduce anxiety and stay sane during the pandemic.
1. Do Some Exercise
One of the best ways to keep yourself physically and mentally fit is to engage in some regular exercise. When you exercise, the levels of serotonin (the hormone responsible for improving your mood) increase. At the same time, your cortisol levels (often referred to as the stress hormone) are reduced. Exercise is a great way to keep your mind distracted from worrying, whilst providing you with a range of health benefits, including helping to improve your immune system.
Another fantastic way to help ease anxiety and alleviate stress during a pandemic is to engage in some mindful practice, such as meditation.
When practiced regularly, mindful practice can provide you with skills and tools which not only allow you to become more resilient, but also better equipped to deal with challenging situations. Spend some time focusing on your breath and trying to clear your mind. If you find silent meditation too challenging at this time, give guided meditation a go. There are many apps on offer, with many now available for free.
3. Spend Time Outdoors
Spending time outdoors in nature has been shown to help reduce stress levels. The practice of grounding involves spending some time outdoors connecting with the earth itself through your senses. By spending time focusing on the present and the sensations of your body, you can interrupt the worry cycle and reset. Try spending some time outdoors and reconnect with nature by walking in the grass barefoot, sitting against a tree or even going for a swim.
4. Reduce Media Consumption
Rather than providing you with space away from the worry, high levels of media consumption (including social media) can actually fuel your anxiety and worry. Whilst it’s important to ensure you have access to timely and accurate information, make sure to obtain it from a credible, trusted source. Limit your news consumption to twice a day to reduce feeling overwhelmed.
5. Learn A New Skill
Instead of spending time worrying about the pandemic, take the opportunity to learn a new skill or take up a new hobby or project. This is a great opportunity to start on a project you may have been wanting to do but not had the opportunity or time to do before. Engaging in learning can have similar effects to those of exercise, increasing serotonin whilst reducing cortisol levels. As well as improving your mood, it will also help to distract you from the pandemic.
6. Enjoy Everyday Pleasures
Take this time to readjust your routine and spend some time rediscovering everyday pleasures.
Some people find that engaging in daily tasks or chores in a more mindful way can help to ease worry and helps them find inner calm. Some easy ways to achieve this are to spend a bit more time making meals, enjoying eating food and paying more attention to daily chores and tasks as you do them.
7. Spend Time With Pets
Spending time with animals has been shown to help reduce stress and anxiety, as well as help reduce the chances of depression and lower the chances of illness. There have also been studies which have found that spending time with animals can lead to increased longevity. During a pandemic, taking some time to play with your pets can be a lovely way to unplug from worry and simply enjoy being present to each moment.
Whilst the future may seem worrying during a pandemic, by taking some time to meditate, reconnect with nature and each other, you can stay sane and cope more successfully with the situation. You can even look at the situation positively, by taking pleasure in learning a new skill or enjoying undertaking some exercise and finding a more balanced, healthier way of living.