In just the space of a week, everyday American life has begun to shut down.
Schools, businesses, large events—and now even restaurants and bars in some cities—have shuttered as fear of COVID-19 spreads across the country. Social distancing has begun to take hold, as millions of Americans begin the process of holing up inside of their homes. Some have even been cut off from beloved family members as nursing homes continue to quarantine residents to protect elderly populations most vulnerable to this dangerous respiratory illness.
It’s no surprise that many of us are dealing with mounting anxiety as uncertainty about what comes next and how the pandemic will affect our lives grows.
“Our brains evolved to monitor our environment for signs of danger. During an outbreak like this we are flooded with frightening messages about the risks to us, to the ones we care about, and to our daily routines. This can push our anxiety system into ‘overdrive’ making it hard to focus on anything but the disease,” according to Yale Medicine’s blog.
Many experts acknowledge that the fear and anxiety around this pandemic can feel overwhelming, so it’s more important than ever to be both a caregiver and to practice self-care.
“Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger,” advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
So what are some things we can do to help us stay calm? Try these five strategies to help you—and your family—manage the fear and fretting sparked by the spread of the coronavirus.
Turn Off the News
First things first: Control your media consumption. While it’s important to stay abreast of new developments and keep informed about protecting against the coronavirus, enough is enough. Limit the amount of information you read or watch about the pandemic every day and don’t immerse yourself in social media. Restricting screen time (this goes for kids stuck at home, too) can be key to helping you maintain your cool.
Practicing social distancing doesn’t mean you have to entirely cut off access to the outside world. For example, taking walks, biking, or running outside can help you control your anxiety with exercise as well as help break up the monotony of being indoors so much. Avoid crowded tracks, though, and take a run in the woods instead.
Take Advantage of Time With Your Family
With school and business closure ramping up across the country, most of us are about to spend a lot more time with our families. Why not take advantage? Play board games with the kids and make an extravagant meal with your partner. Yes, your kids might get on your nerves. So, mindfully acknowledge that annoyance toward them and then kiss it goodbye. Treasure this time.
Arrange Video Dates
It’s so important that during quarantines and while practicing social distancing that you don’t isolate yourself completely. This is critical for both you and for loved ones in your lives who don’t live in your home. Arranging a video date with your best friend, sibling, or parent can provide emotional support during trying times. Even conducting work meetings via video and communicating with your coworkers face-to-face can help keep you anchored in your community.
Rely on Your Normal Self-Care Routine
Practicing your regular wellness routine can help maintain a semblance of normalcy in your life. Using tools like meditation, yoga, mantra, and prayer can give you the support you need to keep calm. Keeping up with regular sleep hygiene habits is key. If you normally practice yoga in a class, try an online lesson. Wellness app Down Dog is providing free access to its digital lessons until April 1. Our own Julie Peters is also live streaming all of her yoga classes from her studio Ocean and Crow on Facebook Live. Also try one of Spirituality & Health’s many guided meditations for support.
Originally Published at Spirituality & Health.