8 Ways to Cope with Anxiety and Social Distancing

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woman alone at tableHow are you holding up right now?

My hands are so chapped, my face has a little itch that keeps moving around, and my son recently sneezed into my face.

This last week has been so overwhelming and I have experienced a wide range of emotions from anxiety to depression to confusion and everything in between. I love to know what is happening when it happens. Thanks to social media I have a minute-by-minute update, but I can already tell it is taking a toll on my soul.

I can laugh at a funny meme or video making fun of our current situation, but then I can also leave a work meeting in a dense fog and end up staring into a deep void. At times, I laugh hysterically and other times I sit, lost in my concerns. 

Right now I feel slightly depressed and I am truly dreading social distancing. It can be an introvert’s dream (maybe for a couple of days), but the reality of several weeks of isolation quickly approaching is actually a nightmare of mine. I am already suffering from cabin fever. I feel trapped already!

But with all that in mind, it is absolutely necessary that we stop and gauge our mental health. Cyclical thoughts can quickly take over, worries about the future can weigh you down, and general fear can be paralyzing. I know I will have to be deliberate on checking in with myself. So, here are some intentional activities that you can do in order to reign it in and re-align:

  1. Brain Dump — When panic starts to creep in, take a few minutes to write down every thought that is running through your mind. This brain dump will already make your mind feel lighter. Just keep writing, don’t self-edit or write in perfect sentences. Bullet points are even better! Just vomit all your thoughts onto the paper. 
  2. Fear Dump — Do the same things with all your fears, whether it is small and silly or something major. Write it down. Then look at each fear and deliberately think about that fear. Is it rational? Do you have control of that possible scenario? Is it way too far in the future? What are some actions you could take to ease that fear?
  3. Highlights — Take some time to write down at least one highlight from that day. Anything positive! Did your child do something that made you giggle, or did you watch a funny puppy video, or did you get sprayed in the face by a bidet (that’s a story for another time)? Write it down! It is so easy for us to think about the bad. You will need to make an honest and conscious effort to remember the good and the funny.
  4. Breathing/meditation/prayer — Take a few minutes to just focus on your breathing. If you are in a constant state of fight-or-flight, your breaths are very short and shallow. It is a good idea to just sit in silence and focus on your breathing. There are many apps and youtube videos that can walk you through some breathing exercises, and publications focused on mindfulness.
  5. Daily Schedule — Make a schedule for the day and stick to it. This way you have things to focus on and can still feel accomplished. Keeping the family on a schedule will keep some sort of rhythm of normalcy. Anyone else out there love a great checklist? Now is your chance to cross a few things off!
  6. Video Calls — Facetime with your besties and family. I know, I HATE talking on the phone, but there is something about talking to my sister with a double-chin angle and greasy hair that makes it seem like she is in the room with me. Spend time listening to each other’s worries, share ridiculous experiences (did I mention I got sprayed in the face by a bidet?), and just spend some quality time together. 
  7. Exercise — Since we will have a lot of time on our hands, I guess even I will consider doing it. There are many youtube videos where you can follow an instructor-led yoga, Zumba, kickboxing, or other cardio classes. Get the kids involved too in order to burn off some energy. And even though we are socially distancing, you still can take a walk or bike ride around the neighborhood, soaking up some springtime sunshine.
  8. Watch some funny videos — I recently downloaded the Tik Tok app (thanks to my hair colorist! Shout out to Cheryl!). I know it isn’t for everyone, but it has hilarious, talented, and inspiring content. It has been a source of joy for me for the last week. Watching incredible dancers, funny lip-synching, and quick recipes have been a nice break from reality. Be warned that not everything found on the app is top-quality, and like other social media platforms, it can be polarizing in content. But I just might consider learning a dance or two during this time of social distancing! Ha! 

These are just a few ideas that you can work on in order to keep your mental health in check. If your kids are old enough to participate it might be a good idea to have them do the same. If you really start to feel an overwhelming sense of anxiety or depression, please reach out to your primary care provider. There are professionals who can talk to you on the phone or video chat. 

Just remember, you are not alone. Many of us are feeling the same way! We just need to remember to keep sharing our stories and try to be intentional with our thoughts. 

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