At the time of writing this article, the story of COVID19 has taken center stage. Everything else is secondary.
“Today, there’s only one story, Coronavirus.”
COVID19 is a pandemic that’s permeated our entirely shared reality. Since the second world war, no other story has affected our lives so dramatically. Thousands of people are dying from a merciless indiscriminate disease, governments are scrambling to contain the spread of the virus and manage the economic fallout. Social distancing has impacted everyone without exception.
Humanity is in fear of an unseen killer, and the lack of human connection through social distancing only exacerbates the tension. The question is, how will you manage the growing anxiety?
Change and the stress of facing the unknown
Some are handling events with a light-heart and positive mental attitude. Others are frightened, some on the verge of panic. The change to our lives is a hard pill to swallow. A more subtle killer than the disease itself is the domino effect of stress.
It’s easy to let fear creep into your life. Life seems surreal. The story is like a movie playing out before your very eyes. Our personal freedom impinged by government health warnings. Lockdown and self-isolation. It’s hard to get around the question— What will be?
The problem is, people often operate from a state of reactivity as opposed to non-reactivity. Rushing to the supermarkets to stock up on groceries, people bartering with toilet paper for a coming doomsday. Fear of the unknown is embedded within our DNA, so subtle, it often goes unnoticed. It’s easy to allow your emotions to dictate your words and reactions.
If allowed to go unchecked, this autoresponse can have disastrous results. People become irritable. There’s a frustration of not knowing what to do next. It’s the fear of being powerless. Arguments can occur over the simplest of things. Confinement compounds issues of mental health. There is a loss of freedom and control on multiple fronts— boredom, loneliness, economic worry, fear of the illness itself. People become jittery and anxious.
At a time when you most need a robust immune system, managing stress is critical. Its scientific fact that stress weakens the immune system. Knowing your getting anxious, compounds things.
How to manage stress and strengthen your immune system
While riding out the Pandemic, here’s 10 things you can do to manage your mental and physical health. In combination, these steps can ease stress, improve your mood, strengthen your body’s immune system.
1. Keep Occupied
Be productive. If you can still go to work, do so. If not, work from home. If you’ve been put on unpaid leave, try to find alternative sources of income. Just sitting around may be cool for a day or two, but it can soon lead to a downward spiral of further anxiety and even depression.
2. Limit Your Time With The News
Keep posted once a day. Don’t watch TV reports or read news media all day, it will consume your life.
3. Be Physically Active
Do exercise, even at home. Exercise is a sure way to ward off depression and keep a positive frame of mind. You’ll sleep much better and it will strengthen your immune system. If you aren’t already doing it, try Yoga. It’s a superb way to calm the nerves, manage stress and keep your body limber and toned.
4. Help Others
Be kind and have compassion for those around you. Ask how you can help. We’re all in the same boat. Difficult times that affect everyone brings people together.
5. Eat Healthy Food
Don’t pig out on junk. You need to build your body’s strength and immune system. If you don’t mind fruit and veggies, eat plenty. Vegetarian and Vegan diets are known to build the immune system and lower inflammation.
6. Limit Your Intake Of Alcohol And Recreational Drugs
Alcohol weakens your immune system. The European recommended limit of alcohol intake is 10g per day for women and 20g per day for men. If you can cut it out altogether, it’s even better. Don’t zone out on recreational drugs. You may be at home for a while, and recreational drugs are expensive. Even worse, the long-term effects of continuous use will only make things worse. Long-term use of recreational drugs can magnify issues that cause stress— unemployment, social distancing, self-isolation. The compound effect of stress, continuous use of alcohol and recreational drugs, creates an underlying condition for a virus to have disastrous effects. Keep yourself healthy by living a healthy lifestyle.
7. Play Recreational Games
If you’re stuck at home, play recreational games to keep the mind active in the here and now. Board games with adults and kids are fun, uplifting and bring people together. Once again, great for strengthening the immune system.
8. Listen To Uplifting Music
Manage your mood by playing music with positive energy. Spinning or perhaps some Indie tracks, lift the spirit. Classic music and yoga tracks calm the mind. Ballads are nice but can make you sad and melancholy. So watch your mood.
9. Watch Uplifting Movies And Media
Watching inspiring comedies or media can be a welcome mental break. But don’t overdo it by becoming a couch potato. Ration your viewing time to an hour a day. Being productive is much more satisfying and rewarding.
10. Calm Your Mind With Meditation
Try taking time out to stop thinking. Clear your head with Meditation that alleviates stress. Even ten minutes a day can do wonders for calming the nerves and getting in touch with your body. Meditation is grounding.
mindfulness meditation is highly effective in managing stress
Mindfulness Meditation develops the skill of creating mental space and disengaging from the continuous flow of thoughts going through your brain. Focusing on the breath during meditation calms the mind.
Concentrating on breathing during mindfulness meditation, exposes the constant flow of thoughts that invades the mind. By observing your own thoughts, feelings, and experiences, you become self-aware.
It this state of mindfulness, observation of your own thoughts and feelings from a ‘third party’ perspective, creates mental space to be Non-Reactive. Mental space allows you to be calm and clear-minded. It enables you to make better choices.
Mindfulness helps you to be more rational
Practicing mindfulness allows you to operate more rationally. You can examine how you spend your time, energy, and resources. It enables you to explore the quality of how you feel about yourself, your relationship with others, and the world around you. The mental space you achieve through mindfulness allows you to reframe your life from a different, more healthy perspective.
Much of your time is spent worrying about what will be in the future or regrets of past events, things you can’t do anything about. These thoughts can be distorted and exaggerated, with paranoia or false conclusions.
How to Manage Change in Your Life
When facing even global events such as the pandemic COVID-19, you can only deal with the cards you have in hand. We all live in a constant state of change. Paradoxically, the evolutionary process of change is continuous. Events change all the time.
You think of a clock as measuring a linear march of time. What we are really measuring is a relative transformation of change, that’s a different experience for each one of us.
Don’t give in to the fear of global events. Embrace change with curiosity.
The change you experience is relative to your circumstance and different for everyone. You can approach change with anticipation and an attitude of exploration, or you can look at it with fear and dread. It’s your choice. But change is going to happen, whether you like it or not.
It is how you mentally manage your personal experience of change that will help you face events with peace of mind.
For more about meditation, check out the article understanding the benefits of mindfulness.