“The lockdown has extended” and like it or not, it’s not going away any time soon. Until the 3rd of May, the country will remain in lockdown with some relaxation likely to happen to specific areas and businesses after the 20th of April. But this would also come with a lot of terms and conditions.
Many of us have been facing issues which we never faced before, for example, managing work remotely, figuring our medical care of our newborns, figuring out how to get groceries and vegetables for our family, and above all, we’re trying to stay healthy ourselves and prevent the virus from spreading to our family and in our locality. These are real-world problems, and these cause anxiety and stress.
Before we talk about how to reduce stress during a lockdown, let’s take a step back and see what all we did during the previous 21 days lockdown, or as I like to call it “Lockdown 1.0”
- We binge-watched our favorite shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, Youtube, etc. – Yes, even I watched Money Heist on Netflix.
- We watched endless news on COVID-19 spread and its current situation in the country and across the globe.
- We googled million of times how to safeguard ourselves from Coronavirus
- We became a self-proclaimed Michelin Star Chef – Yes, from momos to dalgona coffee, from banana cake to pasta, we cooked them all.
… and so on.
What also happened during the lockdown which flew under the radar was that a lot of us developed symptoms related to stress, anxiety or depression. These may be pre-existing symptoms that got aggravated because of the lockdown but in many cases, due to the pandemic and its lethality, we started obsessing over the thought that
- It cannot be controlled or stopped
- Quarantining ourselves in more terrible conditions
- Fear of spreading it to others or getting exposed to it by others
- Fear of losing loved ones
- Fear of losing our own lives
- The anxiety of not having access to any treatment or vaccine
What is Stress?
Healthline.com states that – “Stress is a situation that triggers a particular biological response. When you perceive a threat or a major challenge, chemicals and hormones surge throughout your body.” You can read more about it here.
What is Anxiety?
According to healthline.com – “Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come.” You can read more about it here.
How many of us are guilty of the fact that whenever we felt a bit warm in our forehead, we headed over to Google and searched – “Do I have Coronavirus?”
Severe symptoms that you should look out for during this lockdown are the following –
- Palpitations – A heart palpitation is a sensation that your heart has skipped a beat or added an extra beat. It may feel like your heart is racing, pounding, or fluttering.
- Difficulty in breathing or breathlessness – Breathlessness is an unpleasant sensation of uncomfortable, rapid or difficult breathing. People say they feel puffed, short of breath or winded.
- Chest pain – Discomfort in the chest including a dull ache, a crushing or burning feeling, sharp stabbing pain and pain that radiates to the neck or shoulder.
- Backaches – Physical discomfort occurring anywhere on the spine or back, ranging from mild to disabling.
Apart from these, there can be –
- Various negative thoughts that we discussed earlier
- Mood swings or feeling very low or on the edge all the time
- Thoughts of impending doom
- The feeling of helplessness
- Mental fatigue, etc.
CAUTION: Avoid Self-Medication. Don’t use alcohol or any other substance to deal with anxiety or stress. If you need professional help, reach out to your family members and connect with a doctor immediately.
Let’s get on with the solutions, shall we?
How to reduce stress during a lockdown – The Solution
Stay informed about the news but don’t obsess over it
Here’s what I recommend:
- Adhere to reliable sources like the World Health Organization, or your local public health authorities. You can read it on WHO or for India, you can check our official sources here.
- Limit your screen time for news – Put a cap on who frequently you watch the news on coronavirus. This includes putting a cap on Social media updates, News channels, and WhatsApp shares. You won’t know when these feeds turn compulsive and counterproductive.
- If the news gets overwhelming. Stop it immediately and try to close your eyes, calm your mind down and try to relax with deep inhaling and exhaling.
- Be careful of what you share on social media or WhatsApp. Misinformation is as deadly as the virus itself and it can do harm to your loved ones and people across the globe. We all need to do our part to avoid spreading rumors and creating unnecessary panic.
Remind yourself that this is just temporary
Remind yourself that this is just a temporary lockdown period to slow down the spread of the virus. There are teams across the globe trying to fight this virus and you are an active participant in this fight. Pat yourself on the back!
Maintain a regular sleep routine and eat healthy
Maintain a regular sleep routine, eat healthy meals and maintain a balanced diet. Avoid binge-eating as much as possible. Few snacks here and there are fine but don’t overindulge in them daily.
Maintain a healthy balance between work and leisure
For those working from home, try to maintain a healthy balance by designating definite work hours, catching up on regular breaks and establishing a calendar.
Practice “The Miracle Morning”
Practice – “The Miracle Morning.” I won’t go in deep on what the Miracle Morning is (as it deserves its own blog), but here’s a link for you to check it out. Its an amazing experience and a journey of a lifetime. And as author Hal Elrod is on a mission to “elevate the consciousness of humanity, one morning at a time,” I truly believe that this will not only change your mornings but your complete lifestyle.
Employ healthy activities
Employ healthy activities that you enjoy and relax. Listen to music, draw or paint, do yoga, meditate or exercise, stretch regularly, pursue a hobby, read or write. There’s no one to stop you.
Focus on what you can control
What I mean is, you cant control the severity of the Coronavirus spread in your city, but you can focus on reducing your own risk of exposure. Here are my recommendations:
- Wash your hands regularly with hand sanitizer (min. 70% alcohol), soap and any liquid handwash.
- Avoid the urge to touch your face frequently. If you have to touch your face, use a tissue
- Stay indoors. Almost every daily need supplies are getting delivered at your doorstep. Go out only if its a medical emergency or something critical which cant be delivered
- Avoid crowds and gatherings. Avoid all non-essential shopping urges
- Keep a minimum distance of 6ft between you and the other person
- Get plenty of sleep and try to relax your mind
Stay connected with friends and family
- Call up your bestie, your parents, your girlfriend/boyfriend. Make it a priority to stay in touch. Do video calls with them on Whatsapp, Skype, Facetime, etc. This will help improve your mood and reduce stress levels. Face to Face conversations act like an antidote and video calls with help achieve that
- Social media is an interesting tool to get entertained and stay connected to your idols, celebrities, and other communities across the globe. That said, if you feel overwhelmed, do a social media detox for sometime
- Keep Corona discussions out of conversations. It’s a human tendency to talk about the latest news and development over the Coronavirus. Try to avoid getting into such discussions with friends or family. Share memories, share stories, talk about something productive, but not Corona. This will help reduce stress fast during the lockdown period.
Bonus Tip – Lend a helping hand
We are all caught up with our own fears, our own daily struggles in this lockdown. But, it’s a proven fact that people who lend a helping hand to others in need and support their communities, especially during times of crisis, manage to be happier and healthier than those who act selfishly. Helping others not only makes a difference to the community, but it also enriches your own mental health and welfare.
Much of the distress appending this pandemic derives from the feeling of hopelessness and powerless. Doing helpful acts for others can help you regain a sense of authority over your life—as well as supplementing purpose and direction.
- Calm your friends down – Help your friends who are panicking or getting frustrated. Debunk myths and fake news and don’t let it spread in your social circle. Being a positive influence on your friends and family in these anxious times will help you feel better about yourself
- Reach out to people who need help – It can be your elderly neighbors who may need help with buying groceries; your maid who might need some ration. Just reach out to anyone who might need help. Remember you don’t have to meet them in-person to solve their problems. For example, you can speak with them over the phone, a drop groceries at their doorstep. They can pick it up later. It’s a very simple gesture but something to really boost your mental wellbeing
- Donate – You can donate money to Prime Minister Relief Fund or other funds being run by various companies and startups. Do that! Donate money. You can donate food too. Many volunteers are collecting food and distributing them to people who are in dire need of daily food supplies. Connect with them and donate. Nothing will relieve your tensed soul than a selfless act of help through donation.
To summarise our discussion, here are a few tips to reduce stress during the lockdown –
- Stay informed about the news but don’t obsess over it.
- Remind yourself that this is just a temporary lockdown period to slow down the spread of the virus.
- Maintain a regular sleep routine, eat healthy meals and maintain a balanced diet.
- Maintain a balance between work, social media consumption and rest.
- Employ healthy activities that you enjoy and relax.
- Focus on what you can control.
- Stay connected with friends and family
- Reach out to people in need
- Stay positive amongst friends and family
Tell us about your experiences in this lockdown. We would love to hear your thoughts. Please comment below and if you like this blog share it with your friends and family.