In the wake of the global pandemic, the keyword to keeping yourself and all those around you safe is Social Distancing. Defined as the practise through which preventive measures are taken so that people who are unwell do not come in close contact with healthy people, it aims to lower the chances of disease transmission. However, as COVID-19 continues to spread, it’s also been bringing out the best in people across the globe. People have instinctively come together to stand in support of each other, share experiences, and to help one other. According to the World Economic Forum, “This social support has proven to be an important factor in protecting against the negative impact that these events can have on our mental health. The outbreak of the coronavirus is unprecedented in that the advice to self-isolate and distance ourselves from others is the exact opposite of what we as human beings want to do in times of crisis.”
Here’s a look at some heartwarming accounts that will bring a smile on your face as you read them, believing in the good that still prevails:
* When Wuhan, China was locked down, residents opened their windows to shout messages of support and solidarity for their neighbours and their beloved city.
* In Italy, people came to their balconies to sing songs aloud to tell those at home that they’re not in it alone.
* In Wales, local councils are recruiting “an army of volunteers” to keep in contact with neighbours who are most at risk and to go shopping for them.
* In Oxford, volunteers have set up the Help Hub to offer online support and reassurance to vulnerable people who are self-isolating.
* In the United States, artist Yadesa Bojia produced Facebook videos translating official coronavirus advice for his fellow Ethiopian Americans.
* In Seville, Spain, a fitness instructor held an exercise class for people quarantined in their homes, leading it from the roof of a nearby apartment block where they could all see and follow his moves.
* A couple in Cornwall, United Kingdom, have distributed postcards to elderly neighbours inviting them to get in touch, while offering help with shopping, posting mail and collecting medical supplies.
Anxiety followed by fear and depression about a global crisis can be overwhelming and can also wreak havoc with one’s mental and emotional well-being, wherever you are in the world. This is primarily why you need to ensure all methods of self-care by eating well, sleeping well, exercising, meditating, keeping a check on any untoward thoughts and then some. The CDC reminds everyone that “each individual reacts differently to a stressful situation. Your response to a situation may be completely different than another person’s due to a number of factors.” Most of the time, regardless of the gravity of a circumstance, trauma response comes back as a reaction and not as a memory which can be harmful to you and to anyone around you.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, the following pointers could help you deal with spiralling negative thoughts during times of uncertainty especially since we’re either in self-quarantine, quarantine or isolation for a prolonged period of time (social distancing):
– Tell yourself ‘I can finally focus on my home and myself’: Instead of thinking that you’re stuck indoors while the world is (probably) passing you by.
– Stick to a routine which will help you maintain some semblance of structure from your pre-quarantine days
– Avoid obsessing over endless coronavirus coverage. Take a break from social media, news apps and messaging apps every now and then. It’s important to be aware but not lose peace over over-scrutiny.
Here are self-care tips so you take good care of yourself now and in the future too because self-care doesn’t need a special day or dark times:
You before them: Take this evergreen advice from cabin crew across the world – in case of an emergency landing situation, put on your oxygen mask before helping others. It has been rightly said that you can’t pour from an empty cup and that’s why always take care of yourself before giving care to anyone else around you – a family member, a roommate, your pet or your plant.
The art of saying no: If you feel overstretched and want to stay in, just do it, no one needs the explanation. If they care, they’ll understand. If, however, you let all energies in and become habitual to not saying no, it’ll cost you dearly, in terms of mental space, emotional battles and your precious time.
Practice mindfulness, meditate, exercise: If you’ve been unable to make time for some of the most important things due to a busy schedule, resume now and remember to continue even when you head back to work. Whatever you do, stay in the moment and trust that everything will continue to flow as swimmingly as it has been and it’ll all get better.
Eat well, including comfort food when needed: Food keeps the machine running physically and is important to restore some sanity when you’re feeling anxious and restless. Remember to eat on time and eat well, keeping a check on the calories you’re consuming. Oily food may make you sluggish and might react differently on your body if you’re not working out to burn those calories and also staying healthy. At the same time, some comfort food (maybe homemade cookies or a slice of cake) may not be a bad idea once in a while to keep those spirits uplifted. Nutella, anyone?
Savour the little things: Even during the lockdown, remember to protect yourself from a meltdown. Soak in the peace that work from home brings you, the smell of coffee early in the morning, birds chirpily singing their song, a rejuvenating face mask, an oil massage or hair spa, a warm shower or your favourite perfume or scent in the diffuser, a hug from your pet or just watching cat or dog videos on Instagram. When you effectively stop to smell the roses, you activate the pleasure centre of your brain, thereby boosting serotonin levels which will help you stay at peace, boost your mood and keep you calm and well-cocooned in the world you create around you.
Stay in touch: Maybe the advancement in technology has taken away from the feeling of hearing someone’s voice at the other end of the line. Use this time to resume this habit and pick up the phone to speak to your friends, family members or anyone whose voice you’ve wanted to hear but messaging apps or social media co-existence has taken away from it. Even if you’re proud to say that “you’re not much of a phone type”, remember that checking on someone is the best gift you can give to a lonely soul especially in times when we have to wait and watch as the world fights back.
Practice digital detox: All of us are aware that digital detox is a boon in the times we live in when we have to constantly be connected on our work emails, messaging apps and more. Stick to a schedule and learn to say no when required. There’s nothing above respecting yourself and your space and it has to come from you. Staying connected round-the-clock especially if your colleagues either work in shifts or in different time zones, maybe the need of the hour but setting a boundary and active hours will help you in the long run. Take care of your mental health and keep burnout, anxiety and depression at bay.
Sleep well: Sleep is the most important treatment you can gift your body and mind. Use it well. The ill-effects of sleep disruption on mood is well-established through years of research and studies. Without a routine in place, however, it’s easy to let things go haywire like unhealthy sleep habits, sometimes no sleep at all and more. Anxiety might also keep you awake at odd hours of the night but remember to switch off at the right time, meditate before bedtime and try and get at least 7-8 hours of sleep at night time. If the uncertainty of the current situation is causing sleep loss, talk it out with someone or take virtual consultation from your psychiatrist rather than overthinking in solitude.
Read, listen to music: Reading has been proven to be a great stressbuster as is listening to music. Invest in a bookshelf or a nightstand next to your bed, a few books you want to read at the moment which you can keep refreshing, a good speaker or a pair of headphones to begin with. If you enjoy reading on Kindle, ask your friends to share what they’re reading which you can either borrow from them or buy your versions from the online store.
Additionally, if you have always loved getting a story told to you, get a subscription from popular music streaming apps like Spotify for some of the best podcasts, Audible or Storytel for audiobooks or you could also sync your Alexa or Google Home (if you haven’t invested in one already, do so) to your Kindle so she can read the book you ask her to while you sit quietly, looking at the scenery outside or even staring at the ceiling if that floats your boat.
Sing a song: Tried Karaoke? Singing a song also helps you relieve anxiety and blue moods. Plugin and start singing! Note: If you’re tone-deaf or forget the notes, remind yourself you’re indoors and no one is listening so you don’t feel conscious.
All-in-all, don’t forget yourself and continue the good habits for a healthy mind and body and a happy soul.