When the clock struck midnight on December 31, 2019, no one had any idea what 2020 had to bring. Many people were excited to say goodbye to the previous year with hope that this year would be exponentially better. But just two short months into the year, everything changed.
The global pandemic swept the nation and with it came an unprecedented lockdown. For many people, the thought of isolation was terrifying. For those with anxiety, it was crippling. What started as a two-week lockdown turned to months, and the effects still linger as the virus continues to circulate.
If you are one of the millions who are still dealing with anxiety and stress due to the lockdown, you are not alone. Far from it, actually. The mental stress that a lockdown of this magnitude has produced is just as unprecedented as the virus itself.
The good news is, there are things you can do to help yourself not feel this way.
Talk, Talk, Talk
One of the hardest things about a lockdown is the isolation aspect. Being stuck in your house is one thing, but not being able to socialize with anyone, including family and friends is a whole different level of stressful.
Sure, there are zoom meetings and facetime calls, but nothing can replace human touch and being able to physically be with someone.
While lockdown is over, the mental effects of the lockdown can linger on for years if they are not dealt with properly. The emotional toll on the body and mind is different for everyone. If you are feeling stress and anxiety as a result of the pandemic, consider seeing a therapist.
Feelings of lingering sadness, anxiety, and hopelessness that impact your everyday life are not normal. It’s possible to be having these feelings and to not understand why you are feeling this way, or that the pandemic has influenced your feelings in a negative aspect.
Talking it over with a therapist can give you the clarity to identify the issue and move past it. It will also allow you to recognize those negative thoughts as they are happening and be able to resolve them before they take a mental toll on your health moving forward.
Get Outside in the Fresh Air
There is no better way to clear your head or to brighten your day than to get outside in the fresh air. Fresh air and Vitamin D can greatly affect your mood and your outlook on life.
Even if you can only get outside in the morning while you drink your coffee, your day can start in a whole different direction and the thoughts of being overwhelmed will be silenced for the time being.
Mindfulness and meditation are other ways to control your emotions and anxiety and are especially beneficial if you practice them outdoors. Studies show that nature is a natural healer when it comes to anxiety and stress, especially pandemic-related stress.
It helps you feel less alone, even if you are physically alone while outside. Mindfulness breathing exercises are also more effective when you are breathing fresh air as opposed to the circulated air inside your home.
Exercise and fresh air go hand-in-hand when dealing with anxiety and stress. It doesn’t have to be a brisk walk or a sprint in order to be effective. Anything that raises your heartrate helps eliminate the stress.
Of course, in-home workouts and running on a treadmill are also helpful ways to reduce stress, there’s nothing quite the same as breathing in the fresh air while you work out.
Give Yourself Some Grace
If nothing else during this difficult and uncertain time, it’s especially important to be kind to yourself. Give yourself the grace you deserve after being kept inside for months in isolation with the exception of your immediate family.
There is nothing quite like being secluded from everyone, including your family members that don’t live with you. Mental health instability is going to be rising from even the most mentally stable individuals. Staying isolated during the lockdown was hard but emerging from the lockdown may actually be harder.
Re-entering a society that has completely changed, businesses and lives lost, and the fear of the virus can send some people’s mental health stability spiraling.
If you feel yourself start to lose control, or if you are struggling with feelings of hopelessness, depression, overwhelming stress, or anxiety, take action now. Put a plan in place to stabilize your mental health so you can effectively process these post-lockdown feelings and see with clarity when and how to take action to correct the negative thoughts.
One thing is certain – no matter where in the world you live, everyone is feeling the effects of the pandemic and the lockdown that follows. What we do to combat those negative feelings will make the difference moving on.