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Adapting to Our New Normal: Strategies to deal with ”Coronavirus Anxiety”

Our lives have been turned upside down, and it’s essential that we prioritize well-being into our own lives, including a daily routine that encompasses stress management, movement, sleep, and of course, good nutrition.

Our lives have been turned upside down; we’re already seeing the tremendous physical, mental and emotional toll that Coronavirus has brought into our world.

“Coronavirus Anxiety” is a thing. It’s also completely normal; we’re all experiencing it to some degree. The good news is that we can find ways to counter it, and it is absolutely possible that we can come out on the other side of this a healthier, more positive version of ourselves. 

Across the world, we’re all asking the same questions, How long is this going to last? What happens if I get sick? Are my loved ones in danger? What about my job? Andfor the most part, we don’t have any answers, which feels really scary.

Small steps, along with big shifts in our attitude and outlook, can help us to manage our fears, doubts and uncertainty so that Coronavirus Anxiety doesn’t get the best of us

We are incredibly resilient. It’s up to us if we choose to allow this to break our spirit.

One area that many of us do have some level of control over is how we’re taking care of ourselves. Really simple changes can have a huge impact on our wellness – changes that we can start immediately, if we’re not already doing it.

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to make a point to seek out the positivity.  Embrace the happiness in even the smallest flashes of joy that pop up throughout our day. We may need to actively seek out these moments – they’re there, I promise, we just don’t always see them. Start by tuning in to even the smallest acts of compassion and resilience so that we intentionally fill our energy and our minds with these stories of kindness, compassion and grace.

One space that we can look to for inspiration and positivity is the incredible response of so many organizations working together to do good. From nonprofits to Fortune 500 companies, they are making big changes to the way they do business to help support our frontline workers and our community.

And I know it’s a challenge, but now more than ever, we really need to do our best to manage stress as much as possible. Chronic stress wreaks havoc on our immune system. Very little is in our control right now, and stress is all around us, so it’s up to us to determine how we handle these stressors. Set boundaries on exposure to news and Coronavirus updates. Stay informed, of course, but make sure we’re taking enough time to step away and separate our thoughts, energy and focus.

Another tool to incorporate is habit stacking. This is a term used often by the team here at Thrive GlobalHabit stacking refers to adding a new habit that we’re trying to form on top of an existing one, to create a built-in reminder for our new habit to take hold and really sink in.

One example of habit stacking is the “gratitude hand wash.” While you’re washing your hands, take the 20 seconds to think of one, two or three things you are grateful for. We could sing Happy Birthday twice, or we can take the opportunity to reflect on the good that is in our lives. 

 You’ve probably heard this many times already, but if you haven’t done it already, develop a schedule – for yourself, and for your family, if needed. Having a daily routine in place can help us to feel more in control and makes room for what really matters.

Routine can benefit our emotional health, plus it can help us strengthen healthy habits, reduce stress levels, and cope with the changing world around us. Think about what your daily schedule will look like in terms of sleep, work (especially for those working from home), physical activity, mealtimes, and chill time.

Find a morning routine that works for you. Especially if you’re working from home, having a morning ritual can help to start the day on a positive note. If your home feels like mayhem these days, consider waking up a few minutes before everyone else, to have a bit of quiet time for reading, exercise, meditation, or even just reviewing your game plan for the day ahead.

Block off windows of time for your “focus + productivity hours,” scheduling it like you normally would any other meetings or calls. During these times, do your best to minimize distractions from emails, texts or calls, or social media. I realize this may not be as feasible when you’re layering in home schooling with working from home, but as best possible, try to coincide kids’ study time with your own focus time.

Take breaks. Stop for mental refreshers throughout the day. Carve out time to make lunch, go for a walk, read a magazine, sit outside, or call a friend (especially one who’s calm and steady).

Stop working. It’s hard not to keep on working when you are at home, because it can seem like nothing’s ever finished. We also don’t have the normal end-of-day cues like we do at the office, when other people are leaving for the day. Set a time to stop working and stick with it. The work will always be there, we need to be sure we’re protecting our emotional energy as well.

Review your to-do list before you wrap up. Before I end the workday, I run through my list for the day or coming days and scratch off what I accomplished.  I prefer pen and paper for this, versus a digital list, as there’s just something satisfying about crossing items off the list.

This is a mental clean-up for me; I also re-write this list as needed, as I’ve often jotted notes and more to-do’s throughout the day.

Fill our downtime with things we enjoy. Take walks with family or other quarantine-mates. Cook dinner, experimenting with new recipes. Read books, watch movies, work on those projects you’ve wanted to do or try, but didn’t have the time.

This is all just a small sliver of the steps we can take to ensure we’re truly caring for ourselves. Continue to surround yourself with positive messaging. Follow wellness experts on social media who are sharing stories of inspiration and self-care.  Tune in to the simple things that have a huge impact on our happiness. All of these are things that we can start right now.

Click here to listen to Molly’s podcast version of this article.

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Molly Kimball, RD, CSSD is a registered dietitian + nutrition journalist in New Orleans, and founder of Ochsner’s Eat Fit nonprofit initiative. Tune in to her podcast, FUELED | Wellness + Nutrition and follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @MollyKimballRD. See more of Molly’s columns + TV segments at www.mollykimball.com.

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