(HealthyResearch.com) – It’s been nearly a month since social distancing was officially instituted as policy, but for some people, it feels much longer. As of Monday, April 13, 95% of the US was still under stay-at-home orders. Some are experiencing anxiety, isolation and, yes, even boredom. We have some ideas to help deal with all of these conditions!
Having little to no human interaction can be a hardship for some of us, and social isolation can be a strain. Fortunately, technology allows us to interact with each other at a distance and still maintain close relationships. Whether you text, call by phone or reach out by video chat, you can check in with work buddies, friends and family during this time.
Are you missing a group you normally meet with on a weekly basis? Set up a time to meet up virtually on Skype, Zoom or WhatsApp. Consider setting up a virtual game night with friends. You could even have a Netflix Party to watch your favorite show together.
The point is that social distancing doesn’t have to result in social isolation. And it can benefit both your physical and mental health to maintain your social connections during this time.
If boredom is a challenge for you or someone you know right now, consider taking a class to learn something new, participating in an online exercise or yoga session, or taking virtual tours of museums or natural wonders all over the world. Here are some examples:
- Tour a museum. Google Arts and Culture Platform is offering free tours of over 2500 museums worldwide. See the Louvre in Paris, MoMA in New York or the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam!
- Explore a national park. Virtually visit Yellowstone National Park. Explore live webcams and other virtual tours as diverse as the Virgin Islands National Park to Crater Lake to the Statue of Liberty through the National Parks Service. Want more? Google Earth has 360-degree view tours of 113 national parks!
- Take an online fitness class. Now is the perfect time to try new things! Have you ever wanted to try yoga? Yoga With Adriene is a beginner’s level YouTube class you can take for free. Or maybe a workout minus the gym is more your style?
- Learn a new language. There are several free, online platforms for learning, including Duolingo and Open Culture among others.
- Get crafty. Learn to make something new — a recipe from Food Wishes on YouTube, a craft project from the Crafts Channel on YouTube, or even a piece of furniture from DIY Furniture on YouTube.
Given the social distancing, the financial crunch that many of us are feeling and the health concerns for ourselves and our loved ones, it makes sense that many of us feel a heightened sense of anxiety. And frankly, that’s normal. But if anxiety tips over into obsession, panic or depression, there’s cause for concern. So what actions might you be able to take to help you avoid escalating anxiety?
- Stay informed, but don’t obsess. Give yourself a time limit or certain times of day when you are allowed to catch up on new information. Try to avoid news right before bed, however, as it may keep you up at night. And if you find you just can’t set a limit, walk away from the internet for a while and ask a trusted friend or family member to let you know if something critical is taking place. Give yourself a break.
- Control what you can, and release the rest. Plan the things you CAN control: your schedule, your meals, your projects, your social life, your exercise. Identify and acknowledge the things you have no control over — and then release yourself from responsibility. Be kind to yourself. Focus your attention on the things you can control, especially those that affect your daily life most.
- Practice calming techniques. Some people thrive on mindfulness breathing techniques, while others prefer meditation. You can even try lighting scented candles, taking a hot bath or giving yourself a hand massage. All of these techniques can help you change your focus and may give you a reprieve from the anxiety you’re feeling.
- Take care of yourself. Eat healthy, balanced meals with plenty of fruits, vegetables and fatty fish to help manage your anxiety levels. Get adequate rest. Try to get some sunshine (natural vitamin D), fresh air and regular exercise. There’s a strong brain-gut connection, so maintaining a healthy diet could help you control your anxiety, and controlling your anxiety might help your digestion.
- Help others, if you can. Studies have shown that helping others can actually help you alleviate anxiety. You can help by delivering food or medicine to people who can’t go out, calling or texting people who live alone, donating surplus food or supplies if you’re able and by being kind to others — you never know how much a moment of grace from you might mean to someone else.
It’s important to have strategies to deal with isolation, boredom and anxiety during quarantine. If you feel you are slipping into depression, having thoughts about hurting yourself or others or are experiencing uncontrollable feelings of panic, contact your health care provider immediately.
~Here’s to Your Health & Safety!
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