‘Being socially isolated is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.’
- American Psychological Association
Let’s be honest — for the past few weeks we’ve all been struggling. Quarantine, lockdowns, social isolation and remote work have taken their toll on us. You may have read quite a few articles about how to set up a perfect working space, how to adjust your daily routine and even how to overcome it when members of your lovely family get on your nerves from time to time. However, there’s a grey zone people are not talking about that much. Yes, even you with no further experience with anxiety may be going through some serious struggles now. First thing to remember is — you are NOT alone. And you can help yourself :) Even with little things that may seem not worthy to even think about.
Anxiety is characterized by feelings of tension, worry, intrusive thoughts and very often physical changes — rapidly increased blood pressure, sweat and trembling. Yes, anxiety is a normal part of our lives. But when it becomes excessive and irrational, it can be very disabling. And when it starts to interfere with your usual daily activities, it’s time to stop, think and act.
You don’t need to attend every video conference ever. We mean, yes, you actually have to, we are not suggesting to slack off at work. But video calls are not entirely natural for many people. You might feel stressed, under pressure and unfocused. Turn off your camera, take your mobile phone/tablet/laptop, headphones and go for a walk! Of course some place quiet enough to hear the mumble of your colleagues. Balcony or garden will do too. From time to time it will be a nice change and alternation, give it a try!
Turn off unnecessary notifications. You don’t really need to follow every Facebook page of every newspaper and magazine. Look at live streams, for example. Every day we are overwhelmed with a number of live streams of press conferences, statements and opinions about the current situation. If we have just two important press conferences in one day and you follow 10 social media pages of a different media, multiply the number and you have 20 interrupting notifications about the same negative event in just a couple of minutes. Eliminate the negativity flooding through the social media, you’ll feel better.
No remorse, please. Yes, you probably wanted to get the best out of the lockdown and from having plenty of time for yourself. Reading, studying, painting, tidying up and so on. And suddenly you find yourself on the couch watching Friends yet all over again. It’s alright. The situation we’re all in is already uncomfortable enough, you don’t need to push yourself to prove something to anyone.
Distract yourself. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or panicky, you need to set your mind on something entirely different, even if it may seem odd to you. Count blue objects in the room, try to remember names of your high school classmates or that one poem you had to learn by heart when you were 10. Anything counts and it’ll help you calm down.
Vitamin D. You’ve been expecting this one, right? But vitamin D plays an important role in the brain and the health of the nervous system. Its deficiency is (not surprisingly) caused by the lack of sunlight, which is something we’ve all been experiencing. So go to the pharmacy and get some D supplements, because it’s not as easy to get it in a proper amount from natural sources nowadays, and of course, go for a walk!
And last but not least, talk to people. Talk to someone you’re not sharing your home with. Talk to your friends, close but also distant family members, even your neighbour across the street (yes, from the other side of the street, of course).
And remember, we’re in this together.