Anybody who’s lived in far-north latitudes likely knows the term, “cabin fever.” It’s a psychological condition common among people who experience long winter seasons with little daylight and freezing temperatures. Residents of those areas are essentially forced to remain indoors for extended periods of time.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has brought cabin fever into the mainstream. Even inhabitants of temperate regions must now contend with home confinement and social isolation. But unlike their northern compatriots, they’re less likely to have existing coping mechanisms. Therein lies the problem.
Here are ways everybody can handle anxiety and feelings of negativity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Researchers have proven the correlation between brain chemistry and feelings of happiness. And exercise releases natural endorphins that create a sense of wellness and even euphoria. In fact, studies actually suggest regular exercise can sometimes be an effective alternative to antidepressant medications!
Most Americans are capable of exercising even during COVID-19 lockdowns and gym closures. Terrific workout devices can be purchased online and delivered straight to the home. And people who can’t afford pricey gym equipment can still go for long walks or climb their apartment building’s staircase. Healthier folks may even incorporate time-tested exercises that can be completed anywhere, including lunges and pushups.
Get some sunshine
Like exercise, regular exposure to sunlight is another proven contributor to feelings of happiness. The body uses the natural rays to produce vitamin D. And experts believe it ultimately results in increased levels of serotonin, which is a known “feel-good” hormone. Best of all, people can kill two birds with one stone by exercising outdoors to reap the benefits of both fitness and sun exposure!
Create a schedule
One of the strangest aspects of living under COVID-19 lockdown has been the loss of all sense of “time.” Many people are working from home. And sadly, millions more have lost their jobs altogether. It’s very easy for humans to get into a psychological slump absent of regular schedules. The days just seem to blend together, creating a perpetual mental fog.
Fortunately, there are other ways to create daily structure and a sense of normalcy. Everyone, including the unemployed, can create new tasks and commit to completing them per a schedule. For example, someone who previously got up every morning at 6AM to go to work might instead get up to go on a morning walk. Or perhaps they treat their job search as full-time employment, taking a break for lunch and following a traditional 8AM to 5PM schedule.
Many responsible adults learn to act selflessly and direct their focus toward children, family and professional obligations. And while it’s commendable to prioritize the needs of loved ones and strive for success, there’s also a time for self-care. The COVID-19 pandemic has upped stress levels considerably.
Everybody deserves a treat during this difficult period. Perhaps now’s the time to finally purchase those luxury sheets for a better night’s sleep. Or maybe it’s worth the modest investment in a premium cable TV package that features highly-reviewed shows. A small splurge might seem decadent to frugal folks, but the emotional benefits could be well worth it!
Talk to family and friends regularly
Social media can be great for staying connected to friends and loved ones. However, Facebook is no substitute for phone calls and video visits. And texting doesn’t count as a “real” conversation either!
There’s nothing wrong with leveraging a variety of communication platforms. But COVID-19 social-distancing protocols mean people must work harder than before in order to maintain relationships. Those who check-in regularly with friends and family via phone or Zoom can help keep spirits high and reduce feelings of loneliness.
Yoga and meditation techniques are now very much part of the American lifestyle. And while there are many forms of physical and mental activities designed to reduce stress, most are basically rooted in the concept of “mindfulness.” Mindfulness is the practice of shifting mental energy away from daily activities and toward relaxation.
There are plenty of free online tools that teach mindfulness techniques, and the activity itself doesn’t require any special equipment. However, the benefits are well documented and include reductions in stress levels and blood pressure. Best of all, mindfulness can be practiced in as little as 20 minutes from virtually any location that affords privacy and quiet.
Focus on the “big picture”
Sadly, the consequences of COVID-19 are very real. Millions of people have contracted the virus and thousands have died. And many others have suffered economic hardship, job losses and business closures. But there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Data suggests the pandemic is stabilizing, and society is slowly reopening. While communities are far from “normal,” things are headed in the right direction. There will be a time when most people return to their daily lives, and it may happen sooner than expected.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit Americans like a fast-moving freight train and has wreaked havoc on an unprecedented scale. It’s only natural that people would feel negative during these trying times. After all, millions of adults suffer from anxiety and depression even when things are good. But there are ways to stay positive during these trying times. Most people can make simple changes that will greatly improve their outlook on life!
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