Spoiler alert: scrolling through Facebook is a No No
Hands up if you’ve truly had enough of Covid, lockdown and homeschooling. Living in LA county, we are at the epicentre of Coronavirus infection and death rates, and the promised easing of restrictions that can happen in some counties will have to wait a little longer at the Golden Coast. As it does for lots of people around the world.
When we entered the stay-at-home phase eight weeks ago (EIGHT! WEEKS!), I comforted myself with the thought that this was temporary. Of course, there was a little worry about finances (the majority of my projects has been put on ice), but for sure, the world would go back to normal at some point.
Today, it has become clear that the world has to find a new normal, and I had to find a way not to get lost in the demands that the schooling of my children put on me. And to adjust to a situation where I have three other people crowding my workspace, which doubles as a home for those pesky, snack-demanding, laundry-producing, full-blast-spotifying, messy, gorgeous, lively humans.
I also had to adjust as to how to deal with making sense of what is going on. And not to allow anxiety about the unknown take over. Here’s what worked for me:
- Stay offline as much as possible. The link between social media and depression/anxiety has been well documented, so just don’t go there.
- Choose your news sources wisely. Facebook is not a news source, and even if you think you managed to keep fake news away from your feed, chances are your little Facebook bubble is reinforcing your fears. We tend to surround ourselves with like-minded people who repeat the same shit all over again. It doesn’t make it the truth, but it makes it look like the truth.
- Limit or eliminate online and TV news consumption. Fast moving images, snippets of information, distracting blinking lights… typing this alone makes me nervous.
- Subscribe to an actual newspaper. I know, it’s old skool, if not drastic. The beauty of a local paper is that you get all the information you need and that is relevant to you. Does it help me to repeatedly watch lorry loads of corpses being removed from Italian cities? No. Does it increase my anxiety? You bet. This has nothing to do with turning a blind eye to the suffering of others, my heart breaks for the families who are experiencing unimaginable loss and hardship. But I’d rather focus on where and how I can help than feeding my anxiety and feeling of helplessness.
- Question the information you consume. I have stopped looking at tables comparing infection and death rates across countries. In economics, you compare numbers ‘ceteris paribus’ to come to a hypothesis or allow end results to be compared. It literally means ‘all other things remaining constant.’ And in this case, nothing is constant. Different health systems, different lifestyles, different testing methods and different ways to count those that have been affected. Those numbers can’t be compared.
- Reach out to friends and loved ones, hug your kids, pets, roomies, partners. Hugging lowers heart rate and blood pressure, is an immunity booster and has been suggested to ease depression.
- Touch yourself. Among other things, masturbation can reduces stress. And BTW, May is Masturbation Month, so there you go.
- Meditate. Health benefits include reduced stress, increased self-awareness, lowered anxiety levels… the list goes on.
- Move your body. So many yoga teachers offer free online classes right now, myself included. And if yoga isn’t your thing, just google free XYZ online class, and the world’s your oyster.
- Stay hydrated. Of course, #quarantwine sounds like so much more fun than #quarantwater, but here me out. Dehydration causes stress in your body which sets your nervous system on alert which leads to emotional stress… Drinking water has a soothing effect on your body. Throw in a slice of lime or a couple of raspberries and mint if you like it a little more exciting.
- Eat well. I know, I know. I am so over feeding my family three cooked meals a day and I am ready to throw in the tea towel very, very soon. But what you eat has a direct effect on how you feel. I bought The Medicinal Chef’s amazing book ‘Anxiety & Depression: eat your way to better health‘ a couple of years ago, and I am sure it was instrumental on the road of my recovery. There are plenty of easy, straight-forward recipes on his website.
- Sleep. The average adult needs 7-9 of sleep each night. Good sleep is important for both your physical and mental health. Trouble sleeping? Try this.