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How I Cope With Anxiety While In Isolation

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Even before the virus situation set in, I had a pretty bumpy start to 2020. 

I’ve been working from home since 2018.

But in December 2019, the effects of the isolation from working from home crept up on me when I was least expecting it.

Everything in my life came to an abrupt halt. I couldn’t work, I couldn’t focus, I felt awful but didn’t know why and I was freaked out.

Long story short, I knew that I had to make some serious lifestyle adjustments in order to stay healthy, happy and sane. 

In this strange and uncertain situation we are all living, I can understand that you might be feeling anxious.

So I thought you might find it useful to hear what I did in order to fight and overcome low mood, anxiety and the feeling of isolation over the past few months.

I’m finding these coping mechanisms more important than ever right now, as we are all at home in lockdown around the world, facing such an unknown situation. 

Yoga 

I am a super sedentary person, and I think it really started to affect me in a bad way! I feel stiff and sore somewhere on my body pretty much daily and my energy levels aren’t super high either.

I decided it was time to make a commitment to myself and get into the habit of doing something physical and beneficial for my body on a daily basis. 

I’ve been a fan of Yoga With Adriene for years, and recently I signed up for her 30-day challenge called “Home”. She does a new one every year. Not sponsored, she’s just great ๐Ÿ™‚

If you’re interested in doing the challenge but afraid it’ll be too difficult, don’t worry – it’s not! It’s for EVERYONE. I can’t stress enough how much good this has done for me.

No, I didn’t feel like doing it at first, and it was annoying to have to fit it in, but I’ve accepted that exercise is just one of those things you need to do for yourself.

The thing that surprises me the most is that now I actually look forward to getting on the yoga mat. It makes me feel better. It lifts my mood. I have never once done a session and felt worse after.

Yoga has really, really helped me reactivate my body, without needing to jump into some crazy and overwhelmingly difficult exercise program. Yoga really feels as if it’s nurturing not only the body, but also the soul!

Socializing

There are so many ways to socialize, it doesn’t just mean going out with a group of friends for dinner or having company over.

One way I am really enjoying socializing right now is by using Discord with our friends while we play video games together. Co-op video games are a wonderful way of connecting with people from the comfort of your own home. 

If you aren’t into videogames, just video call, chat or email your friends and family on a regular basis. Ask them how they are doing! Sometimes it’s easy to forget to ask. Sometimes people don’t open up unless you invite them to. Don’t be afraid!

Social media doesn’t really count for me, but maybe it does for you. You decide!

For introverts, socializing might be something you have to force yourself to do. But it’s an essential human need. If you go too long without it, it can have a negative effect on your wellbeing. 

Singing

Weird, right? But seriously, hear me out! 

It’s a well-known fact and scientifically proven that all types of singing have positive psychological effects. However, choral singing seems to have the most dramatic effect on people’s lives. 

So, I joined a choir! 

Singing with a group of people is an incredibly powerful and uplifting experience. Unfortunately, right now with the pandemic, we’re not rehearsing, but I am really looking forward to starting up again.

If you can, join a choir – I highly recommend it! Since I work from home, it’s especially difficult for me to meet new people. Joining a choir is a great way to meet new people if you struggle a little with that as well. 

If you’re not ready to join a choir, but you enjoy karaoke, then I highly recommend the app Smule. It’s a karaoke app that allows you to sing with people from all over the world! I’ve been using Smule for years – it’s so much fun when you rope your friends in and sing with them ๐Ÿ™‚  

Singing in a choir releases endorphins, provides psychological and physical benefits to those suffering from depression, and many other diseases. To read more about all the positive effects of singing, check out this article.

And remember, you do NOT have to be a professional musician to join a choir! Just have fun with it ๐Ÿ™‚

Pets

Having pets is a BIG commitment and I realize it’s not for everyone. I just wanted to add this because I’ve found it to be so beneficial personally.

My dog has literally never left my side in 12 years and I am so grateful for her presence!

Having an animal to love and care for sometimes helps “get you out of your own head”. 

If you love animals but aren’t ready or able to have your own, cuddle a friend’s pet or try volunteering at an animal shelter (after the virus risk has passed).

Self-care

It’s easy to neglect yourself when you work from home – technically you don’t have to face the world “in person”. But doing this day after day can take a negative toll on you (I can guarantee this from personal experience)!

I make sure to make my bed, get out of my pajamas and take a shower every day. No matter what, I must do those 3 things.

I might not wear any makeup or put nice clothes on, but at least I’m up, dressed and clean. Seeing my pale-faced, dark undereye circles – self day after day gets to me sometimes, so wearing a little bit of makeup is nice. I like to remember that I can look half presentable if I make an effort ๐Ÿ˜›

Once you’ve got the daily basics down, take it further! For example, allow yourself to have a nice long bubble bath from time to time. Or maybe set aside an hour to read that book you’ve been meaning to start for months.

Hobbies

Do you have a hobby that you really love but you just never get around to doing it? How does that make you feel? Guilty? Frustrated? Annoyed? Chances are it’s a negative feeling. 

Counter that negative feeling by planning some time to cultivate a hobby; either one you already have or a new one you’d like to try out. 

One of my favorite past times is metal detecting. I hadn’t gone detecting in SO long, because I just kept finding other more important things to do instead. Like working. But at a certain point, you have to stop working and just do something for you.  

When I was feeling down, I forced myself to go out and go detecting, and it was an instant mood lifter. It distracted me from my worries, I remembered why I loved my hobby so much, and got me excited to do more of it.

If you’re not sure what hobby is right for you, try asking some friends what their hobbies are – they might be able to introduce you to something you’ve never tried before!

Diet 

The food you put in your body is so important. You have to make sure you’re eating properly! And drinking enough water. 

My husband and I became vegetarian and I’m not going to lie, it’s been HARD. Eating became a struggle because we had no idea what to cook. Instead of looking forward to eating, I actually started to dread it!

We have never been super organized meal planners (although I honestly did try!), we ate out a lot, which of course is not a problem if you eat all types of food.

Becoming vegetarian forced us to meal plan, cook at home and be organized. 

Now we’ve found a balance: we try to eat mostly plant-based during the week, but we eat fish, eggs and cheese once a week, usually on weekends. No meat.

We realized that we need to eat and follow a diet that’s right for us, and not necessarily be super strict and label ourselves one dietary thing or another.

We also make sure to take supplements that are suitable for our type of diet – in our case, we’re taking Vitamins D and B12 and I also take a multivitamin every couple of days that has a bit of everything in it.  

Meditation

meditation is a great way to cope with anxiety

Meditation is probably the number 1 activity I would recommend if you feel like your thoughts are spiraling of control. It’s amazing how much we allow our thoughts to highjack us throughout the day!

Meditation is actually not super easy (at least for me – I’m still learning!), but the awesome thing is that you can benefit from it even if you do it for just 1 minute a day. And just like with anything else, the more you practice it, the better you get and the more benefits you take away from it.

I recommend doing Sam Harris’s Introductory Waking Up course – he is fantastic at introducing meditation to beginners and knows exactly where a beginner would get stuck or have trouble.

You access the course through the Waking Up app, and you can try it out for free. After the free trial, you’d need to pay a subscription fee.

  • (download for android here,
  • download for iphone here)

Of course, you can try literally any other meditation app or service that you like.

Calming the mind is essential if you suffer from anxiety – please, please consider giving it a shot as it can be life-changing!

Practicing Gratitude

I’m trying to keep a gratitude journal but honestly, so far I’m not feeling any obvious positive effects. I added it here because I know keeping a gratitude journal does wonders for some people. It certainly can’t do you any harm so it’s worth giving it a shot. I like to do it at night before bed – it only takes a few minutes. 

A friend who also struggled with finding the benefits of gratitude journaling recommended writing down things that make you happy, instead. This also works and keeps the positive energy flowing. 

Alternatively, you can just take a few moments every day to think about what you’re grateful for, without taking the steps to write it down.

Find Support

Lastly, don’t be afraid to talk to someone if you’re feeling down or anxious! You might be surprised that they share a lot of the same worries or also just need someone to chat with. 

I had a couple of really lovely friends that I talked to, and of course my husband was so wonderful and listened patiently to all my worries, no matter how silly they were.

I also talked to my doctor because I didn’t know what was going on, and he was so helpful and provided guidance in a time where things were very unclear to me. 

Talk to a friend, a doctor, a therapist, a counselor or a family member. If you can’t find someone you know personally (or trust enough) to chat with, look online for support, or search for support hotlines in your country. Often workplaces provide some counseling free of charge, so check with your HR department as well.

You are NOT alone! 

Conclusion!

I had to make a lot of changes over the past few months to dig myself out of a hole that I actually had no idea I was in!

I think I was in denial for a long time and didn’t want to face the fact that I had a lot of work to do on myself on a personal level. Whereas all I wanted to do was work and shut my eyes to the rest.

Unfortunately, this is only sustainable for so long.

Don’t make the same mistake I made: take care of yourself!

I hope you can take something away from all this, and if not, maybe share it with someone else that you know is having a hard time right now. Goes without saying that it’s not meant to be any sort of professional advice, just advice from a friend who has spent a lot of time at home in isolation ๐Ÿ™‚

This is a scary and unprecedented situation, but we are in it together. I think the best we can do is remember to take care of ourselves and each other and just take things day by day.

I like to believe that a lot of good will also come from this: we will learn, we will find a new appreciation for things that we previously took for granted, and that it will bring about fundamental positive change on earth!

Take care of yourself and stay healthy and safe! 

If you got this far, you might also want to check out this YouTube video I made, about how to decorate your home to help ease anxiety and depression.

Or read the article here!

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