News coverage of the Coronavirus is spreading faster than the actual virus itself and so is public anxiety.
It wasn’t until I recently found myself calming the manager of a major shopping center whose stress levels were sky rocketing, that I realised the effect this pandemic is having on people’s mental health and state. If that was not enough to worry me, I had a local nurse thank me for not abusing her due to their delay in appointment times.
Now we all know that negative news travels faster, and a lot deeper on social media networks than anything, so since the outbreak of Coronavirus it has all been doom and gloom – making it hard for even the optimistic to stay positive.
It is extremely important that we take this virus very serious as it is causing illness, death, and drastic changes to how we work and live, but to what extent do we go? To the point of being petrified, afraid, and anxious?
It is one thing to watch the news, but the media is not holding back on this Coronavirus pandemic as the governments and experts around the world are giving us constant updates on efforts to control the Coronavirus outbreak. This can sometimes feel as though we are constantly being bombarded with negative news, and social media are doing us no favors here either.
When viral videos are circulating social networks of people fist fighting over toilet paper and hand sanitiser in grocery stores, we have to begin to examine the downside of information overload, which can prompt a sense of panic which is then amplified as more people share it.
Yes, currently the world is dealing with a pandemic and the anxiety is real, and it seems strange to say, we should all be positive right now, but being positive is essential in any time of crisis.
The Australian Government’s economic response of $17.6 billion will protect the economy by maintaining confidence, supporting investment and keeping as many people as possible in jobs. Additional household income and business support will flow through to strengthen the wider economy. But since more places move into lockdown and more people self-isolate there is an increase in public anxiety and stress.
We are distancing ourselves from family and friends, working remotely and losing jobs, and this may make us start to feel anxious, uncertain and bored, but as human nature emerges,
“We as a nation will rise to this challenge”
Now, research tells us positivity can impact our mental wellbeing and immune functioning, so while it is important to stay informed on the updates, there are also many things we can do to support and manage our wellbeing during these times.
If you are finding yourself overwhelmed at the moment try some of the following tips to help you and your family stay positive.
Maintain a healthy balance with media coverage
In a world of 24/7 rolling news and social media updates, it can be easy to get drawn into speculation and hype. Limit the amount of times a day you view news and stick to respected news sites. Some people like to do this in the morning, the afternoon, or the evening.
Reach out to your support network
In stressful times of uncertainty it can be easy to self-isolate and keep to yourself but it’s crucial to maintain human interaction to reduce anxiety levels. Talking to friends, family and maintaining strong connections and relationships will help you feel more supported and surrounded by positivity. It can also help you to avoid feeling low or lonely.
Video call family and friends
Video calls are essential to maintaining personal connections in these times with those who matter most to you. Seeing the faces of those close to you will help you connect emotionally and keep the bond with people you generally have contact with. Video calls are available through Skype, Messenger and Facetime on your mobile phone.
Have a movie night with friends
Missing your friends? You can still host a movie night, virtually! If you’re using the Chrome browser on your computer, you can install a plugin called Netflix Party to watch a film together. The plugin allows you to send each other messages and you can pause the movie if you want to take a break.
It is one of the world’s fastest growing social media apps, so if you haven’t been paying attention to TikTok, you haven’t been paying attention. TikTok is a social video-sharing app. Users can shoot, edit, and share 15-second videos jazzed up with filters, music, animation, special effects, and more. This can be a lot of fun for the whole family, especially if you have children at home. Like its fellow social media apps, users can also follow, like, and comment on everything they see.
Start an exercise program
Facebook, believe it or not, is useful for more than staying in touch with your old friends from high school. Check out some free fitness-related Facebook groups on the social platform and start joining those that suit your interests.
Hire a coach
Get some life and business advice, fitness guidance, or nutritional recommendations to help you reach your fitness goals. A life coach will encourage you to tackle difficult situations and can help you to stay focused and feel positive.
Go outside and enjoy some sunlight while reading a book. Read about things you’ve always been interested in but never found the time to learn. By relaxing in the sunlight, you are giving your brain a chance to process the pleasure of the finer things in life. This can also boost your serotonin.
Dance floor workout session
This is one everyone can join in on – get each member of the family to choose their favorite tunes, get them on shuffle, push back all the furniture in the living room and then bust out your best, and worst moves. This will help you stay active while you’re stuck inside, burn off a few calories and also burn up some of the children’s energy.
Enroll in an online course
There are so many free online courses out there that you can work on in your own time. Whether there’s a skill or a gap in your knowledge that you need for your job or just a subject you’re interested in learning more about, there’s loads you can choose to do while you have time while you’re at home.
Listen to TED Talks
TED Talks are influential videos from expert speakers on education, business, science, tech and creativity. The TED Foundation fosters the spread of great ideas. It aims to provide a platform for thinkers, visionaries and teachers, so that people around the globe can gain a better understanding of the biggest issues faced by the world and feed a desire to help create a better future.
Spruce up your home
So, you’ve been wanting to spruce up your home for a while now but there’s never a good time? What better time than when you’re stuck inside? Order some new decorations, re-paint a room or simply have a clear out and tidy up. You will enjoy spending time at home if you love your environment. Just be sure to get your supplies delivered so you don’t have to go out.
There are tons of meditation apps that you can download onto your phone. Meditation can help you deal with stress and negative emotions. Multiple studies have shown that meditation can help reduce levels of depression and anxiety, while mindful breathing can be really helpful to calm down the body’s nervous system. Regular meditation can improve the mind, heart, and body.
Create a spa day
If we are feeling physically and emotionally distressed, it’s important to find ways to feel good and relaxed. Taking a bath, putting cucumbers on your eyes, or making your own face mask can make you feel more relaxed. Painting our nails and toes is not just soothing, but also helps us feel more put together. For many of us, part of our identity is connected to what we look like.
Pick up a new hobby
With extra time on your hands, why not learn a new skill? Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to play an instrument, learn a new language or learn to paint. You can learn to do just about anything with the help of friends, family, books and online resources. It’s time to start ticking off your goals!
Do a puzzle or play a board game
If you’re self-isolating alongside family members or a housemate, crack out a board game and pass some time rolling dice. We don’t recommend Pandemic but Scrabble, Pie Face and Monopoly are all fun. Puzzles are another great way to keep occupied — and the bigger, the better.
Camp out with the kids
You may not be able to go on holiday now, but you can create your own mini trip in your back yard. Set up a tent, roast some marshmallows on a fire and sleep under the stars! Getting some fresh air will do you good anyway and it’s also a great idea to keep children entertained. Not only would be it fun, but also affordable!
Limit your social media time
Try not to buy into all the negativity. Social media news feeds can quickly turn compulsive and counterproductive – fueling anxiety rather than easing it. The limit is different for everyone, so pay attention to how you’re feeling and adjust accordingly. On most smartphones you can also check your social media usage and see how many minutes or hours per day you are spending on social media – check these stats, you may be surprised.
But most importantly, take this opportunity to spend time with your family, hug your children more and remind your loved ones how much you love them. These types of crises can bring out the best and worst in humans. Hopefully the best in human nature will rise from this crisis.
Look after yourself. Staying healthy does not just mean taking vitamins, it means eating healthy balanced meals, exercising, having sufficient amount of sleep, keeping your body clean and keeping a healthy state of mind. Don’t be afraid to reach out if you are struggling. If we cannot help you directly, we can most certainly refer you to an organisation who can.
Written by: Suzi Bidwell