Crack Open a Corona: Dealing with Pandemic Stress

Everyone knows about it, without it needing to be said. On the street, in lines at stores, and essentially everywhere in the world, people keep their distance, trying not to make a big deal of the underlying feeling everyone seems to share: fear. Needless to say, we are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. Whether you’re one who believes in the severity of the disease, someone who believes it’s all a hoax for government control, or whatever else you might believe, there appears to be a universal concern for the state of our country, and even world. Fear of death. Fear of economic devastation. Fear of government control.

Personally, I am not a fan of living in fear. Despite a history of anxiety, I find myself rather unfazed by all the chaos in the world. I’m sticking to myself, trying to be productive, and somewhat succeeding; I’m writing this, aren’t I? It’s not that I don’t believe there will be harsh, life-altering consequences from this pandemic and the way the U.S. Government is handling it, I just don’t find it in my best interest to worry about things I can’t control. Somehow, over the years, I’ve taken control of my emotions for the most part. Nowadays, I very rarely throw myself into an emotional tailspin that ends in a deep depressive state. Surely medication helps with this fact, but a lot of it is my own mindset and how I’ve cultivated my thinking to be a little bit more positive.

In times like these, positivity is more important than ever. For a lot of people, a quick and effective source of positivity is consuming media. Whether it be a favorite TV show, a great album, or watching a YouTuber they enjoy, everyone has their choice of escapism, and I wholeheartedly stand by that. I personally consume a lot of YouTube, because, well, it’s free. That being said, I think that throwing yourself solely into distractive media is not a catch-all for handling coronavirus anxiety and stress. So, I’m going to share some of my own techniques for managing anxiety and cultivating positivity in these trying times.

Awareness

The single most key factor in maintaining my sanity has been awareness of my needs and unhealthy habits. By making sure I don’t bury anything, and keeping my reality on the surface, I concentrate my effort into good things while trying my best not to fall back into bad habits. This isn’t to say you won’t make mistakes, let yourself fall back into a negative mindset or into bad habits (overeating, oversleeping, not exercising, to share some of my own), but awareness is the first step to actually getting out of them in the first place. Then getting out of them again. And again.

Another thing to be aware of is your own resilience. Just like you’re damn capable of warding away or fighting off COVID-19, you’re damn capable of re-writing the rhetoric in your own head. Do you feel like you’ve failed? You haven’t. It’s important that you be aware of that.

Also be aware of how things WILL make you feel, not just how they make you feel in the moment. For me, I need to constantly remind myself of the inevitable nausea, constipation, heartburn, and acid reflux that will result when I decide it’s a good idea to binge eat for hours on end. While it may be cathartic in the moment, it’s going to catch up with me later. It’s important to be aware of that.

Creativity

I know better than anyone how difficult it can be to be creative. Despite being a “writer,” I very rarely actually get any work done on my projects. In times like these, it’s important to make time for yourself to be creative, or make small goals you believe you can meet. Maybe it’s doodling. Maybe it’s writing. For me, lately, it has been journalling. I’ve been bullet journalling lately, and it has been both a creative outlet for me and a helpful organizational tool.

If you don’t generally engage in any “creative” pursuits, use this time to focus on a hobby or interest that you don’t often make enough time for. It’s good to feel like you’ve done something good for yourself, especially when it feels like there’s very little good around.

Organization

I’m not a naturally organized person. I need to expend a lot of energy to get organized, and once I get there, I’m not amazing at keeping things that way. A lot of people, it seems, have decided to quarantine themselves (if they aren’t being forced to), and when you’re in your house for extended periods of time, this is even more important. A clean environment helps keep your mind clean. This is pretty basic, yet extremely difficult to maintain. I encourage anyone who is struggling to keep their thoughts straight to set aside time to make progress on cleaning or organizing. Not only that, but it’s a productive use of time spent indoors.

Also, if you’re a student like me, you may be worrying about managing online classes once they start up. I personally set up a bullet journal spread which I’m going to use to keep track of my classes, with a dedicated daily period where I will try and force myself to do work, as if I’m going to an actual class. I dedicated one weekday to each class, and once I get more information from my professors, I’m going to fill in each day with what I’ll try to get done. It was a cathartic exercise to create it, and it will hopefully be a productive one to use it.

quarantine

Self-Care

This one, really, is simple. Act like you’re leaving the house. Try to shower. Put on clothes. Brush your hair. Even put on makeup, if you want to. It’s a good idea to continue as if you were living your life normally. Of course, you can also treat yourself to a relaxing bath or face mask if those are things you partake in and happen to have available to you.

It’s also a good idea to stay out of your bed as much as possible. For me, at least, it’s a good way to keep myself from fall into lazy habits like sleeping, binging, or just, well, being unproductive.

Anyway, that’s really what I’ve been doing to try and stay sane. Remember, none of us are alone in this. Now is a more important time than ever to come together (from a distance) and support each other. It’s also important to help yourself, though. Don’t let this virus tear you down. In the end, the world will keep turning. Stay strong. Keep on. Sit back, and crack open a Corona. Sip it, inhale, exhale, and try to relax.