CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The entire world is in the middle of an unprecedented time and everyone is experiencing this pandemic for the first time, together. Health and wellness concerns can be scary enough but being forced to isolate from loved ones while completely upending daily routines can make people even more anxious.
The sense of having no control is something many people are likely feeling while isolating. But there are a few things we can do to feel like we have some control while we distance ourselves.
It's all over the news, on social media feeds and it’s coming straight from health officials. Coronavirus is something to take seriously. It's a lot of changing and scary information all at once, and the coronavirus is impacting mental health too.
"It is normal to be anxious right now,” says Daryl Appleton, LMHC, ED.D, a psychotherapist and executive coach.
More people than ever are keeping their distance at home. Schools, offices, restaurants and bars are all closed. Communicating with family and friends now happens virtually. It’s a big change that happened out of the blue.
“We need a routine in order to stay somewhat sane,” says Appleton.
She suggests making a routine in the parameters given. Try and get “normal” activities in the best way possible.
“That looks like intentionally setting time aside to go work out," she said. "Go for a walk, go outside, put your face in the sun. If you are working from home, make sure you schedule in times to eat. Netflix is great, but we don't want Netflix all day, that is not helpful. But absolutely watch really feel-good TV."
Look out for signs you're getting overwhelmed. Racing thoughts and a change in sleeping patterns can be red flags. Seek help if necessary, therapists are offering virtual sessions.
But this could also lead to post-traumatic growth.
It’s the opposite of post-traumatic stress disorder, meaning people come out of a stressful situation better than they went in. This is an opportunity to change perspective and view it as a time to focus and work on yourself.
“There is no better time than a quarantine or work from home to really look at how can I care for myself better, what does this look like, am I happy in my job, am I happy in my relationship?" Appleton said. "Hopefully there will be a group of people that will come out of this better than when they went in but it’s going to take intentional work and time and dedication to do that. But it is absolutely possible."
Several medical organizations have tips to cope with anxiety: