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9 Ways to Stay Positive Through COVID-19 Anxiety and Depression

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Real life feels like an episode of “Black Mirror” at the moment, and let’s just say, I’m not a fan of the show! The news is changing every hour of the day with the coronavirus (COVID-19), a new-to humans virus that causes respiratory infection and can lead to serious or fatal health complications. What used to feel far from reality once upon a time, is currently our reality! School closures, job losses, toilet paper madness and a financial crisis amidst a pandemic can be hard to handle all at once. Slowing down when you’re used to living life at a fast pace can make you feel unproductive and vulnerable. Navigating through all of this without a blueprint requires showing up for yourself every single day, choosing to look deep within and falling back on the things that usually ground you through difficult journeys. Here’s a list of nine things I’ve fallen back on over the past two weeks that have really helped me stay sane:

1. Accept the situation we are in.

That doesn’t mean you like, enjoy or want to be in it, neither does it mean you like the depression, anxiety or pain that comes along with it. Rather, you’re choosing to allow the situation to be what it is, without resisting or denying it, when you know there’s nothing you can do to change it. This will help you remain calm and have a more peaceful state of mind.

2. Start your day in a positive way.

The way we start our day helps set the right tone for the rest of the day. This can mean different things for different people. It can look like taking a moment to express gratitude, meditating, making your bed, taking a shower, having a facial routine, taking your vitamins, nurturing yourself with a healthy breakfast and/or stretching. Whatever it may be, find your own version of a perfect morning routine to increase your chances of remaining happier the rest of the day!

One of the biggest changes I’ve recently made to my morning routine is quitting mindless morning scrolling! And to be honest, I’ve already noticed how huge of a difference it can make! Here’s how Jay Shetty explains it— if you begin your day going through e-mails and social media, you’re letting 100 different notifications enter your mind. Would you let 100 different people walk into your bedroom first thing in the morning? I bet not! So why do that to your mind? Just like our bodies need time to wake up and get ready before interacting with people, so do our minds! So anchor in your morning routine before you let the world in.

3. Exercise/eat healthy/sleep well.

These are the very obvious and basic things we should be doing on the regular. However, at times like these, they become even more important since they help add a little bit of normalcy to our days. And Lord knows, we need that right now!

4. Take a walk in nature.

In addition to being able to “walk off” those negative emotions we are all currently experiencing, a walk in nature has countless health benefits such as improving the management of various conditions including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, joint and muscle pain and stiffness. It also increases our muscle strength, gives us stronger bones and reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. And while you’re at it, make sure you’re still keeping a distance of six feet from other people!

If for whatever reason going outside for a stroll isn’t an option, add plants around your home. Or watch YouTube videos of nature!

“Go out for a walk. It doesn’t have to be a romantic walk in the park, spring at its most spectacular moment, flowers and smells and outstanding poetic imagery smoothly transferring you into another world. It doesn’t have to be a walk during which you’ll have multiple life epiphanies and discover meanings no other brain ever managed to encounter. Do not be afraid of spending quality time by yourself. Find meaning or don’t find meaning but ‘steal’ some time and give it freely and exclusively to your own self. Opt for privacy and solitude. That doesn’t make you antisocial or cause you to reject the rest of the world. But you need to breathe. And you need to be.” – Albert Camus

5. Create the right environment to live in.

The people you surround yourself with, the content you consume on a daily basis and the information you let influence your mind have a huge impact on your overall outlook. Spend less time on media sources that are constantly talking about COVID-19. And only let in the information that lifts you up and supports you! Tune into podcasts by inspirational and optimistic people. Attend Instagram live broadcasts to help cope with the fear, chaos and uncertainty. It’s actually what I’ve been relying on to feel more connected and rooted with the world! I’ve come to realize it’s such a great vessel for communities to come together and share their stories, truths and experiences of resilience and rising. The more I’ve been doing this, the more I have recognized myself in others and the less alone I’ve felt.

6. Separate fact from fiction.

Since most of us are currently hibernating in our homes, we are naturally spending a lot of time on social media. Now, let’s be real, many of us have been consuming an overload of COVID-19 content! And sadly, there’s fake news lurking around everywhere! I was recently sent a photograph of what appeared to be a live news telecast with the headline, “Russia unleashed more than 500 lions on its street to ensure that people are staying indoors during this pandemic outbreak.” A little Googling later, I realized it was fake news! So please, do your research and save yourself the panic and anxiety by only relying on news from trusted sources.

7. Find the positive in the negative.

Instead of wondering if things can get any worse, ask yourself, what’s the one thing that’s good or positive about this situation? Is there a hidden opportunity within the situation? Perhaps, you’re finally getting time to take care of you! To step into your fears, face the demons you’ve been trying to avoid and heal from within. Perhaps, you’re finally slowing down and spending time with the people who matter the most to you in your life! Perhaps, you’re finally working on the things you love and bring you the most joy!

8. Meditate.

Meditation is beneficial for both the mind and body. It is said to improve mindfulness, as well as reduce stress and anxiety. If it’s something you’ve never done before, I hear you, but apparently even two minutes a day is good to begin with! I am starting a 21-day meditation challenge this week, so I’ll keep you guys posted on my journey!

9. Practice gratitude.

Voice your blessings. Take out a few minutes every day to think of what you’re grateful for. Remember, nothing’s too small to be thankful for, so dig deep and appreciate every “good” thing in life. Notice the weather and the beauty in nature. Say thank you for the things you usually take for granted. Write them down in your gratitude journal or your phone, whichever you prefer. This is helpful to come back to when you need to be reminded of the positives in your life. In addition, express that gratitude to the people around you and help make their day a little brighter as well!

It goes without saying I’m no professional and these tips are all based on my own personal experiences. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to respond in this situation, so please don’t evaluate your worth based on that. Instead, let’s take this opportunity to bask in the reality we get to share this experience on a mass scale, and that means that our feelings of anxiety and depression are not isolated. That means that we can share (virtual) space and navigate this new norm together. So, reach out to those around you and don’t forget to be real, raw and truthful with one another!

Please let me know how you have doing and what’s been working for you in the comments below! Let’s use this space as a way to connect and be there for each other.

Struggling with your mental health due to COVID-19? Check out the following articles from our community:

A version of this article was originally published on Fabulous and Fatigued.

Getty image by Popmarleo

Originally published: April 6, 2020
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