Updated: March 18, 2020
It’s been several days since Metro Manila was placed under Community Quarantine. Being one of its residents, I’ve been obediently staying and working from home.
However, with cancelled meetings and postponed events, I honestly don’t have much professional work that I need to do. So, like probably most people, I log in to social media to see what’s been happening around.
Unfortunately, things aren’t looking better at the moment. Apart from the bad news and fake information that I see online, there’s also a war of opinions that’s raging through social media.
These times have made a lot of people anxious, on-the-edge, and even hypervigilant.
Thus today, I’d like to share some of the things I do to cope with these stressful times. They’ve been effective not only in managing anxiety, but also in maintaining my productivity.
1. This is normal.
The first thing that I needed to understand was that my responses to what’s been happening is normal. It is normal to feel stressed and anxious, because we’re in unfamiliar territory, facing an enemy we can’t see, which we don’t know (yet) how to defeat. Everyone is feeling it.
It was important for me to realize that I can’t (and shouldn’t) blame or berate myself for feeling anxious. Moreover, this self-awareness has also helped me in choosing the proper outlet to deal with this stress.
2. Engage with family and friends that you feel safe with.
People have different thoughts on how things are and how they should be. These differences in opinion and principles has led to a lot of ugly arguments on social media.
One thing that I’ve found helpful is to engage in conversations with family and friends who either, share the same opinion as I mine, or those whom I feel safe to have a discussion with in case we have a different take on a particular matter.
I believe that it’s important to express your thoughts. So, find someone whom you can talk with, where you feel safe to verbalize what’s in your mind.
3. Limit your exposure to news and social media.
It’s important to keep yourself updated, but consume only what you need from reliable sources. Stop chasing conspiracy theories, don’t share unverified information, and don’t engage in an opinion war because these will just add to your worry, stress, and anxiety.
What I normally do is go to the WHO website and the CDC portal for updates. Then I visit the profile of a few friends on Facebook whom I know have been sharing trustworthy information and local news updates.
And lastly, I give myself up to 15 minutes to scroll through my timeline. Afterwards, I disconnect and find something else to do.
Moreover, I only do this when I feel calm and grounded. Otherwise, I’ll probably just open Netflix.
4. Have a list of things that help you relax.
Each one manages stress and anxiety differently. Find the things that help you manage yours. And write it down, so you can easily refer to it when you start feeling agitated and anxious.
For me, the list includes watching something on Netflix, writing on my journal, doing a few minutes of mindful meditation, going on a brisk walk around the block, listening to my favorite music, taking a nap, and many others.
Create your own list, it will be fun.
5. Help in whatever way you can.
Lastly, help others. Because it’s been studied that helping others can provide relief from anxiety, and even depression. So find ways to help in whatever way you can. Remember that no good deed is too small, and any contribution that you do will always matter.
Personally, I’ve been sharing useful and helpful information online, particularly to family and friends. And I’ve also given a few donations to groups and organizations who are actively helping the community.
And of course, I’m using my content network and social media accounts to continue educating people about proper personal finance.
I hope that these five tips can help you manage your anxiety during these stressful times. These things have worked for me, and allowed me to remain motivated and productive in doing my work and other necessary day-to-day tasks.
However, if you feel that you need mental health support, then don’t be afraid to reach out and seek professional help.
In the Philippines, you can contact the National Center for Mental Health crisis hotlines at 0917-899-USAP (8727) or 7-989-USAP (8727).