The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown may be causing a lot of stress and frustration for many people.
As a result, the situation may begin to take a toll on almost every aspect of contemporary life, and people may find it difficult to attain a sense of normality.
In this article, we provide tips on how a person can manage the uncertainty surrounding the current COVID-19 pandemic. We include prevention tips, as well as suggestions for how to maintain good mental and physical health.
Hand washing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of illness. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stress the importance of washing the hands after spending time in a public space or before touching the face.
For hand washing to be effective, the CDC advise washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If that is not possible, a person can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol instead.
The World Health Organization (WHO) advise that people avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth to prevent virus transmission.
To help avoid touching the face, people can try:
- using a scented hand soap, lotion, or sanitizer
- wearing a face mask or gloves
- finding an activity to keep the hands busy
Wearing a face mask may help slow the transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
The CDC recommend wearing a face mask or cloth face covering when out in public in a place where it may be difficult to maintain other preventive measures. They also say that people should wear face cloth coverings even if they are not showing any symptoms of COVID-19.
However, the WHO do not currently support the everyday use of face masks due to the potential risks and a lack of evidence to support their effectiveness. They advise people to wear one when looking after a person with COVID-19, though.
As the novel coronavirus continues to impact the world, it is increasingly important to take care of mental health.
A 2020 study assessing the well-being of 369 adults living in 64 cities across China after 1 month of confinement identified a pattern of worse mental and physical health among those who stopped working. Another study in Italy reported that being in lockdown may lead to a lower quality of sleep.
Some researchers are also worried about the potential increase in suicide rates due to the physical distancing measures that the pandemic has necessitated.
People can take many steps to help look after their mental health and improve their well-being. These may include:
People can try to create a daily routine to preserve a sense of purpose and normality.
For many people, this may involve scheduling regular times to wake up, eat meals, perform activities, and go to sleep. People should try to mimic a “normal” day as best they can. By structuring their day, a person should be able to keep themselves busy and active.
Less social media and news
While it is important to stay up to date with news, too much exposure may exacerbate feelings of fear, stress, and sadness. The American Psychological Association (APA) suggest restricting news to a reasonable limit.
The APA also recommend that people carefully select the news outlets that they use to search for information. A person should also only receive updates from reputable sources of information and be aware that posts on social media may be misleading.
During the current situation, people who now have extra time in the day may wish to use it to introduce healthful habits. For example, they can focus on getting enough sleep, eating balanced meals, and exercising regularly. Some people may also be able to pursue hobbies or activities for which they do not usually have time.
It is also important for people to try to avoid developing bad habits during this time. Some people may be tempted to find comfort in smoking more and consuming excessive food or alcohol. However, these habits can have a negative effect on health and may result in a person developing health conditions.
A sense of control
As the pandemic may feel overwhelming for many people, it is important for them to try to improve their sense of control and their ability to endure stressful situations.
A person should try to accept circumstances that they cannot change and instead focus on the steps that they can take to help reduce stress levels.
During this difficult time, it is important to maintain social relationships. Talking to friends and family on a regular basis may help reduce feelings of isolation and help people manage anxiety.
People can stay in touch through video calls, phone calls, texts, or emails. In some areas, the official guidance may permit people to meet others face to face if they adhere to physical distancing measures.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults do at least 150–300 minutes a week of moderate intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes a week of vigorous intensity aerobic exercise for substantial health benefits. As well as improving physical health, exercise may improve mental health and boost the immune system.
Some exercises that people may be able to perform during the pandemic include:
- Walking or jogging: Both walking and jogging are simple exercises that people can do during the pandemic. People who cannot find a safe spot outside where they are able to maintain their distance can try walking around their home and jogging on the spot.
- Cycling: As long as they remain a safe distance away from others, a person may enjoy going outside and cycling. A stationary bike also provides the option to cycle without leaving the home.
- Yoga: Yoga is a form of exercise involving slow movements and deep breathing that can not only relieve physical tension but also help relieve stress.
- Online classes: A person can find a number of online videos or live classes for various workouts. These may help people design an exercise program and provide some social interaction.
- Body weight exercises: A person does not need expensive gym equipment to stay active. They can instead perform a range of exercises using their body weight.
- Weightlifting: A person can also perform weightlifting without the need for gym equipment. If they do not have weights at home, they can substitute other items, such as heavy cans or books.
It is important for a person to contact a doctor if they develop symptoms of COVID-19.
According to the CDC, symptoms appear 2–14 days after exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Possible symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- muscle or body aches
- new loss of taste or smell
- a headache
- a sore throat
- shortness of breath
- congestion or runny nose
- nausea or vomiting
The current COVID-19 pandemic may be causing a lot of stress for many people. Fear and anxiety surrounding COVID-19 may feel overwhelming and cause strong emotions.
During these uncertain times, it is important to focus on maintaining good mental and physical health. It may also be a good time to attempt to establish a daily routine and healthful habits.
People should continue to follow preventive measures, such as hand washing and physical distancing. These strategies can help protect people from the coronavirus.
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