Lonely? Disconnected? Worried about the future? Everyone’s feeling the pressure and looking for ways to cope. Here are a few stress-busting solutions that are known to help during uncertain times.
Here in the Cayman Islands, like much of the rest of the world, many of us are working from home for the very first time. Many of us are also having to amuse and home-school our kids while keeping them cooped up indoors. People can’t go out on a whim, they can’t go to restaurants, lie on the beach, or hang out with friends and family. After two months of lockdown, the stress levels are high, the mental health impact is affecting just about everybody and we’re all having to learn how to deal with anxiety.
It’s heartening that the vast majority of people, at least here, are putting on a brave face and adhering to government restrictions and following expert advice, even if reluctantly. But the toll on mental health is hard to gauge, and we are unlikely to know the full extent until long after the damage is done. In order to survive with all your marbles intact, here are a few coping mechanisms that are known to help:
Separate Work and Leisure: Long-time home workers will be the first to tell you that separation of workspace is key to a stable life. Without a dedicated space and time for the often tedious tasks involved in making a living, boundaries begin to blur and the new homeworker suddenly finds that nothing gets done effectively, daily life has become an endless series of competing for domestic and career priorities. Think about it. How much work would you get done if there was a kindergarten under your office desk on a ‘normal’ workday?
Count Your Blessings: It’s hard to see the positives during a pandemic, but with good infrastructure, communication, logistics, and reliable electrical supply in the Cayman Islands, there are worse places to be. With a tropical setting, the novelty of suddenly having miles and miles of tourist-free beaches, our low-density and laid-back lockdown is a lot easier to endure than it is in so many other places.
Be Informed, but Ignore Most ‘News’: Speculation and opinion are not news. Uninformed commentary is not newsworthy. There is enough anxiety around without constant diet of social media and rolling news speculation from ill-informed pundits more interested in pushing a political or ideological agenda. Be discriminating, restrict your information gathering to once a day, from trusted sources. Social media is the new village pump, where the loudest and most vocal opinions are most likely the least informed and best ignored. Switch off that gabbling TV idiot, give yourself a break and concentrate on something that offers happiness instead of anxiety.
Stay Connected with Loved Ones: Make an extra effort to stay in touch with friends and family. Are you lonely, feeling disconnected, missing friends and family? Join the club. Everyone’s feeling the same, some are just better at managing it well compared to others. Pick up the phone, write an email, video chat, seek out people you miss, or are concerned about. We all appreciate a bit of attention, especially when we’re feeling we’re in a helpless situation.
Breathe, Relax: Stress is insidious. It tightens up our bodies, causes aches and pains. It taxes our minds, makes us paranoid, confused, and worried. Stress-busting is a vital step to deal with anxiety. Take a deep breath through your nose, hold it for five seconds, then let it out slowly for another five seconds. Try to do this every time you feel stress levels rising.
Step into the Light: Natural light is essential to our physical and mental wellbeing. Just 30 minutes a day being outdoors is all you need to improve mood and get some essential Vitamin D sunlight into the body. If you can’t go out, sit near a window to get those serotonin and melatonin levels up. Both are vital to mental health.