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by Aarti Gupta, PsyD
Aarti Gupta COVID-19 Lockdown

Since the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic, many of us, even those who have not been infected by the virus, will choose to quarantine in our homes for the upcoming weeks. Capsized travel plans, indefinite isolation, panic over scarce re-sources and information overload could be a recipe for unchecked anxiety and feelings of isolation. Here are a few pointers that could help you survive spiraling negative thoughts about this uncertain time.

1.) Reframe “I am stuck inside” to “I can finally focus on my home and myself”

As dismal as the world may feel right now, think of the mandated work-from-home policy as an opportunity to refocus your attention from the external to the internal. Doing one productive thing per day can lead to a more positive attitude. Set your sights on long-avoided tasks, reorganize, or create something you’ve always wanted to. Approaching this time with a mindset of feeling trapped or stuck will only stress you out more. This is your chance to slow down and focus on yourself.

2.) Stay close to your normal routine

Try and maintain some semblance of structure from the pre-quarantine days. For those individuals with children, sticking to a routine might be easier; however as you work from home, it could be tempting to fall into a more lethargic lifestyle, which could lead to negative thinking. Wake up and go to bed around the same time, eat meals, shower, adapt your exercise regimen, and get out of your PJ’s. Do laundry on Sundays as usual. Not only will sticking to your normal routine keep you active and less likely to spiral, it will be easier to readjust to the outside world when it’s time to get back to work.

3.) Avoid obsessing over endless Coronavirus coverage

Freeing up your day from work or social obligations gives you plenty of time to obsess, and if you have a tendency to consult Google for every itch and sneeze, you may be over-researching the pandemic as well. Choosing only certain credible websites (who.int or cdc.gov is a good start) for a limited amount of time each day (perhaps two chunks of 30 minutes each) will be in your best interest during this time.

4.) A chaotic home can lead to a chaotic mind

With all the uncertainly happening outside your home, keep the inside organized, predictable and clean. Setting up mental zones for daily activities can be helpful to organize your day. For example, try not to eat in bed or work on the sofa- just as before, eat at the kitchen table and work at your desk. Loosening these boundaries just muddles your routine and can make the day feel very long. Additionally, a cluttered home can cause you to become uneasy and claustrophobic of your environment- so keep it tidy.

5.) Start a new quarantine ritual

With this newfound time, why not do something special during these quarantined days? For ex-ample, perhaps you can start a daily journal to jot down thoughts and feelings to reflect on later. Or take a walk every day at 4 pm, connect with your sister over FaceTime every morning, or start a watercolor painting which you can add to everyday. Having something special during this time will help you look forward to each new day.

6.) Use telehealth as an option to talk to a professional if your anxiety becomes unmanageable

Many licensed psychologists are offering telehealth options over HIPAA-compliant video chat platforms. Remember to reach out for help if your anxiety is reaching proportions that is unmanageable without professional help.

Letting go of illusions of control and finding peace in the fact that you are doing your part to “flatten the curve” will certainly build mental strength to combat the stressful situation the whole globe is experiencing.
 


About the Author

Dr. Aarti Gupta, PsyD is Founder and Clinical Director at TherapyNest, A Center for Anxiety and Family Therapy in Palo Alto, California. She specializes in evidence-based treatment for a wide spectrum of anxiety disorders, including OCD, panic disorder, social anxiety, trichotillomania, and generalized anxiety disorder. Dr. Gupta serves on ADAA's public education committee.

This article does bring in some positivity. The lockdown has enabled me to work on my hobbies...I now paint and draw as much as I used to when I was younger. Cooking and listening to upbeat music also helps beat the blues. In general, working with one's hands on any activity really helps calm the mind. Yes, the situation is a crappy one and like everyone across the world, I too wish to step out of my house, free of fear and anxiety over Coronavirus. But given how things are, it's better to be indoors and wait for things to improve. Till then, coping is the only way forward...

i"d like to thank you for all the points you made and the details of all the points...i"m practicing all of it plus i started working on my health too...i started by walking a mile..now i"m walking 8 miles a day...to the first person who commented on this article by saying he needs to make money more then anything else...taking dance classes etc...focus on your health...theres no use being the richest person on a graveyard..no ones ever benefited from money if they're dead

When the virus started didn't think much about it. But when it sank in I got depressed and got to the point of suicide. My meds aren't helping with the stress. Doing distance running, no appetite . Bad days consist of crying and dark thoughts.

I retired in June but I'm not able to do all the things I would have liked to do due to lockdown. I have done gardening and jobs around the house, I have been going for walks for the last few weeks. I now feel as though I can't do anything now.

I have been a stay at home mom/daycare provider for 15 years. We moved in Sept of 2019 and I hadn’t found something new yet. We were just getting settled in after the holidays and corona hit. I suffer from anxiety and panic, and people say I should get a job or volunteer to ease my isolation, it just seems like after all this time, why start a new job in the midst of a pandemic. I’ve been quarantined since March and I cry every day.

can u tell me I'm doing self isolate and waiting for my result can I take anxiety medication bc I have so much anxiety

These lock downs are ridiculous and cause far more stress to me than anything I've seen before. We need to stop.

This was so helpful, thank you. This is the second lockdown in the uk and for the first, I was living with my mother and daughter but for this one, I am living on my own in a small studio flat. Some days are harder than others.
Just reading your tips and mindset ideas have lightened my heart a bit as I was worried this was/is affecting my mental state and worried about my near future's mental health. I feel the anxiety and depression at times...
I wish I could face time people more often, but my close friends are so busy wiht their families and jobs they hardly have time for a call once a month! I'll try to think of others who'd like to facetime and not rely on my close friends only.
Wishing you a good day!

All the best.

Although I don't have to worry about money. because my step mom works in a hospital, I still have troubles. My school just said they are going back into virtual and it's scary for me. My grades are suffering, my relationships are suffering and so is my mental health. No, I don't have to worry about where my next meal is coming from and I'm so grateful for that but that doesn't mean I don't feel helpless, trapped. I'm meeting with my counselor before school goes to virtual because I don't want to do it over google meet because part of the problem is my family. Not everyone has someone to reach out to. Also this is my freshman year, I have a new school, new teachers, and new people that I won't talk to again for months because of this. Remember, we're all going through this no matter age, money, family, gender, or race. Stay safe.

Thank you for your positive and constructive outlook on this situation. Its so easy for us to get wrapped up in our fears, fears that have only been manifested mentaly through this world that we see.....while others are dealing with this pandemic on totally different scale, loss, loss of a loved one or income. We are so important to each other, all of us, all cultures, we need each other to lift up those who are hurting, who have lossed something or someone. We are loved and there is purpose bigger than our circumstances, easier said then done.....but will it not be said or done regardless of our circumstance? We arent here to talk about our different situations with judgement or pride but humility and compassion God Bless you all, stay safe, we are in this together.

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