I’ll get to some suggestions to help us all get through this anxiety-provoking crisis in a minute, but first I want to share an observation and a hope.
There’s a bit of irony in our current situation vis-à-vis the Covid 19 pandemic and social distancing that I’m not sure many people have grasped.
Amidst a sort of generalized worry that earbuds, earphones, smartphones, video games, and the like are cutting us off from each other—a social distancing that’s been going on for years—we’re all in a tizzy about being cut-off from one another because of the novel coronavirus.
I get that being in quarantine isn’t fun. There is only so much family time and binge watching a body can handle. But I’m sort of gladdened by the idea that people have reconnected with the idea that we need to be connected… even if they haven’t really thought about it in those terms.
See also: 5 Must-See Movies for Bird Lovers
One of the silver linings I’m looking for is a renewed appreciation for each other. Maybe, instead of avoiding eye contact, we’ll say “hi” and “good morning” a little more. Nothing drastic; just an acknowledgement that we’re not islands.
But for now, while we are islands, we need to get through the loneliness, stress, and anxiety that this pandemic as brought. These few ideas should help. If you have other ideas, don’t be stingy—share them in the comments section.
How to Relieve Stress During Quarantine
Stress effects every system in your body, and prolonged stress can have adverse long-term health effects. So, it makes sense during this highly stressful time, that we take the time to do what we can to lower our stress levels.
Play Soothing Music
Music calms the savage beast. It’s also efficient in calming the stressed-out human.
Music can affect both our emotional and physiological states. And just like bass-heavy, loud rockin’ tunes can get you jazzed for an evening out, the melodic tunes of classic music can calm your nerves. Specifically, slower instrumental music played softly in the background has proven to be so effective in reducing stress and anxiety that it is used to calm patients before surgery.
Do Some Birdwatching
Did you really expect me not to mention bird watching?
According to Statista.com, there were 12.34 million active birdwatchers in the United States. In 2008, the year of the housing market crash and a time of tremendous stress, there were 14.4 million—the highest number in 12 years. Coincidence? Maybe. But still interesting.
With that many birdwatchers (and that you’re reading this article on EverythingBirds.com), chances are you’re one of them. And you likely recognize the feeling you get when you spot a bird you’ve been searching for, or a species for the first time, or it’s a rare sighting. That feeling is excitement and it’s the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps stave off depression (and dementia).
Birdwatching also gets you up and out. You could sit on your porch and watch nature’s most free animal flit among your bushes and trees. You could also go for a solitary walk, get some exercise, and experience a sense of freedom yourself.
See also: A Beginner’s Guide to Birding
Bathe Yourself in Light
Intuitively, you know you feel better when you’re out in the sunshine. There’ something about the longer days of spring and summer that just make us feel good. And that something is more complicated than the warmth of the sun on your face.
We can extrapolate a bit from the use of light box treatment for people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and some forms of depression.
According to the Mayo Clinic, brain chemicals associated with mood and sleep are affected by exposure to light. Light therapy, which is also known as bright light therapy or phototherapy, is intended to affect these chemicals and reduce the symptoms of SAD.
I am not suggesting you order a light box; light boxes can have some negative side effects.
Instead, get out into the sunshine. Take a walk in a park or a short hike. As long as you aren’t in a crowd, this can be wonderful therapy for the cooped up feeling you may be experiencing. If you’re indoors, make sure you keep the lights on.
Enforce Some Quiet Time
With children home from school, establishing some quiet time may be difficult. At the same time, because they’re home from school, you could consider some peace and quiet essential to everyone’s well-being.
Turn off the tv. Shut down the computers, phones, and electronic games. Then, just be.
Meditation, making a gratitude list, deep breathing, yoga, and tai-chi are all ways you can relieve stress. Any repetitive action will also relieve stress, so go ahead and pick up the knitting needles, bounce a basketball, complete a crossword or other puzzle, do some weeding, baking, painting, or coloring. Each will help relieve stress and anxiety.
Whatever you do to cope with the current crisis, remember that this too shall pass. In the meantime, stay away from crowds and wash your hands frequently. Stay well.