NOW READING How to Deal With Anxiety in the Age of COVID-19
March 25, 2020

How to Deal With Anxiety in the Age of COVID-19

You may have heard it a million times, but it bears repeating: We’ll all get through this, one Netflix Party at a time.


A lot of us deal with poor mental health on a daily basis, and at times like this during the current global pandemic, our mental well-being may decline even further. With the news of sickness and death pouring in from all corners of the Earth and reports of bare grocery store shelves, it’s difficult not to exist in a perpetual state of worry. I’m here to tell you that we’ll all get through this and to offer some tips for coping with any anxiety you may be experiencing.



But first, calm


First things first, take a deep breath. It’s easy to drift into panic mode, especially since we’re inundated with news of the outbreak 24/7 on TV and social media. People are either not taking it seriously and causing anxiety to those who understand the severity of the pandemic or overreacting by buying way more supplies than they need, making those who cannot find necessities feel underprepared or just plain worried about being unable to eat or practice basic hygiene.






As long as you’re being careful by washing your hands, disinfecting high-contact surfaces, and practicing social distancing, you’ll be alright. And remember, social distancing isn’t necessarily for your sake. It’s to protect people like the elderly, pregnant, or those with compromised immune systems.



Set up your new normal


If you have to work from home, it’s important to set a routine for yourself. Don’t try to work in bed in your pajamas, grabbing fistfuls of Corn Pops out of the box with one hand while you scroll through email with the other. If you don’t have some kind of check-in system that your office uses to make sure you’re working, it’s easy to slack off, binge-watch Netflix shows, or sleep the day away. Since you’re eventually going to go back to work, it’s imperative that you maintain your regular schedule so that when you do have to resume a normal commute, getting out of bed in the morning doesn’t feel like summiting Mt. Everest.


When you wake up, get out of bed, take a shower, and put on some clothes — you don’t have to don a power suit, some jeans or loungewear will do. Go through your usual AM routine (coffee/tea/brekkie), and then sit down to work at an actual table or desk. Take a break for lunch whenever you usually do, and clock out at your usual time. Treat it like a regular workday, just without the drive/train ride. If you find yourself unable to focus without the structure of an actual office, try the Pomodoro method. Breaking your periods of productivity into chunks could help you get a lot more done than staring at the ceiling willing your brain to work.



burnout anxiety during a pandemic



Take advantage of the free time 


For a lot of freelancers out there, work is scarce or nonexistent during this time, thanks to the virus. The smaller organizations and businesses whose work is heavily skewed towards social events or who can’t afford to operate during this time have canceled gigs, leaving freelancers high and dry. Being out of work sucks not just because you’re idle but because it’s taking money out of your pocket. There are some lists and spreadsheets out there with opportunities for remote work, and hopefully, quite a few people will be able to secure jobs that way.


While I can’t play Daddy Warbucks for everyone in need, I can suggest a few ways you could fill your free time. Find little things to do around your house each day, like a honey-do list of sorts for yourself: Replace that dead bulb in the hallway, do the pile of laundry you’ve been collecting for 2 weeks, reorganize your pantry, clean your fridge, etc. This is also a good time to learn a new DIY craft or lose yourself in a good book or tackle that YA series you’ve been meaning to read. I personally recommend the Red Queen and Throne of Glass series. The Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist was just released not too long ago, so you could work your way through that.



books and sheet mask



You could also practice yoga or deep breathing, stream a movie or show with friends using Netflix Party, have a virtual dinner date via Facetime, or practice mindfulness. Don’t worry about having to be productive during the downtime if you don’t have to. Remember, rest is also essential.



Work off some steam


Boredom + anxiety is often not a great combination. You have so much more time on your hands to worry about everything, and sometimes you might feel so restless and frustrated that you want to scream. When that happens, try to blow off some steam with a home workout. There are tons of free videos on YouTube like those offered by my favorite FitnessBlender. Cassie Ho of Blogilates has created a “14-Day Quarantine Workout Plan” for everyone who needs to get their fitness on while they self-isolate at home. With these resources or any others you find on the vast interwebs, you can boost endorphins for a better mood, improve sleep quality, and keep you active while we wait out the storm.



Put the phone down


Like I mentioned, living in the age of portable technology social media means that we are flooded with information every minute of every day. During the pandemic, Facebook and Twitter timelines are awash with news of infection rates, closings, and product shortages, and the same is on TV when you watch the news. These days, things seem to have gone from informative to panic-inducing, and for those with not-so-great mental health, it might be harder than usual to take it day by day.



anxiety during a pandemic



Try to keep the media exposure to a minimum to reduce anxiety. If your phone has the capability, limit your time on apps like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and CNN to an hour or two each day. I generally have timers set for social media because sometimes seeing people live out their seemingly perfect, happy lives makes me compare myself to them unfavorably. Timers also ensure that you don’t hurt your eyes or lose time scrolling infinitely on feeds. It’s a win-win.


Stay safe, stay home if you can, and wash your hands. And don’t forget to check in on your friends and family to make sure that they’re doing alright. We’re all in this together, so let’s do our best to flatten the curve. And if you’ve got any tips that you use to combat anxiety during the pandemic, let me know in the comments below. We could all use some new coping mechanisms during this time.



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All you have to do is comment below, and tell us what you’re doing to cope during this time of self-isolation.


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Karachi discovered K-beauty in 2015 and fell wallet-first into the fray. When she’s not binge-watching a TV series or losing herself in a book, she’s creating wish lists of new stuff to try and reading posts by her favorite bloggers. Learning has been a lifelong hobby for her and she truly enjoys geeking out about the amazing things different ingredients can do for skin.




These are great tips. These times are definitely weird, stressful, and worrying. Thank you for the awesome advice to help get us all through this together, as far apart as we all may be.


Thanks for these tips! I've been videochatting with old friends to reconnect, trying new recipes, and running outside (staying 6 ft away from people of course).


It's so easy to fall into a rut and today more than ever, there are so many of us receiving the same information and being effected at different levels. Some of the things I'm doing is going on ZOOM and connecting with old friends and colleagues. Life has had us so busy and technology had taken us so far away from everyone. Well, ironically I use it to connect with those whom I truly love, inspire me and want to connect with. In fact this coming Sunday we are all joining in for a concert and... Read more


These tips are so important. I have GAD so this has been so hard for me. The best things that have helped me is getting outside even if it's only on my porch or by reading and self care


It's been hard to not sleep the day away during this time for me. I am guilty of spending the first few days sleeping for most of the day, but lately I've been trying to sleep early and wake up early so I would able to have more productive days.
To cope with this depressing situation, I've been making use of this time to try out new recipes that have been bookmarked for so long. I find that cleaning and organizing to be relaxing as well. I am slowly getting back into exercising and I am hoping to try yoga... Read more


I’ve dealt with anxiety my entire life and it’s a horrible feeling. This increase level of isolation is making my anxiety even worse. To try to keep myself occupied, I’ve been focusing on taking long baths with music and candles, doing manicures and pedicures, facials and hair masks… Focusing on self-care. Making myself shower or bathe every day and changing out of my pajamas makes a huge difference. It’s easy to sleep the day away on the couch when you’re not working. Keeping the house organized and keeping up with laundry and trying to stick to normal activities of daily... Read more


For myself, the activities that relieve my stress the most are skincare and exercising. Once I've done those things for the day, I go through my closet. In purging my closet, I not only free up space but it's a good way to make a little money. With my clothes that are still in good condition, I list them on eCommerce websites. Another thing I've been doing is creating skincare routines for my friends and family. It's not only fun but productive as well. It gives me and them something to look forward to that is self-care and not self-destructive.  Read more


Arts and crafts! Working on a cross stitch pattern as well as sewing masks to help healthcare workers. Long walks around my neighborhood help to maintain my step goal and stay active.


I'm lucky to have a job that can be done remotely, but it's certainly hard to focus these days! I think I need to follow your advice to use a timer when reading news or social media. I also need to spend more time outside -- again, I'm lucky to have enough space to get outdoors without being around other people. I'm hoping the weather starts to cooperate soon!


Me too! In the early days of our shelter in place, I was refreshing the news so often, mostly to educate myself on how and what to do to avoid infection. But I found that that resulted in a subtle, insidious spiraling into depression, and I finally had to stop. Now, I check the news in the morning and in the evening, and that has helped so, so much.

Also, I love those spreadsheets of remote work. So needed in these times, I had no idea they existed! Thanks hachisugoi for the info!

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