For many, long months of quarantine and lockdown have exacerbated depression or anxiety. Some have experienced income loss. Others are grappling with lingering health issues or are mourning the loss of loved ones. For these individuals, getting out and about again may feel like yet another burden. They may feel self-conscious about their appearance or uncertain about their ability to cope. If this sounds like you, Cultural Society invites you to read on for helpful tips for recapturing your confidence and easing re-entry anxiety.
Choose healthy coping strategies.
Some may find it difficult right now to avoid falling into unhelpful habits that can adversely affect mental and physical wellness. Drinking, smoking, and binge-eating may seem to offer a quick fix when one is feeling low, but in the long run, they can exacerbate negative feelings and make it harder to pursue activities that enhance well-being.
When you are tempted to turn to less-healthy coping mechanisms, have clear and easy options for choosing better ones, such as meditating, listening to music, or doing a yoga routine. You want to set consistent and realistic goals and track them regularly. It’s important to recognize what might trigger anxiety or the impulse to seek out unhealthy options so you are prepared with a more helpful alternative near at hand.
Get control of your finances.
If you’ve lost your job or suffered financial hardship during the pandemic, seek ways to reduce stress by getting a handle on your finances. This could include eating in more often, working out at home instead of a gym, or mowing your own lawn rather than hiring a service. If you’re a homeowner, you may want to consider refinancing. This can either give you a cash injection or lower your monthly mortgage payments. By properly managing your finances, you’ll gain peace of mind and improved mental health.
Practice body positivity.
After almost two years of simply surviving a global pandemic, it’s understandable if you have been unable to pursue health and fitness and have found it difficult to eat well. Under these circumstances, as well as the pressures of stress, weight gain is simply a natural effect. While you may find that you feel better when you resume a more active lifestyle, it’s important that you not beat yourself up or fall prey to harmful messaging suggesting that your body is not good enough or unworthy of love and care.
Prepare to return to work.
If you’ve been dreading a return to work, whether due to anxiety about the pandemic or being around difficult coworkers, it’s wise to come up with solutions to help you manage this transition. Depending on your job, you may be able to work out something with your supervisor where you can continue to work from home, or limit your in-office visits. As for conflict with coworkers, you obviously can’t change them, but you can adjust your approach in your encounters. Try to use cooperative communication, and avoid discussing hot-button topics. Consider also thinking about the other person’s strengths, or what you like about them. This can help soften your approach, and can even give you a new perspective.
Find something to smile about.
Few people enjoy being told to smile more, especially when they are going through a difficult time. Nonetheless, research indicates that laughing and smiling can be beneficial for your overall mental and physical health. So while you may want to avoid people who demand that you smile on cue, consider seeking out experiences that will give you a good reason to smile. This could be as simple as watching funny animal videos. It could be getting out in nature or meeting a good friend.
Lean on your support networks.
One unfortunate effect of anxiety and depression can be that they make it even harder to seek help when you most need it. If the pandemic has added to any existing mental wellness challenges, it’s especially important for you to seek support from friends and family. It can also be helpful to reach out to loved ones and check in on how they are doing. As restrictions are loosened, try to get together with those you trust and with whom you feel safe.
By prioritizing wellness, getting your finances under control, and finding support from friends and family, you’ll be prepared to re-enter and re-engage with work and society.
Marjorie McMillian has been studying, practicing, and sharing the concept of whole health and wellness since “before it was cool.” She could not be happier with the strides the health and wellness community has made, including the increased popularity and broadening definition of self-care, the de-emphasis on weight loss and its relationship to overall physical health, and the long-awaited welcoming of spirituality in the world of wellness. While she doesn’t share medical advice on her website, comeongetwell.net, visitors will find reliable resources intended to help guide them on their journey to whole health.
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