The following basic principle applies: every person is different - so try out different strategies and choose those that suit you best. And remember - extraordinary times lead to new causes of stress and emotional reactions that might be new to you. It takes time to get used to these new circumstances and challenges.
1. Remember that restricting yourself benefits and protects the community
Going in quarantine or keeping a distance from others help everyone. The measures are therefore sensible and serve to protect all. The idea that you are doing something for the community gives our actions meaning and it helps to reduce fear. Being generous to others and behaving in a socially responsible manner help us accept and cope with restrictions and stress.
2. Maintain a daily routine!
Think about a reasonable time to get up and do not sleep more than 8 – 9 hours per night. As nice as it might be to chill out in your pyjamas for a day on the weekend, it is just as helpful to wash and dress in the morning on weekdays to feel active and energetic. In the same way, sticking to fixed meal, studying and sleeping times can give you a stabilising structure. And if you did not use to have a daily routine, why not try it out now ;-)?
3. Plan your day!
Having a good plan for each day prevents feelings of helplessness and loss of control. Instead of just passively letting the day pass by, actively shape your day. Set clear deadlines for things you have to do (cleaning, washing up, doing the laundry, preparing meals) and things you want to do (reading, watching TV series, talking to friends on the phone, doing sports, doing yoga...). What counts as have-to-dos and want-to-dos can vary a lot from one person to the other. Maybe you can plan the next day the evening before, so you know what to expect the next day and can start it with more motivation. But do not over-plan. Always leave some room to just lean back and enjoy having a bit of free time.
4. Keep your media consumption under control!
Don't spend all day on your mobile, PC or game console. Enjoying a movie or game is a good idea, but don't overdo it. Use the time to discover other things you are able to do and try out some new skills.
5. Look for meaningful projects!
What have you always wanted to do and have you been postponing until now due to a lack of time? The spectrum is wide: from spring-cleaning to handicrafts, puzzles, urban gardening, writing a diary, learning languages... Divide your project into doable portions and set yourself realistic goals that you can work on each day.
Movement is your body's own medicine against brooding and negative moods. By moving, you show your brain with every fibre: There's more to me!
In this regard, it doesn't have to be a high-performance sport. A walk in the fresh air or a workout at home will do the trick. You can get suggestions for training sessions – also for ones without equipment – on the Internet (now it’s ok to surf the web ;-)). Start small: exercising daily for 5 – 10 minutes is much better than exercising once for two strenuous hours and then never again.
7. Stay in contact!
Keep staying in touch. Arrange regular phone or video calls with friends and re-connect with "old" friends. If you get tired of talking, surprise your friends with a postcard, a letter or a long email. Talk and write about upbeat matters. Avoid moaning. Alternatively, just write to yourself and for your own sake – morning pages, in your diary, a blog...
8. Do not become a COVID-19 “expert”!
Inform yourself regularly (once a day is enough) about the current situation, but do not exaggerate. Focus on a few information channels and don't jump from one horrible story to the next - be careful that the crisis doesn't become the sole focus of your attention.
9. Strengthen your resilience!
Turn this crisis into a chance and start to strengthen your "psychological immune system", because small or bigger crises are a part of life. However, good mental resilience enables you to overcome them and to emerge from them stronger.
Spend 5 – 20 minutes every day learning a relaxation method or doing a mindfulness exercise, for example. This way you will do something for your inner strength in the long term. There are different mindfulness apps with which you can practice. You can learn and train resilience.
10. Reflect on your strengths!
If you should get into a gloomy mood, think about what you like about yourself, what you are good at, which positive qualities you have, which positive experiences you have had in your life so far and what you have already mastered. And don't give up right away if not many positive points come to mind. This is normal if you are in a negative mood. Ask your friends or your parents what they like about you. Those who like you will certainly come up with a lot of praise and compliments.
11. Seek help
If your thoughts go around in circles, you are worried about your studies or you feel alone, seek professional help. Contact the psychosocial counselling service (psb), for example. We are still there for you – even if not in person, due to the contact restrictions. However, you can reach us by phone or email.
Do you have any questions? Please contact Debbie Coetzee-Lachmann, our international officer.