Sharing the Journey: Staying Occupied and Reducing Stress During the Coronavirus Pandemic
The Sharing the Journey series is by you and for you. In your own words, we highlight the perspectives and personal experiences of people who struggle with lupus each day.
This month, we asked Sharing the Journey participants the following question:
In recent weeks, the spread of the coronavirus has forced us to face very uncertain times, which can lead to many difficult emotions. How have you kept yourself occupied and managed anxiety, stress, and other emotions during this time?
I have been working from home, but when my work is complete for the day, I’ve had a ton of time to start a mini garden, read, scrapbook, binge series, and clean. The anxiety is very real during this time – I would love to stroll down the aisles of a bookstore or HomeGoods. I would love to know my hydroxychloroquine prescription will not be affected. But all I can do is stay busy and recite positive affirmations. I’m sending love and am with all of you in spirit. – Kayla
Since this pandemic has started, I have been stuck at home with my family for the past month. This has caused stress because I’m not working and I’m not used to just being stuck in one place for so long. I also have naturally high anxiety, and the coronavirus pandemic is not helping at all with that. The way that I cope with this is I started doing yoga, painting, homework, sleeping, watching TV, and playing video games. I also get support from friends, family, and my boyfriend. We all spend time together virtually which helps a lot. – Kyra
Working from home is new for me. But I'm grateful for my home office, which got minimal use before COVID-19 and is now used daily. My husband and I have been trying to take daily walks and spend more quality time together. I also have been getting back to scrapbooking, which was a hobby I previously enjoyed – I’m currently making my mother's day presents while in quarantine. Being at home doesn't bother me. What scares me is what happens when I have to leave the house and go back to working from my work office rather than my home office. If I really think about that, it just increases my anxiety. I've had to turn off the news and try to watch it as little as possible, as it fuels my anxiety – I feel like if something major happens that I need to know about, I will hear about it one way or the other. I've just been trying to take it one day at a time. So far, I haven't gone stir crazy. – Leslie
This is a very hard time for everyone right now. I am trying to focus on the positive every day. My good friend and I exchange messages every night with things that we are grateful for that day. This helps to focus on the positive and not the negative. I am enjoying the extra time with my kids and not being so busy. We have been doing a lot of things that we normally wouldn’t have time to do. I am exercising and doing yoga to help relax and keep my body healthy. Above all, I lean into my faith during the hardest trials and trust that everything will work out for the good. We are all in this together – we have to stay strong and united (and stay home!). – Roxi
During this pandemic, it has been essential to my mental and physical health to keep all stress as low as possible. In order to do this, I have to identify my triggers and then set achievable goals to combat these triggers. I have extreme anxiety about being around others and even more anxiety about the people in my household being around others outside of our household. I can control who comes in my space, but I may not always be able to control who comes in the space of those I live with. I had to sit down and have a real conversation about the virus, how it can affect me, my anxieties, triggers, etc., and together we came up with a feasible plan of action for my household we all agreed upon. I also had to identify the things I like to do to keep me occupied when my health allows. They include cooking, reading, watching movies, playing games, and connecting with friends via phone and social media to chat. It is imperative in times like these to constantly keep the lines of communication open between myself and my family and friends to ensure not only that we are on the same page but also so they can keep a close eye on me to assure that my physical and mental health is as okay as it possibly can be. – Angel
Everyone seems to be dealing with this pandemic differently, as it’s touching everyone's life in a different way. I've done a few of things during quarantine that have been very successful. First, I work out every day – but I don't do the same type of workout every day. There's so many good options to get active for free right now, from online yoga classes to Instagram live dance classes to simply walking outside. Every day, I've made myself a to-do list that includes items, such as "get ready" and "eat breakfast" so I still force myself to get up and be productive. Since I’m out of work, I've found ways to expand my business model and sharpen my skills. As an actor, this looks like finding ways to perform digitally through Zoom or with voiceover gigs. I've also been expanding my performance repertoire by learning new songs and teaching myself a new instrument. Lastly, I've given myself 1 day a week to totally devote to fun. I shut myself in my room, turn off the news, and engross myself in something that makes me happy. Last week, I celebrated Disney Day where I had a Disney sing-along, baked a Disney-themed meal, watched Disneyworld shows on YouTube, and "rode" Disneyworld rides with those point-of-view videos also on YouTube. It was a wonderful mental and emotional break from everything! – Becca
The outbreak of the coronavirus has likely been the cause of a lot of strain, stress, and fear in your life right now. You may feel overwhelmed with concerns about the health and safety of your loved ones, your work status, medication supplies, and other things impacted by the virus. Social distancing, though necessary, can heighten those negative feelings by disconnecting you from parts of your life that are important to you, like friends and family.
That’s why the Lupus Foundation of America has put together a page dedicated to the most up-to-date information and resources on the coronavirus for people living with lupus. On it, you can get information on what to do if you’re showing symptoms of the coronavirus, tips on what to do if you’re struggling to fill your hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine prescription, ways to protect your mental health during social distancing, and more.
Remember that this is a challenging and unprecedented time. It’s okay to have difficulty adjusting – be sure to have patience with yourself as you get used to this new normal.