For many of us, the weeks spent in quarantine and ongoing COVID-fears have been some of the most stressful times to date. As we figure out what the world looks like now and post-pandemic, maintaining self-care practices and managing stress in quarantine are critical to preserving our mental and physical health.
This doesn’t put bingeing Netflix and endless bowls of cereal out of the question, because those can be acceptable coping mechanisms, too. However, if this is what most of your days are looking like, consider implementing some small changes to support your health and well-being. Managing stress is important because not doing so makes us even more scatter-brained and susceptible to extended bouts of lying on the floor.
Stress Affects Your Brain And Your Body
“When someone experiences a stressful event, the amygdala, the area of the brain that contributes to emotional processing, sends a distress signal,” Harvard Health Publications of Harvard Medical School explains. “This area functions like a command center, communicating with the rest of the body so the person has the energy to fight or flee.”
Once stress signals reach the rest of the body, they can leave you feeling fatigued, irritable, or cause you to have trouble sleeping. Stress can also aggravate pre-existing conditions and cause symptoms like heart palpitations and acid reflux, or acne and eczema flare ups.
According to the CDC, quarantine adds additional unique stress factors like loss of autonomy, social connectedness, and the ability to complete daily tasks. While there may be a few people in your life that you aren’t going to miss seeing (coworkers you really shouldn’t have dated, frenemies, actual enemies), the sudden loss of regular social interaction, creates a unique scenario that our brains are now trying to process. Creating healthy habits and routines is crucial to managing this stress, and it can actually be pleasurable.
Pleasure Is A Priority
Did you know orgasms combat stress? Or that they can reduce headaches and support your immune system? Honestly, we can’t think of a better way to give your immune system a boost!
Pleasure is an important aspect of wellness and it shouldn’t be ignored in uncertain times. Joy and pleasure are experiences that can be harmlessly claimed for ourselves that have positive ripple effects on both body and soul. If you’ve been working to reclaim your sexual power or working on intimate breakthroughs with a partner, you can continue that work now by staking a claim on your body and your pleasure in multiple ways.
If you haven’t already, consider introducing sex toys into your sex life and relationship. Toys don’t mean you’re unsatisfied; they indicate you’re willing to explore new experiences, and now is the time! If you’re looking for a toy that creates a blended orgasm for women and femmes, Osé 2 is a great option for both singles and couples.
What To Do When You're Stuck Inside
Outside of romantic pleasure, there are other ways to feel connected and manage stress even when you're stuck indoors. First and foremost, stop thinking of social distancing as anything more than physical distance. Yes, it’s important to stay six feet away from others as often as possible to maintain physical health during outbreaks of disease (or even just flu season). However, physical distancing doesn’t mean you can’t find creative ways to remain social and in contact with loved ones.
Video chat is a great way to feel closer to your friends and family. If grandma doesn’t understand how that works, you can still call her the old school way. If you’re looking for something lighter and a little more entertaining, consider finding an online game to play with friends. Many players have held birthday parties and even weddings in lieu of real-life events that were cancelled.
Other ways to create connections are tried and true, like getting a pen pal. There are plenty of websites that can connect you. Use your letter-writing skills to keep someone in a nursing home company—they’re coping with quarantine, too! Call a local facility and ask to write to someone, and avoid the post office by dropping a letter in your mailbox.
Unfortunately, ramen noodles only get you so far up the food pyramid. Even while stuck inside, it’s important to prioritize nutrition. Many small restaurants are open for takeout, so consider picking up a meal and supporting a local business. Other food subscription services are still delivering ready-to-cook meals, so you don’t have to scrounge in the moldy vegetable drawer for something nutritious. This can help you avoid crowded supermarkets.
Other places to avoid include the gym, but that doesn’t mean you should stop moving! Apartment hallways are great for walking laps, or even roller skating. Dance parties are a great way to keep moving, embarrass or confuse your neighbors, and stake a claim on joy. And many yoga instructors and fitness trainers are taking their classes online by live streaming.
Managing Stress In Quarantine
Lowering stress levels should be a top priority when times are tough. Worry less about whether to wear pants on that Zoom call and continue to care for yourself and your partner or loved ones, even from a distance.
While it can be easy to do, letting self-care slide is a slippery slope and can increase stress factors. But don’t forget to give yourself grace! It’s okay to let yourself feel what arises. Let it out, let it go, and take care of yourself.