If you are one of the 40 million Californians who are confined to your home under the Covid-19 lockdown order, you understandably are feeling the combined effects of emotional stress and mental anxiety. According to Governor Gavin Newsom, California lacks the full healthcare resources that may be required to care for infected individuals at the peak of the pandemic. The purpose of the stay-at-home order is to minimize the burden on our state’s healthcare system so that those who need medical attention can receive it. While the lockdown is clearly in our best interests, the Covid-19 stress Los Angeles residents feel is a serious by-product.
The Many Sources of Covid-19 Stress and Anxiety
The mental anxiety and stress that we all are feeling could have many sources. Depending on your unique situation, your current life may be impacted by:
- Financial stress
- Job security or unemployment
- Shared work and living spaces with family members or roommates
- Concerns for personal health and the health of loved ones
- Feeling disconnected from the outside world
- Being cooped up indoors with no clear end in sight
Regardless of how these and other stressors are affecting your life today, you need to find healthy outlets for managing Covid-19 stress Los Angeles.
Your stress level can decrease dramatically when your basic needs are met. With this in mind, consider stocking up on essentials with the goal of keeping your pantry, medicine cabinet and fridge stocked for approximately two weeks at a time. You can reduce mental anxiety related to getting infected by ordering food deliveries to your front door with one of the many delivery services in Los Angeles. In addition to having the confidence that your basic needs will be met for the next few weeks, this important step also minimizes the number of times that you may potentially be exposed in public settings.
Meditate and Be Mindful
There are clearly many things for all of us to worry about this time, and dwelling on the what-ifs and the current world events can add more to your plate. Through meditation and mindfulness, you can steady your mind and reduce stress. Sit comfortably in a quiet room. Close your eyes, and allow your muscles to relax. Focus on the sensation of the air passing through your nose or mouth as you take slow, deep breaths. You can repeat this several times per day for five or 10 minutes to feel more grounded.
Get Plenty of Fresh Air
The situation in Los Angeles and beyond is changing dramatically and rapidly, so many of us are glued to our smartphones and TVs. While it is important to be informed, you also need to give your mind a break from constant worry. Have a scheduled time each day when you allow yourself to catch up on current events. Regardless of whether you spend your days working from home, caring for children or focusing on other tasks, take frequent breaks where you disconnect and unplug. Use these opportunities to relax on a patio chair in the backyard or to take a short walk around the block. Fresh air and sunshine can do wonders for your mood and mental health.
Take a Scenic Hike
State and local parks in Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley area and beyond are closed for the duration of this situation. However, some hiking trails may still be open. Some of the sites in Conejo Valley and beyond that you can check out are the trails at Triunfo Creek Park, the Los Robles Trail, the Sycamore Creek Falls trail system, Mishe Mokwa Trail and others. Because new closures are announced frequently, call ahead before you leave your home for these or other destinations. When you are in public areas, maintain an adequate social distance from others. In addition, avoid touching objects like rails, bathroom door knobs and other features.
Go on a Sunday Drive
Driving on The 101 Freeway is a relaxing and safe way to get out of the house during a lockdown. Whether you live in Los Angeles or elsewhere in the San Fernando Valley and beyond, you can get out of the confines of your home for a few hours to break up the monotony of your days and to treat yourself to a change of scenery. While driving on The 101 Freeway, listen to your favorite radio station or playlist. Plan to spend the entire time in your car for safety. Remember that many public beaches and other areas are currently closed.
Take Your Kids to the Park
Many parks in the San Fernando Valley area are closed for the time being, but this does not mean that you have to remain cooped up indoors with your kids. You should not allow your kids to play on playground equipment at this time, but kicking a soccer ball around on an open field and tossing a Frisbee between immediate family members are great ways to let off some steam. Some of the facilities in Conejo Valley are currently open, such as those at Thousand Oaks Community Park, Conejo Community Park, Dos Vientos Community Park and others.
Laugh and Play with Family Members
You cannot physically interact with co-workers, friends and neighbors at this time, but that does not mean that all human interaction must stop. Bring your family together to laugh and play every day. This may be to watch a comedy movie, to play charades or to enjoy time together in other lighthearted ways.
Host a Virtual Happy Hour with Friends
Thanks to modern technology, you can still connect with friends throughout the area and far beyond. One idea is to host a virtual happy hour once or twice per week. Using a video chat feature, you and your favorite people can gather online for a short while to catch up in a virtual group environment. There are many alternatives to this, such as a virtual birthday party and a virtual family reunion.
Explore New Interests
Even when you incorporate some or all of these ideas into your time in isolation over the next few weeks, you undoubtedly will still have more free time than you know what to do with. Are there activities or interests that you have been wanting to get involved in? This may be something as simple as reading a few books. It could be gardening, improving your cooking skills, trying yoga or even writing a book.
The emotional stress that we are all feeling while under a shelter-in-place order in Los Angeles, Conejo Valley and beyond is real. For the sake of your own well-being, you must find a way to relieve stress and anxiety. With many regular stress relief outlets unavailable, you can incorporate some of these ideas into your plans for the next few weeks or longer to improve mental health.
Take the first step…
If you would like to discuss your current stress level or are ready to address a long-term solution for dealing with stress and anxiety that may be negatively impacting your life, I would like to help. Please contact me via phone or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT