COVID-19 changed everything for us. We used to have plans for  travel, outings, vacation, business trips, etc. But now everything suddenly changed. We can no longer do the things we used to do - going to the park to walk our dogs, hustling with the commute, going to the malls and other social activities. This nightmarish outbreak has affected and continues to affect the lives of all of us.

Recently, I volunteered as a Researcher/Writer for Mental Health PH regarding their series 'Protecting our Mental Health vs. Covid-19'. According to one of our psychiatrists, 'Uncertainty is the root of anxiety.' When we can't control the situation, we fear the unknown, and that's where anxiety sets in.

Here are some of my takeaways on how to deal with anxiety during this pandemic.

1. Meditate / Pray

Have a mantra everyday. It can be a bible verse, or song lyrics that can help you survive another day. Having a sound and clear mind affects your day. Start your day with words such as 'I'm loved. I'm going to be okay. This too shall pass.'

2. Have a support system

'You're not going through it alone. We'll get through this together'

These are words I often share with my loved ones. We humans are social beings. We can practice social distancing but still be connected with our loved ones. If you're feeling anxious, uncertain, try to reach out to your family, friends, or special someone. Let them know what you feel so they will know how to comfort you genuinely at times like these. Your thoughts matter. It's a therapeutic feeling to be heard. Know that you are loved and accepted.

3. It's okay not to be okay during this pandemic.

We can't always be okay most of the time. Right now, we share the same grief, same anxiety, regarding this pandemic globally. We've learned new terms such as 'Social distancing', 'Collective experience ', 'New Normal' and the likes. To be anxious at times like these is normal. It's okay to feel that way.  Remember these are tough times and we're gonna get through this together.

4. Have a good distraction

Look for activities that will distract you from your worries. Reading a book, trying a new hobby, playing board games, playing with your pets, cooking, making a new recipe, listening to music, creating a playlist, and colouring, may do the trick. Do everything you need to do to cope. A busy mind will keep your bothered thoughts away.

5. Your worth isn't defined by your productivity. You are still worthy.

Most of us have read articles that we can use this time to be productive, or crafty. It's good if you can be, but if not, you're still worthy; regardless of what you do and what you don't. This is a tough time, and if the only thing you did today is being alive, then I'm proud of you. Don't be too hard on yourself if you are not productive. A friend once told me that, sometimes, just living through another day already takes a lot more effort than doing activities others see as productive.

6. Practice social media detox.

Social media can reconnect us with our loved ones. Sharing memes, watching the news and being updated with the latest trends. But social media can also be toxic for us. Try to limit your social media usage to at most 3-4 hours a day. Use it from time to time but do not abuse it. If you want to be bold, consider unfollowing pages or sites that are not good for your mental health.

7. Find a routine

Another issue right now is losing one’s routine and losing control of what happens next. Planning your schedule for the day will help you to be busy and distracted. Set a time to wake up, do your mantra. Keep busy and do things that make you happy.

8. Be kind to your body.

Our mental health is not independent from our physical health. That’s why it’s so important to have a good sleeping routine. Drink at least 8 glasses of water per day and stay hydrated. Go for a walk even if just inside your house. Exercise your mind and your body. Your mental health is as important as your physical health.

9. Seek professional help

When things go really out of hand, seek professional help. If  things seem to be really tough or you have the feeling that you can’t cope with it anymore, know that help is always available. You are not alone in this battle. If you happen to know any local mental health facilities that will help you, don't hesitate to reach out. I saw a banner before at school that says 'Tomorrow needs you.' I felt that and I think that's wonderful.

10. Breathe.

Lastly, know that you are alive today. In the Pocketcoach app you can find a breathing exercise that only takes 20 seconds. Inhale. Exhale. Breathe so you can still continue.