As Japan marks the one-year anniversary of the first COVID-19 case being confirmed in the country, many of us are starting to feel a tiny bit irritated.

Common refrains on social media include such complaints as “I’m struggling to breathe through this mask” and “I can’t even shake off the winter blues.”

Interestingly, Aera.dot has been encouraging readers to breathe deeply through the nose as early as last June.

“There are a lot of benefits from breathing through one’s nose,” one such article says, adding that a person’s nasal hair actually helps protect them from pollutants and pathogens.

The article concludes by advising readers to be conscious of breathing through their noses, as many people tend to breathe through their mouths when wearing a mask.

Don’t let this become a habit, warns one doctor.

You may want to remember this as the nation muddles through a pretty gloomy winter. According to online magazine Aria.nikkei, a number of Japanese are ill-equipped to deal with a pandemic in winter. Stress and fatigue induced by COVID-19 are adding to traditional anxieties during the colder months of the year — no wonder some people feel as if they’re on the verge of a breakdown.

Thankfully, social media is full of advice on coping with tough times. Dr. Yutaka Morita, a medical professional renowned for authoring books that tie health and longevity to lasting relationships, shared some tips on Women’s Health. “It’s important to boost the spirits first thing in the morning,” he said, and suggested making coffee and frying bacon, as the aroma alerts the senses and produces feelings of happiness.

“It’s also helpful to bring the color blue into your life,” Morita says. “Blue calms you down and can reduce irritability. You may want to buy blue bed linen in order to get a good night’s rest.”

On Twitter, there’s plenty of advice on combating “COVID-19 fatigue.” User @earth_no_mat tells followers to “get that serotonin pumping!

“Serotonin is a happiness hormone and its depletion can cause you to lose control of your emotions and destabilize your spirits,” @earth_no_mat says. “Go out in the sun, get in touch with nature and get some exercise. When I was really down, cycling saved me.”

For those who have trouble sleeping or relaxing, Twitter user @Miimi says: “Take a day just for yourself and sleep. You’ll be surprised at how much you can sleep. It’s most likely because you’re tired and need to rest.”

And there’s no shortage of people offering distractions on social media, including any number of cute animal photos or stunning landscapes.

Enoshima Island Spa in Kanagawa Prefecture recently posted photos of a sunset with Mount Fuji in the background.

“If this cheers people up even a little bit, we’re glad,” @enospa wrote in a tweet accompanying the post.

Experts say that one way to keep the blues at bay is to show a little love to someone. On Aria.nikkei, Yoshiharu Kim at the National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry says that women, in particular, are accustomed to alleviating their stress through friendship or an act of kindness.

“Remote work deprives women of the chance for in-person interactions,” Kim says. “This can lead to symptoms of stress and anxiety.”

Kim says that now is a good time to know the mechanics of what causes negative feelings as well as knowing how to combat them. For that, he says, self awareness and emotional management is crucial. Also, it may be a good idea to cut back on your coffee intake, as consuming too much caffeine during remote work can bring on the jitters.

For the most part, the advice focuses on management and control.

Human Frontier says that while the pandemic is largely out of our (disinfected) hands, we can still manage our personal emotions.

“Keep anxiety on a leash,” the site says. “Even if you start to worry and get stressed out, you can bounce back from the bad stuff. Focus on the here and now, and don’t think too much about the future.”

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