Managing Stress During COVID-19
The last couple of months have felt like a roller coaster as we all try to adapt to the rapidly-changing environment surrounding COVID-19. The stress of dealing with a new reality that disrupts your employment and daily routine can feel overwhelming.
While many aspects of life may feel out your control right now, there are steps you can take to help manage stress and improve well-being, even while social distancing.
Get Physically Active
Regular exercise can be an important factor in helping cope with stress. Consider how you can still be active right now, and create a daily exercise routine to boost endorphins and reduce tension and anxiety.
Depending on where you live—as well as on the current laws and recommendations in your area—you may be able to get outside to exercise. If it’s safe, going for a walk, hiking through the woods, or running on some trails can do wonders for your mood.
If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your home, you can find plenty of at-home workout programs that can help you stay active. There are also many free apps, videos, and fitness communities to keep you moving even with little or no equipment.
Focus on Your Diet and Sleep
Maintaining a healthy diet is important at any time, but is it especially helpful during the current environment. Fueling your body properly can make a big difference with managing stressors. In addition, it may be a good idea to limit stimulants like caffeine, alcohol and nicotine which can increase anxiety and amplify stress. These can even affect your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
Speaking of sleep, try sticking to a regular schedule. While it might be tempting to throw normal routines out the window right now – doing the opposite and making an effort to stay on track can go a long way with your ability to deal with stress. Log eight hours of sleep whenever possible.
Maintain Social Connections
Even though you can’t physically be together, staying connected to friends, family and community can be more important than ever right now. Positive social support can improve our capacity to weather this stressful time. Here are a few ideas for reaching out and stay connected:
- Use social media to chat with relatives and friends
- Post supportive comments, pictures, and content on your social sites
- Schedule regular video chats with friends, family members, and co-workers
- Send mail to your loved ones. A card, handwritten letter, or small note can do a lot to lift other people’s spirits
Reach for Healthy Ways to Cope
Writing in a journal, meditating, and yoga are just a few examples of healthy ways to relieve stress. Make sure you have plenty of healthy coping skills at your disposal, so you have options to reach for when your distress starts to increase.
If you do not meditate regularly, now may be a great time to try this mind-body practice. It can help you focus on your breath, find clarity, and enhance emotional positivity – allowing you to relax and remain in the present moment. And, the stress-relieving benefits of meditation can come from practicing only a few minutes a day! If you are new to this practice, guided meditations are a good place to start. You can find highly-rated apps for beginners and different types of meditation online.
Yoga is another helpful stress reliever that you can do at home at any time. It helps promote relaxation and well-being by utilizing breath and movement to ease tension in the body. If you’re new to yoga, it’s best to begin practicing with a certified instructor. It also helps to start with simple, gentle poses. There are an array of yoga apps and streaming sites available online.
Be Selective About Media Consumption
While it’s important to stay informed, consuming constant content about the coronavirus can keep you in a heightened state of distress. Here are some healthy ways to stay informed while also managing your media consumption:
Don’t keep the TV on news channels. Commit to only tuning in to a few news programs per day, and set a time limit (such as 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening)
Follow people who inspire you on social media. Follow individuals who are more invested in helping and inspiring, rather than making catastrophic predictions.
Be selective with the content you consume. Read articles and watch programs that focus on what you can do to stay healthy and positive.
Be Kind To Yourself
You might find that are caring for so many people right now that you’ve forgotten to care for yourself. Or, you may be on your own and feeling overwhelmed. Remember that you’re dealing with a lot during this challenging time and find ways to be kind to yourself. Take a warm bath. Read that book you have been meaning to get to, or learn a new skill. All of these things can help you unwind and better manage stress.
If You Need Extra Support
Taking some of these proactive steps may help you feel a lot better. If you don’t feel like your strategies are working though, reaching out to a professional may be a good idea. Talking to someone and getting the support you need, could be the key to helping manage your stress and anxiety during this uncertain time.