With every day that passes during this widespread coronavirus pandemic, I see more and more people online talking about how stressed they are and how it’s getting harder to manage the fear + anxiety they are feeling.
When your life seems to take a sudden upheaval and you are feeling complete uncertainty for what the future holds (and when this outbreak will end), it can really start to ramp up your stress levels tenfold! This Covid-19 pandemic is not something that the majority of us saw coming, and never did we think it’d get to the extreme it’s gotten. It’s hard to NOT freak the f*ck out about it! Many of us are also feeling extreme loneliness due to social distancing and self-isolation. We are living in some stressful times! But if there is one thing I do know, being in a state of constant stress is not the best way to get you through this pandemic. So I wanted to share with you some of my favorite tips for managing stress right now, and I hope you find it helpful!
1. Begin your Day with Gratitude.
Taking time first thing in the morning to write what + who you are thankful for can help to start your day on a positive track versus jumping right into the news articles online about the pandemic which will just amplify the gloom + doom. Taking time to remember the good things you have going in your life can vastly improve your mental outlook.
I highly recommend checking out The Happiness Planner who is currently offering a digital Gratitude Journal for free during the pandemic. Go snag a copy + start journaling!
2. Create a routine.
For many of you, your daily schedule just took a complete 180 from what you are used to. Many of you are now newly working from home, not working at all, homeschooling your kids, etc. Not being able to do what you normally do might lead you to feel out of control. Most of us thrive on consistency, so when you have to switch things up drastically, it’s gonna throw you for a loop! Take some time to create a new schedule for yourself – create time blocks, get everything written on the calendar. Having a daily schedule will offer you some peace + a sense of control.
Want to know my secrets on how I create a schedule that I stick to? Head to my blog post HERE!
3. Find ways to connect socially + limit talk about the pandemic
It’s human instinct to crave connection and feeling a part of a tribe! Social distancing has definitely created obstacles for us all when trying to connect with our friends, peers, clients, + loved ones. While most have jumped into heavy rotation on their social media channels, I recommend reaching out directly to connect to your loved ones. Ways to do this are via video chats on Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime. Or give them a ring on the phone. Reach out to a friend or loved one that you haven’t chatted with in a while. And while I know it’s hard to NOT spend the whole conversation chatting about the pandemic, try limiting it to just a small portion of the conversation. Being able to connect with someone in a way that is not related to the outbreak can offer you comfort + peace of mind.
4. Limit news intake + social media
I know, for myself as a single person without kids, I jumped first to social media to find connections during this time of social distancing. It helped a bit, but as the days go on, the more and more I see a lot of negativity from the fear of the unknown. Also, there’s a continual bombardment of news from all the different outlets that were constantly amplifying my anxiety + fear. So I created limitations + you can too. Did you know you can go up to the three dots on a Facebook post + choose to “snooze a person for 30 days”? You can also choose to stop notifications in groups that are stressing you out. I personally was also checking the Coronavirus Worldometer multiple times a day causing myself to freak out about the increasing numbers. But then I had a realization. The fear is already real for me. Do I need to pound it into my head over and over a few times a day? Or right before I go to bed so I can’t fall asleep? Nope! So while it is necessary + pertinent that you stay on top of the news for your own safety, it’s okay to also limit the amount to save your mental wellbeing.
5. Get Outdoors
Just because you need to keep a distance of 6 feet from your neighbor, doesn’t mean you can’t get outside for a breath of fresh air. Drive to a local park + find a quiet bench. Hit up a desolate trail. Jump in a rain puddle in your driveway. Do cartwheels in your backyard. But get outside so you get to see more than just the four walls of your home.
6. Get in some Physical Fitness
If you are lucky enough to have the option, combine tip #5 with this tip and get outside for a run or a walk. Find a wide-open space where you can keep your distance and do some calisthenics. Improving your cardiovascular fitness levels + strength is also a great way to strengthen your immune system and improve your chances against the virus. It’s also an amazing stress reliever!
Since you can’t get to the gym right now, some of my favorite at-home workouts are via the Sweat App and also via the Centr App. Both offer a 7-day free trial. If you jump on Centr before March 31st, you will get a 6-week free trial!
7. Find time for Meditation
Even if it’s just 5 minutes each day of sitting or lying quietly, allowing yourself to be present in your body and in the moment, as well as nourishing your body with deep breaths of oxygen will help to ease some tension. Put on some relaxing music and let your mind go clear as you focus on your breaths. It can be hard at first to stop the constant stream of thoughts, but keep practicing! I find saying the mantra “Breathe in the good stuff, Exhale the bad stuff” to be very helpful with staying focused!
One of my favorite apps for guided + unguided meditation music is the Brain.FM app.
8. Provide yourself with Guidance
Harvard Medical offered the advice of saying as many times as needed a statement such as, “I can manage. I can practice what I know to be helpful, and I know that in managing my feelings and reactions I can seek support from a few close friends. Further, I can seek the support of a mental health professional when needed. By combining these strategies, I will be able to settle my nerves in order to be able to make healthy choices.” This is a great way to help yourself feel motivated and to truly believe in your own potential. Your thoughts + beliefs are somethings you can control when everything else seems out of your control.
9. Engage in activities that promote a sense of accomplishment
It’s a stressful time for many of us with regards to knowing if what we are doing now will pay off in the future since it’s such an uncertain time. So if you can find small activities that provide you with a sense of accomplishment – ie, finally running a mile, completing a puzzle, cooking an amazing dinner for your family, finally cleaning out the closet, etc. – it will give you that extra boost to keep truckin’ onward and upward.
10. Avoid alcohol + drugs
I will be first to admit I have been all about the idea of a virtual happy hour with my friends because we could all use a big glass of wine right now. It’s a sedative so it seems natural that it’d relax you right now. But over time, excessive drinking or drug abuse can actually produce more anxiety and lead to addiction. Alcohol changes levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain, which can worsen anxiety. In fact, you may feel more anxious after the alcohol wears off. So instead, jump on one of the other activities listed in this blog post to help ease the tension instead.
11. Eat a well-balanced diet
Another area that I am first to admit that I struggle with is eating healthy + wanting to munch on all the pandemic snacks instead that are in my cupboards. But I’m working on it! Aim to get in healthy fats, cut down on your sodium, and bump up that fiber intake. Eating healthy on a regular basis will help to enhance your overall health, increase your immunity, + improve your mental well-being.
Here’s a great article on how to make your health + nutrition a priority during this pandemic.
12. Prioritize your sleep
It may seem dang near impossible to get a solid night’s sleep right now with all the pent-up anxiety, but it will help to eliminate so much stress if you can get in at least 7-8 hours every night. Some tips to make it easier to fall asleep are to limit screentime right before bed, practice your meditation right before you hit the hay, and create a sleep routine of when you go to bed and when you wake up each day and stick with it as best you can.
Have any tips or ideas on how to manage stress during difficult times like these?
Drop a comment below so we can share + continue to support each other. Or if you have any questions for me, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Thanks to Apartment Therapy, the CDC, Harvard University, Nutrition.org and US News & World Report for insight that helped me to put together this article.
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