It hardly needs to be said anymore, although sometimes it’s all any of us can think about; 2020 has been a stressful year. There is a definite feeling of uncertainty that COVID 19 has brought as many aspects of everyday life seem to be put indefinitely on hold. Coping with stress due to COVID 19 is real!
Uncertainty is not something that humans deal with easily, and it leads to stressful situations. Stress may seem like an abstract concept, but it can have real effects on our bodies and minds. Stress is regulated by the hypothalamus, which is a region of the brain. The hypothalamus sends signals to the adrenal glands to release stress hormones such as cortisol. These hormones can be beneficial in aiding our bodies and minds in an emergency, so not all stress is bad.
However, long term stress can cause a multitude of health problems mentally as well as physically. Depression, anxiety, insomnia, and headaches are just a few of the conditions caused by chronic stress. Acknowledging the stress may not change the uncertainty of the times, but it can aid in finding better ways to cope and reduce stress factors.
Coping with Stress: Limit News Exposure
In a world where so much information is just a click away, it is easy and even habitual to stay informed, especially in a world where COVID 19 brings about new changes every day. However, the news can often be filled with difficult information that can weigh heavy on the mind and compound the stress we’re already feeling. Being inundated with the news on multiple platforms all day long can be unhealthy. Usually, a quick read through the top headlines or watching the local news station for a short time is often enough to get the relevant information needed to stay informed. Ideas for limiting news exposure:
- The beginning and the end of the day are often critical times that set the tone for long periods. Exposure at these times may lead to feeling disrupted for the rest of the day or night. Choose less critical times to tune into the news.
- Think of an activity or hobby that brings peace to the mind and practice it after watching the news.
- Set a limited amount of time for news check-ins.
Focus on Positivity
Coping with stress by feeding the body healthy foods is obvious but what might be less obvious is feeding the mind with healthy thoughts and information. COVID 19 can be the source of many negative thoughts. It is essential to counterbalance that negativity. Positive thinking is a powerful tool that can often have an enormous impact on our perspective. Here’s how to bring more positivity into your thoughts:
- Take a break from the crime and mystery genre and try some feel-good dramas, comedy, or even children’s movies.
- Think of at least two things to be grateful for throughout the day.
- Get outside for a new change of scenery and mindset.
It’s no secret that humans are creatures of habit. Being stuck at home for a lockdown has certainly thrown a wrench into our old routines. So, it is essential to find a way to implement new routines into day to day life to add a sense of peace and expectancy. Here are some ideas on adding a new routine or keeping an old one.
- Go to bed and wake at the same time on the weekdays.
- Continue to shower, dress, and get ready for the day, even if it is only to stay home.
- Incorporate family time and mealtime into the daily routines.
Keep Your Body Moving
If it was hard to stay away from the couch potato mentality before COVID 19, it sometimes feels a little impossible now. However, keeping your body in motion is one of the most important things to do. Strenuous exercise is not needed either. Even the simplest things, such as stretching, can have massive benefits for the body and mood and keep the blood flowing. Here are some easy ways to stay in motion:
- Deep breathing exercises not only manage and relieve anxiety but can even tone core muscles.
- Choose an online class for anything from Tai Chi to square dancing. You might be surprised by how fun it is.
- Get outside and walk. The power of fresh air and sunshine for the body and the mind is often underestimated, and studies have shown that even a 30-minute walk is greatly beneficial for the body.
In a world where social distancing has become a critical component of society under current circumstances, it is easy to feel isolated. But the good news is that technology offers many innovative ways to stay connected with loved ones while following social distancing regulations. It is more important than ever to pick up the phone and call or facetime someone you trust to discuss your concerns and hopes. Having a support system is critical in such trying times. Reaching out to those in need can also be a huge stress reliever and help take your mind off of your troubles. Ideas for staying connected:
- Create an interactive online discussion like a book club.
- Invite friends to a virtual Netflix party through Google Chrome, where members can interact and comment on the film.
- Call a neighbor, friend, or family member who lives alone and check in on them and ask if they need anything.
Don’t let stress and anxiety dictate your life. Acknowledge your feelings and know it’s alright to feel stress but then find ways to stay positive and take each day at a time. Sometimes it can be as simple as being mindful of your emotions and choosing to remain positive even in difficult circumstances.
Coping with stress can be reduced by putting anxiety about the uncertain and uncontrollable to the back of your mind while focusing on tangible real life things such as family, learning new hobbies, or simple everyday tasks like taking the dog for a walk.
And finally, remember the contributions you put in at work and home matter, and you are not alone; we are all in this together.