As time passes by and social distancing seems to be with us for a while, many are experiencing elevated stress levels. Uncertainty about how long we will have to remain distanced, missing our loved ones, watching the news reports about the number of cases and deaths, seeing people ignoring warnings, trying to find the groceries we need and so many other issues are driving us to unhealthy responses and reactions. So what are we to do?
There are many ways to manage our stress and do good things instead. Here are just a few.
Stay in the present - keeping your mental focus on the present moment and not anticipating the “what ifs”. We can too easily jump to conclusions that rattle us and cause our anxiety levels to rise increasing our stress. When you recognize you are thinking about “what ifs”, this is the time to catch yourself and think of things you know for sure.
Reframe - stress can easily rise when our perspectives are focused on negativity. There are ways to turn those negatives into positives. For example, if you are questioning “why is this happening?”, you could ask, instead, “what can I learn from this?” or “how can I grow in this?”.
Turn off the news - Unfortunately, the media thrives on feeding us negative stories that instill fear, worry, anxiety and concern. Spend your time doing something more productive… clean out a closet or the garage, read a good book, or take a free online class.
Stay healthy - paying attention to your general health is key right now. Get good sleep. Exercise. You can go for a walk, run or bike ride. There are lots of online exercise classes. Eat healthy - leafy greens, lean meats, whole grains. I recently read an article on Amen Clinics by Zoe Davis, MA, LMHC, MS, CNC that posed a great thought for those suffering from Emotional Eating. In summary, apply the H.A.L.T. method by asking yourself am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired?” If you’re hungry, eat healthily. If you’re feeling negative emotions, do something to attend to those emotions, such as journaling or diaphragmatic breathing. If you’re experiencing loneliness, reach out to a friend or family member. If you’re tired, take a rest, drink some water, or get some fresh air. Creating awareness of your true need will increase the likelihood you can address the need instead of feeding it.
Talk with someone - we are created for community. Right now, having in-person community has been greatly compromised but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. There are many video chat tools (FaceTime, Skype, Zoom) that you can use to see and talk with your loved ones. You can use the telephone to have conversations.
If you are still struggling, you may want to consider joining the "De-Stress in a Stressed Out World™" Online Group or consider contacting me to begin individual coaching sessions. You can have success and alleviate your stress. Reach out today.