Stress & the Coronavirus

advice anxiety manage stress stress Mar 18, 2020

I don't know about you, but the world feels a little different to me these days.  

It's strange having the whole family home so much.  No rushing out the door to school and work, no hurrying to pick up the kids before Adventure Club closes, no trying to do homework and make dinner and a hundred other things.  

On one hand, some of the overwhelm and stress has been relieved.  On the other hand, there is more stress and anxiety than ever now that we are worried about a contagious virus, economic impacts, and massive schedule and logistical changes.

In this unique situation, we can offer a few pieces of advice to manage your stress.

1.  Gratitude:  While it's easy to focus on what is missing or what is different, there are definitely things we can all be thankful for in this situation as well.  If we focus our minds on gratitude, we will begin to see more things that deserve our thanks.  Can you be grateful for health?  Can you be grateful for a job that allows you to work from home?  Can you be thankful that it's not freezing and snowing outside so the kids can get out?  Can you be thankful that you woke up this morning?  While these examples aren't true for everyone, there is something that is true for you that you can be thankful for.

2.  Schedule:  If your normal routine is in shambles, it's tempting to try to take each day by the seat of your pants.  However, getting a new routine and schedule in place will help you to feel like you have more control of your time and energy.  Remember that no routine is perfect, but trying to put some semblance of schedule into your day will help you accomplish what needs to be done without being overwhelmed at the end of the day.

3.  Connect:  It's perfectly normal to feel disconnected from the rest of your friends and family during this time of social distancing.  In fact, you may be tempted to visit others just to have contact with other adults.  Instead of visiting in person, reach out with a phone call or video chat.  Set a time each day to call someone you haven't spoken to in a while and reconnect, or schedule a virtual happy hour with your girlfriends.  Try taking the first steps to connect with others for their benefit, and yours.

4.  Disconnect: On the opposite end of the spectrum, just because the news is available 24/7 and you can get your fingertips on any bit of information about COVID-19 (Coronavirus), doesn't mean you should.  Stay informed, but don't get too absorbed in trying to consume all of the news content out there.  Managing your information consumption, will help you to manage your anxiety and stress.  Maybe it's best if you leave the media off except for one daily update, or maybe you can turn off notifications for some of the accounts and people that dramatize the issue.  Make intentional choices about what information you consume.

5.  Breathe:  Take some time to be intentional about your mental and physical health.  Any type of activity that stills your mind and allows you to focus on slowing down the chatter in your head will help you to stay in control of your stress and anxiety.   Do yoga, breathing exercises, meditation, or other exercises like the Purawell Stress Reduction audio program.  All of these activities help to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system which will help to reduce your stress.

I know this is a tough time for a lot of people and unfortunately, we don't know how long things will be the way the are today, or how many more changes we will encounter.  But, we do know strategies and techniques to support our mental health and self care.  Using these techniques to keep your stress and anxiety low will help you serve your family and community more effectively.