The Coronavirus pandemic is affecting us all in one way or another, whether drastically or subtly. Stress is incredibly common as we try to navigate through something we have never seen in our lifetimes. Here are some tips on how to manage your stress during these uncertain times.
Keep a Routine
Humans generally aren’t fond of change, and there’s plenty of that going on right now. Routines are necessary because they create a sense of control and normalcy in our lives. Without a routine, humans tend to focus on the big things, such as bad news, while having a routine allows us to better manage challenges that come our way. Even though your usual routine has likely changed, try to create and stick to a new routine. Having a routine can also help you feel more stable, productive, and positive.
Talk to Friends and Family
Just because we have to practice social distancing doesn’t mean we can’t still chat with friends and family! Technology has brought us lots of options for keeping in touch with loved ones through video chat, online games, texts, social media posts, and more. You can even make it fun by using smartphone apps like Houseparty to play digital games while video chatting. If you’re missing viewing parties, technology also makes it possible to watch favorite shows “together” by streaming at the same time while on a video call. Use video chat platforms like FaceTime on Apple Devices, Facebook Portal, or Amazon Chime to video chat with older relatives who you can’t visit in person. Social interaction is very important to us as humans, so staying in touch with friends and family can help relieve stress during uncertain times.
Time where you’re forced to stay at home might seem like a great opportunity to just lay around and binge watch shows on your favorite streaming platform, but many studies show that an idle mind leads to more worries. Try to keep yourself busy. Complete home projects that you have been putting off because you didn’t have enough time, exercise, spend time outside, learn new recipes, organize your closets, find new books to read, deep clean your house, play board games with your family or anything else you can dream up to keep you and your mind moving.
Take Up a New Hobby
Another way to stay busy is to learn a new hobby. A few lower-cost options are candle making, calligraphy or hand lettering, knitting or crocheting, journaling or blogging, HTML coding (you can find free classes online), painting, gardening, hiking, photography (smartphone cameras are awesome in 2020!), or whatever else interests you. Some of these hobbies, particularly the crafting ones, can even be turned into a side hustle if you end up loving them. What better time to learn a new skill?
Take a Break from the News
It is super important to stay informed, but it can also be very helpful to take a break from watching the news and browsing social media. It is good to know as much as necessary about what is going on in the world, but too much information can be overwhelming. Spend a while each day without getting on social media or turning on the news to let your mind unwind.
Breathe deeply! Stress can cause people to take short, rapid breaths, which stress out our body even more by exacerbating a fight or flight response. Focusing on deep breathing for at least 15 minutes a day can slow down our bodies’ stress response and do wonders for mood.
As mentioned above, home workouts are a great way to stay busy, but they also have other positive effects on the human mind and body. As you may already know, exercise provides feel-good neurotransmitters endorphins that effectively reduce stress. Even a 15-minute walk could do wonders for your mood.
If you don’t live somewhere that you feel safe walking and are able to practice social distancing, in-home workouts can be quite effective, as well. Check out fitness influencers on Instagram for at-home workouts for any level. YouTube also has a number of free workouts, such as PopSugar. A variety of popular fitness platforms are offering free trials to their home workout programs – for instance, you can try Peloton’s workouts for free for 30 days (minus the Peloton equipment) or try virtual Yoga classes for free with an Amazon Prime account.
Like many of us, you might be tempted to do a lot of unhealthy eating because you’re stressed, bored, or simply lacking motivation for healthy eating. Eating healthy foods is important all the time, but especially now when keeping a strong immune system is more vital than ever. Some studies also show that healthy eating is as important for your body as it is for your mental health. There are many vitamins and minerals in healthy foods that help your body and brain function properly. Even without considering body and brain chemistry, eating well can help you lose unwanted weight, which in turn helps you look and feel better.
Get Plenty of Sleep
This one might seem easier said than done, but getting a good night’s sleep is very important to managing stress. Stress can disrupt sleep, which can turn into a vicious cycle of not sleeping because of stress and being stressed due to lack of sleep. You can help promote sleep by enforcing basic bedroom hygiene, including keeping your room cool and dark, keeping a consistent bed time, and staying off electronics a few hours before bed. You can also try natural supplements like melatonin or listening to nature sounds on noise machines or free sleep apps.
If you live in an area where it is safe to go outside while still practicing social distancing, do it! Studies show that finding a connection with nature can show a measurable reduction in stress hormones and restore your sense of well-being. These effects are even better if you are able to get some exercise while you are outdoors.
Self-care is important, especially during stressful times. Be sure to take some time for yourself each day and relax. Self-care takes a different form for each person, but these can include exercise, enjoying a favorite hobby, reading, taking a walk, cooking, gardening, taking a bath, lighting a scented candle, skin care, and more. Try to pick one or more of these things and do them at the same thing each day.
Overall, try to make the best of everything until this pandemic comes to an end. This too shall pass!