How are you doing my friend? I’ll be the first to admit that I am a pretty optimistic person…sometimes to a fault. But I think there are times when I can be quite negative and pessimistic. I’ve learned how to switch gears in my mind when I feel things taking a turn for the worse. Unfortunately however how hard I try, I’m not perfect. Spoiler alert!
The other night it’s like it all hit me like a ton of bricks and I became extremely overwhelmed with all the feelings I’ve been avoiding and stuffing down with too much food. (We’ll talk about that later) I cried and cried and cried. I cried because this is such a frightening time. It’s downright scary!
Today I am sharing five ways to ease stress during this unpredictable time. I’ve already started to take these tips for myself and it’s my hope that you’ll be able to do the same. If you’re sheltering in place or even if you’re still going to work, it’s really easy to feel stress and even a sense of panic. These tips can help alleviate those feelings.
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Limit Your News Intake
It can be hard to walk away, but if you are currently staying home because of the pandemic you really need to be mindful with how much time you are devoting to updates.
While you don’t want to completely unplug try to limit how often you watch the news. Try getting your updates just once a day and since they tend to repeat a lot of information it’s really all you need. Choose just one way to get your news, and leave it at that. Please don’t get your news and information from social media. You need to look at trusted sources only.
When it comes to the news I’ve learned over the years that I’m pretty sensitive to what’s going on and how it affects my thoughts and overall mood. I love The Breakfast Club morning show but about a year ago I realized that listening to a lot of the awful things going on made me really angry.
I’m the first one to tell you I don’t need to have angry thoughts at the world. It just makes me more negative than I care to be. So when I want to listen to an interview from The Breakfast Club I go and listen to that interview only. Although I miss the show, I feel better without knowing all of the heinous and racist things that are out of my control.
Typically I watch the news first thing in the morning before work. I like to get a snapshot of what’s going on along with the weather and traffic. I’ve always been a news junkie since I was a teenager because I used to want to be a journalist and I am really into politics.
When this whole pandemic started I was watching the news constantly. Now I try to tune in to the weekday news at noon so I can get a quick briefing of what’s going on, specifically in my city and state. I don’t have the capacity to handle national and worldwide news at this time. I’m fully aware of my limits.
Take Social Media Breaks
When you are spending a lot of time alone social media can seem like a good way to keep up with your friends and family. While it definitely helps you might notice that absorbing too much of it is hurting your mental health.
If you find that you feel fine before logging on, then are in a bad, irritable, or upset mood after checking Facebook or Twitter, it’s time to limit your time on social media.
Personally I’ve already built in this strategy with Facebook and Twitter specifically due to politics. I learned early on that I was again, angered very easily just from a few moments scrolling through my feeds.
It’s a good idea to have blocks of time where you don’t use social media at all. The length of time will depend on your routine, but try to aim for blocks of 1-2 hours at a time. Then increase this time as needed.
Don’t be afraid to use the mute button. I mute people all the time. Especially if they’re friends or family who I don’t want to necessarily unfollow. If you see that it’s certain people who make you feel some kind of way, then I say mute them.
It’s always a good idea to edit your friends list from time to time just for this very reason. When I first started my Twitter account I followed a lot of health and fitness accounts and political accounts. The health and fitness accounts are fine but some of them I’ve unfollowed but I have weeded out a lot of political ones. Although I love politics, I don’t want to see it every time I open up my Twitter feed.
You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned Instagram…because IG is more of a social feed based on pictures I don’t find that much negativity there. I have my handful of people who I watch their Instastories daily and I enjoy catching up with them every day. Instagram does have the mute option too so again, don’t be afraid to use it.
Focus on Your Mental Health
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post…I’ve been feeling the effects of all of this even more lately. It’s important to note how you are feeling from day to day.
To reduce stress while you are spending a lot of time home alone I think it’s imperative to focus on your mental health. This is what is going to help you ease stress.
There are a lot of ways to destress. If the weather permits, go outside for a walk for fresh air. I’ve been walking to check the mail which isn’t too far, about five minutes, but just getting outside in the fresh air and getting some exercise is amazing for your emotional health.
Some other ideas include reading, praying or meditating, cooking or baking or making crafts. Remember when adult coloring books were all the rage? Well now is a good time to grab one and color away. We ordered some for my daughter and these are best sellers right now on Amazon.
If you have severe anxiety that is leading to panic, then you might need to talk with a mental health professional. There are many therapists who work remotely that you can talk to on the phone or online.
I’ve heard great things about Talk Space if you do need to talk to someone who can help. They even have an anxiety program specifically dealing with the current pandemic which I am sure a lot of people are taking advantage of.
Take Care of Your Physical Health
Why is it that it can take several weeks to lose six pounds but a week to put it back on? I’ve noticed that I’ve been even more sedentary staying at home than I was sitting at my desk job all day. That’s another story for another day.
You can reduce stress by taking care of your body in addition to focusing on your mental health. This includes getting more exercise, eating a nutritious diet, and drinking water.
Eating healthy doesn’t have to mean being on a super strict diet or never having tasty treats. Don’t add more stress right now with dieting or weight loss.
Just try to balance your meals and snacks with something healthy that also includes some indulgent treats. Stock is still very limited in the grocery stores around me, so you have to work with what you can and don’t beat yourself up for getting off track.
Set Up a Routine
Something you will hear about over and over again when it comes to isolation or quarantine, no matter why you have to isolate, is to have a normal routine. When you find yourself spending long periods of time at home, the panic sets in when things are off.
Try to create a routine that becomes a new temporary normal. If you can include some elements similar to what your routine was prior to isolation, that will help tremendously. For example, if when you were working outside the home, you always ate lunch at noon, try to do the same thing now. It will feel more familiar, and can often ease a little panic.
It’s really the small things right? We’re all in different situations, some of us have kids and are now home school teachers. Some of us live alone, or are still working outside the home or working from home.
For the last couple of weeks my son has been getting assignments from his teacher but my daughter who is in high school hasn’t. And I have been on leave. Needless to say there’s been very little routine and structure and I’m certainly feeling the effects from it.
Going to bed really late, waking up late and having no real sense of routine has been kind of crazy for me. I realized that I needed to have at least a to do list to help me and it’s helped a lot just to get a few things done each day.
This week the kids are technically on their Spring Break and next week is when a real remote learning schedule will begin. My job is transitioning to allow me to work from home and that will require another adjustment to our “routine”.
I’m sure I’ll be reporting back about how things are going with all of that in the coming weeks.
When you’re spending a lot of time at home in this way, it can be really easy to get stressed out and anxious. Right now the pandemic around the world is creating more than enough stress on its own, but it gets worse the longer it continues on.
You can’t do anything about what is happening in the world right now other than keep yourself and your family safe. Instead of worrying about what you have no control over focus on what you CAN control.
Hopefully you’ve found these tips as helpful ways to ease your stress during this time. We’re all in this together, going through this, going into the unknown and we have to do the best we can.