DEALING WITH STRESS
Getting Through the Corona Craziness
Text by Kathryn Brooks
As we’ve heard over and over again, “We are living in unprecedented and uncertain times.” Although overused, unprecedented and uncertain are spot-on to describe the current climate. With so many more questions than answers, guidelines changing daily, and no end in sight for this “new normal,” stress and anxiety become a common response. The unknowns of this global crisis make the already-difficult situation far more challenging. Here are eight things that you can do to help ground yourself during this groundless time.
Creating predictability in your day-to-day life can be the antidote to uncertainty. Routines provide predictable, stable anchors in your day and week. When you lose your sense of stability, it is important to replace it in some way to counteract the uncertainty. Some examples might include scheduling a specific time for a daily exercise workout, chores, bedtime, meals and the sequence of your morning routine.
REMEMBER, YOU ARE NOT ALONE
This global pandemic is affecting every single person in the world. You are not alone in your experience, rather you are alongside everyone else who is also affected by this experience. Simply remembering that you are not alone, and knowing that many others are also struggling during this time can be comforting.
Taking care of yourself is very important. First, should you be exposed, your immune system will be better equipped to fight off the virus. Additionally, when you feel healthy and strong in your body, your mind is more likely to respond to the repercussions of the pandemic in a healthy way, and be more resilient to the stress of working off-site, having limited contact with family and friends, being homebound, etc. Make sure that you’re getting at least seven hours of sleep, eating a balanced diet, exercising and making time for yourself everyday.
With so much beyond your control, and so many unknowns about what, when, and how we will move forward, life can be particularly difficult. To counteract the lack of control, try to focus on things that are within your control. Make it a point to make simple, conscious decisions every day: things like choosing which online workout class to attend, which path to jog, and what to eat for lunch can help you feel in control. Many have taken up take up hobbies and activities, such as baking, catching up on books they’ve been wanting to read and designing a home office, where they can take the helm.
Understand that it’s going to take time to build your rhythm and tolerance for these new normal circumstances – and it’s difficult. So don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself struggling. Be patient with yourself as you learn, grow, and adjust. It won’t help you at all if you are criticizing yourself throughout the process. Imagine a close friend, struggling with the effects of the pandemic – from the loneliness, schedule, emotions, homeschooling (whatever obstacles you are facing ). What would be your advice to your friend? Then, apply that advice to yourself.
Meditation can improve your capacity to respond to stress, uncertainty, and volatility, all of which are quite prevalent right now. While meditation cannot change the circumstances of the pandemic, a consistent meditation practice will help you react to the circumstances in a healthier way, rather than with anxiety, fear, and dread. Creating a state of mindfulness and allowing your mind to pause before letting it spin out of control is a natural extension of meditation.
SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITY
The brain may interpret uncertainty as stressful, but that doesn’t mean it has to be entirely bad. In fact, there are many ways in which the quarantine may support you and your goals. Considering what those are may help shift your mood in a positive direction. Ask yourself, “How might the pandemic actually be good for me?” More time with family, learn to slow down, time to cook, finally get your home office organized, etc… Take this exercise a step further by asking, “What positive changes might we see in society and the world as a result of this pandemic?”
It’s important to stay connected to family, friends and colleagues … from a safe distance, of course. Even if you live alone and even if you are an introvert, having people whom you trust to talk with, listen to, unwind with, support, and lift one another up is critical. If possible, meet while practicing social distancing. Or schedule virtual brunches, lunches, happy hours, or walk-and-talks over the phone or Zoom can help you keep your relationships strong and supportive during this time.