April is National Stress Awareness Month and it couldn’t have arrived at a better time, as we are ALL feeling some stress right now! As the COVID-19 global pandemic continues, our daily lives have become consumed with feelings of overwhelmingness, fear and anxiety. Now more than ever, stress awareness is critical, as it reminds us to stay on top of our health and wellness.
We are all trying our best to follow orders to stay at home, socially distance ourselves when we do have to go out in public and practice the most effective sanitizing habits possible. Staying away from the virus, keeping our loved ones healthy and safe, maintaining our jobs (many who are fighting to save lives on the front line), financially providing for our families and keeping our children on track with homeschooling, are among the daily stressors that we are faced with each day. We are living in unprecedented times and while the duration and the outcome is uncertain, we can continue to focus on the positive and grow from our experiences during this time.
Adopting these 7 simple stress management practices will enable us to continue to take the best possible care of ourselves and our loved ones and come out on the other end of this on top with better habits.
1. Give yourself a break.
When you feel overwhelmed, you feel like your internal resources are not adequate to manage incoming demands. You are under unprecedented pressures right now, so stop demanding so much of yourself. Do the best you can, one day at a time. There will be good days and not so good days. Use each day to hit the reset button and go into each new day with a clear head and a fresh start.
2. Daily movement and exercise.
It’s a proven fact that exercise changes your body chemistry to boost your mood, give you energy, and reduce the feeling of stress. If you haven’t already, discover some fun physical activities that work for you and your family and schedule it into your daily routine (at least once a day). There are tons of resources online to assist with at-home fitness routines. If you aren’t sure where to begin, you can check out some ideas here. With the warmer spring temperatures arriving, getting outside for a brisk walk, bike ride or a run will deliver additional benefits…and a much needed environmental change that you may be craving. A good family dance party is also a fun way to get the wiggles out and initiate laughter – an added bonus!
3. Daily mindfulness practice.
Meditation and yoga have proven to help people sleep better and reduce stress & anxiety. Meditation focuses on thoughts and breath, addressing mental relaxation and concentration, and can be achieved through various methods. Yoga practice is a way of life and helps create mental clarity along with physical benefits. Incorporating meditation and yoga into your daily routine is a great way to take time to yourself and focus on your well being.
4. Rather than stress eating, you should eat to reduce stress!
Nutrition is key for maintaining not only physical health but mental health as well. Eating a healthy diet rich in nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants can boost your energy & immune system and reduce the negative effects of stress. Here are some recipes that can fuel your body full of healthy foods that help relieve stress.
5. Stay connected.
You may be in quarantine but don’t let yourself be in isolation. Make it a point to check in with family and friends each day, whether it be a phone call, text message or video call. Virtual social gatherings have also become a popular way for families and friends to stay connected and “hang out.” There are various platforms, (Google Hangouts and Zoom are popular) that are free and easy to use. Don’t let social distancing totally interfere with your favorite traditions and social routines (like holiday celebrations, family dinners, and social gatherings).
6. Reduce incoming stressors.
If the news and social media are adding to your stress and anxiety levels, try to limit them as best as you can. Those “breaking news” alerts that pop up on your mobile device may not only be adding to your stress levels, but also interfering with your productivity. If staying up to date on the latest news is important to you, try to set a time each day to tune in and get the updates so you can focus on other things (like work, homeschooling, and keeping on track with your stress-relieving activities) the rest of the day.
7. Extend grace.
With the entire family living under the same roof 24/7, tensions are on the rise. Try to be emotionally generous whenever possible. Resentment adds to feelings of being overwhelmed and overall stress levels. Stop, breathe, remove yourself from the situation by leaving the room for a moment, regroup, and revisit. Remember, we are all in this together and we are all trying to adjust to our new normal as best as we can.
By following these 7 tips, you will have a solid foundation to help you stay focused on what you CAN do to navigate the unchartered COVID-19 pandemic and reduce your stress levels. In addition, accepting the things you CANNOT control will further aid in your ability to manage your stress. If you are feeling alone and in need of help, call your local crisis prevention hotline. You are not in this alone. Lean on your community. Together we will all come out of this stronger than ever. ❤️