We are living in very stressful times, living in the time of this Coronavirus outbreak. The situation seems out of our control and our new way of living – either or lockdown or social distancing from loved ones –is uncomfortable and different.
Here are 10 things you can do to help to manage your stress better:
1 – Exercise often
Exercise is important to reduce stress as it helps to release helpful chemicals like serotonin and dopamine that help to reduce the stress causing chemicals in your body – such as cortisol and norepinephrine. It can help you to take your mind off the situation around you and help you to sleep better too.
Find an exercise you enjoy – there are many free online classes to try from yoga, to Pilates, or aerobics. Or try a walk outside if you are allowed to. Find something you enjoy, and stick to it for a few weeks to get maximum benefit for stress reduction.
2 – Eat well and eat healthily
When you are out of routine, and maybe can’t get to the shops as often, it is easy to get into the habit of eating junk and unhealthy foods. This can wreak havoc on your blood sugars, which can affect your mood and stress levels. Aim to keep healthy snacks around to snack on when you feel the urge, as well as planning your meals in advance to help to keep the healthier foods in the house, and avoiding foods that will affect your blood sugars and stress levels.
3 – Get enough sleep and rest
Sleep is the time where your brain can heal and clean itself. Sleep helps us to manage our stresses better, and lack of sleep can really play a part in increasing your stress and changing moods.
Before bed time limit the amount of news you watch, spend some time getting your body and mind ready for bed by doing breathing exercises, lower the lighting in your bedroom, having a relaxing bath – start to wind yourself down so your body knows it is time to sleep.
4 – Stay Connected
We are physically apart from many of our loved ones and work colleagues – but we don’t need to be disconnected from them. Take time to plan social group video calls, or make sure to call or message some friends every day. This can help you to feel less isolated and less like you are going through this alone. Having some conversation and some laughs can lessen your stress and can help to relax you. There are so many options to connect to friends using technology – playing games together online; video calls; group video calls; voice notes and video notes to name a few.
5 – Limit your news intake
While it is important to stay informed of the news, especially how it affects your local community and any new guidelines that come into place, too much news is not helpful. It can lead to feelings of anxiety, fear and feeling very overwhelmed. Limit how much news you watch, and where your sources of news are coming from. Choose reputable and reliable sources, that focus on facts and not on spreading sensationalist news stories.
6 – Take time for activities you enjoy
You may not be able to do some of the things that you enjoy like going out to restaurants or going to shows or concerts – but there are things you enjoy doing at home. Take time to do these activities, whatever they are. Things like reading a book, playing video games, watching a movie or cooking for your family. These activities generate positive chemicals that can help to relieve stress and help things to feel more normal.
7 – Help others
By taking the focus off of you, and onto others that need help, can help you to feel less powerless in these times. It will also generate positive chemicals in you that helps to decrease stress.
Be in touch with people who you know live alone, are they ok, do they need anything? Also, look out for the elderly and vulnerable in your community – do they need someone to go do groceries for them or do they need any medications? Find ways that you can help those around you. It also helps us to feel as if we are in this together, and you are not alone.
8 – Control what you can
There are many things out of our control at the moment, but there are things you can control.
Stay at home as much as you can; wash your hands regularly for more than 20 seconds and use hand sanitizer when you are out; keep a distance of around 6 feet from people if you do need to go out and if you need to cough or sneeze – do so into your elbow or into a tissue and discard the tissue as soon as possible.
These small things can make a big difference in the spread of the pandemic, and they are in your control to do.
9 – Create a new routine
For many of us, our daily lives have been turned upside down and we are completely out of routine. It is important to establish a new normal for now and a routine can help with this. Find a time each day to do the things that matter – have a routine for exercise, for work or study, for downtime, and time for connecting with friends. Your mind loves the familiar and a routine can help to create this.
10 – Stay positive
This may seem incredibly hard in current times, but there are many amazing stories of how people are stepping up and looking out for one another. Positive stories of hope and love. Take time each day to read some of these inspiring stories to help you to focus on the positive. Also, choose the people you spend time with – those who try to remain positive despite the circumstances can help you to do the same. This helps to reduce stress and calm your mind.
These times will pass, they will not be here forever. Look after yourself and take time to plan how to manage your stress and anxiety better during this outbreak.
Dr. Gregory Jantz
Pioneering Whole Person Care over thirty years ago, Dr. Gregory Jantz is an innovator in the treatment of mental health. He is a best-selling author of over 45 books, and a go-to media authority on behavioral health afflictions, appearing on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CNN. Dr. Jantz leads a team of world-class, licensed, and...