It’s safe to say that few of us have ever experienced anything like the current pandemic and all that has come along with it.
While the necessity of social distancing is very obvious, that doesn’t make it any easier as the weeks and months drag on. Likewise, it’s normal to worry about being infected with COVID-19 despite all precautions you take. Plus, there can be other stressors as well, including financial and job-related issues.
It’s important to know that you can take steps to help manage the stress of this situation. You don’t have to let the pandemic control you.
Knowing Yourself and Your Circumstances
A first step in managing your stress level during the pandemic is to take a good look at how you’re really doing. You can be so busy homeschooling, trying to work from home, and strategizing grocery trips that you forget the effect stress has on you.
Consider how you’ve been feeling. Are you experiencing signs that you’re not coping well with the stress of the pandemic? Everyone is different, but these could include sleep changes, feeling more irritable and angry, anxiety, and lack of motivation for daily responsibilities.
Once you’ve analyzed your personal situation and feelings, you can decide on utilizing some of the following ideas to help you cope with your stress.
When you’re stuck at home, it’s easy to become so absorbed in your own little world that you completely forget to reach out to others. But even the smallest of interactions can brighten a day, especially in a time like this. Text, call, video chat—there are many options!
Staying on top of your body’s needs and hygiene is important. Even little things like combing your hair and brushing your teeth provide a signal to your brain that it’s time to get started with the day. A hot bath or shower can also work wonders.
Exercise can play a vital role in helping you cope with the stress of the pandemic. Movement burns off nervous energy and releases feel-good hormones. It helps you sleep better and curbs sugar cravings. Exercise might also get you out into the sunshine, which is also important to help you feel uplifted and refreshed.
Try to learn simple mindfulness techniques, such as showing gratitude, slowing down your breathing, and paying close, calm attention to your surroundings. Learning how to ground yourself when you’re feeling upset and anxious is especially helpful.
If you’re working from home, it can be easy to let routines slide. But routines provide structure to the day. They offer helpful boundaries to manage your time. Experts recommend going to bed and getting up at the same time, setting a schedule for getting work done, and many other things that provide stability.
You may expect yourself to be able to function at the same level as you did before the pandemic. Maybe you feel like you have to use the extra time at home to tackle all sorts of projects. Perhaps you have ambitious plans for teaching your kids extra things since they’re home.
But it’s okay to let go of these high expectations. It’s okay to not tackle everything and to let some things slide. Now and then, you’ll just need to put your feet up, relax, and watch a movie. Cleaning out the garage doesn’t go anywhere—it can wait!
With the future of the pandemic still unknown, and while details of returning to normal remain vague, it’s important to take action to measure your stress. That will give you a direction to take stress-relieving steps. And if you’re struggling under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic, you don’t have to struggle alone. We would like to help.
We are offering telehealth sessions, which are proven to be as effective as in-person therapy. Please contact my office to find out more. Together, we can get through this!