The thought of relaxing may feel more difficult today than it was before our lives became overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic and all the changes it has brought. From routines, deadlines and ways of life, for most of us, our day-to-day now probably looks nothing like it did a few weeks ago.
At times like this, you may be finding it harder to stay calm and grounded. But we’re here to share why that’s more important perhaps now more than ever. And please, keep in mind, it is perfectly normal not to be feeling quite yourself right now. Be gentle with yourself during this challenging time.
A Step Away From the Ordinary
During the “ordinary” times that we were all living not so long ago, we had our routines. Wake up, get the kids ready for school, head to work, cook a healthy meal, exercise sometime in-between, spend quality time with family and friends — something like that.
We had balance, structure, goals and intentions. Or at least we were striving for that. During today’s times of uncertainty, our biggest focus should be building a healthy environment with a positive outlook. That may seem hard, but a shift in outlook can make all the difference.
From Ordinary to Opportunity
Your outlook impacts your outcomes. Some may see a broken routine, while others will see opportunity. Every day that you are healthy is a gift, and while it may not feel like it at times, approaching each day with this outlook can have a positive impact.
For example, it may be frustrating that the kids are home from school while you’re trying to do your day job, but it’s also a chance to teach them things they can’t learn in the classroom. Turning a possible stressor into a learning moment is a choice, but it’s one we’re all capable of making with the right support in place.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acknowledges that everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, and “how you respond to the [coronavirus] outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in.”
Effects of Stress
Stress can take a toll on you, fast. It can affect your body, thoughts, feelings and behavior. Some common effects of stress include:
- Angry outbursts
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Chest pain
- Fear and worry about your health
- Social withdrawal
- Worsening of chronic health problems
Making opportunities for yourself to relax can help reduce these side effects and re-focus your energy on the good.
5 Ways to Stay Grounded Mentally During a Pandemic
It’s normal to feel stressed during a time like this. And it’s important to recognize that stress, rather than trying to minimize it. To help lower your stress level, experts suggest the two most important things are getting enough rest and eating sensibly. Here are a few more ideas to help support your mental well-being.
1. Connect With Other People
You may be mostly confined to your home at this time, but thankfully, we can still keep in touch with family and friends virtually. Try an online video chat through your computer or smartphone. If you feel comfortable sharing your stress with your loved ones, do so. It’s likely that someone else is probably feeling the same way and talking about it may help you both.
2. Exercise Regularly
Taking care of your body helps you feel better mentally, too. Most gyms are closed, but that doesn’t mean your exercise routine needs to end. It may just need to be different. Take a family walk after dinner. Do some stretches at your desk while you’re working from home. Wherever you can fit it in, aerobic exercise releases endorphins, which are the natural substances that help you maintain a positive attitude.
3. Make Time to Unwind With Relaxing Activities
Read a book, listen to some music, or maybe now is the time to learn how to play an instrument or pick up a new language. Or, how about gardening, crafting, puzzles or quiet reflection? Days filled with work and taking care of the kids and pets can take a toll both physically and mentally, so it’s extra important to set time aside to unwind with something you enjoy.
4. Take Breaks From the News
This includes watching, reading or listening to news stories — even on social media. The CDC says that hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting, and understandably so. Balance taking breaks with keeping yourself informed, from sources you can trust.
5. Understand What You Can and Can’t Control
In moments like these, much is out of our hands, and while that can be unsettling for some, we will get through it. Try to focus on acknowledging what you’re feeling and making the most of what you can control.
Be Informed and Feel Empowered
Some may choose to ignore the pandemic news to reduce stress, while others feel more comfortable being fully informed. There is not a wrong choice here, but if you would like more information surrounding coronavirus, please visit our Coronavirus Resource Hub. You can also learn more about managing anxiety and stress during coronavirus from the CDC.