Contending with Stress and Uncertainty from Covid-19
by: Remie Longbrake | published: March 30, 2020
During times like these, with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) upon us, it’s normal to feel concerned about our health and our loved ones. Naturally, this will bring stress to our lives out of concern. There has been much hardship already and our way of life has been disrupted in many ways. We can feel it is out of our own control, and with so much of our daily lives being impacted, there is cause for concern, however, there are some things you can do to empower your emotions during these times.
We can all do better for ourselves to by focusing our efforts on being mentally, physically and spiritually strong. By doing so we’ll be better prepared to take on not only this virus and it’s punch to our way of life, but any challenge we may face much more effectively. Given the circumstances, such feelings are in fact reasonable, if not normal. So don’t feel bad because your are worried, however we want to enhance our moods as much as possible.
Listed here are some stress indicators.
Below are some valuable tips to reduce our stress levels and contend and be more resilient.
Be honest with yourself.
How do you feel? Understand changes are occurring that are outside of your control currently. Many have been forced to stay at home, businesses closed, schools closed, our favorite establishments as well. Things are unnatural at this present time, however, you are still in control of yourself. Meaning you may not be able to control the external environment, however, you can control your own internal thoughts and the mood you set. Be real with yourself. We all have the ability to be either positive or negative in any circumstance. It’s not about lying to yourself, it's about proactively choosing to be present in the moment, and choosing to be positive.
Unfortunately, our thoughts tend to think of worse case scenarios. I believe this is due to conditioning from eons of reacting to our environments through survival. What if thinking often leads us to anxiousness. It’s the worry of the unknown that gets us worked up and allows stress to enter. It’s crucial to not the mind tell us there is gloom ahead, for we truly don’t know the future. In many ways we need to look at the positives and be willing to see these circumstances as not all bad.
For me and those I work with, I encourage journalling. Get thoughts down on paper. I prefer paper over a computer, as it is your own handwriting. Be real, with yourself, your thoughts, and why you think in these ways. I also like to ask, how can I make each day a better day? End of days I encourage asking what did I learn? What was good? What did I do good? Each day make an effort to make the day better.
Stick to routines as much as possible.
Although many of us are confined to our homes, that doesn’t mean everything in your life goes out the window. It’s sort of natural for our minds to think of all the things we used to do that we can’t do in the present. We are accustomed to waking up at a certain time, getting to work, chatting with coworkers as part of our mornings, then actually working, answering phones, and coming home.
A lot of that has changed. It’s stressful to think about. We often share more with our work counterparts then own families in many cases. That can be challenging, especially when husbands and wives who used to spend a few hours together are now around each other all day.
The best thing for us to do is stick to our healthy rituals. Get up the same time, exercise, spend time with family, and try to keep productive through out the day. That time in commute can be reading time or journalling. I wouldn’t recommend it be Facebook time or time nick-picking on your spouse because the house isn’t perfect or bills are coming due and there maybe isn’t enough cashflow.
Other ideas, whether permitting, could be go for a walk, bike around the neighborhood, garden perhaps, spring is coming! Podcasts can be good, even YouTube if it’s positive in nature. Taking up a new skill and learning are also great ways to empower yourself, build creativity, and positive energy.
Be there for those you care.
Now is a great opportunity to reconnect with those you love and care about. We often get bogged down with everyday life, and before you know it, weeks if not years can go by. It’s good to slow down and shift priorities for the moment. Sometimes it takes moments like these to bring us back home and place things in perspective.
Definitively, have conversations with your spouse. How are they really doing? Have them open up and share their thoughts. Share your thoughts, fears, and be real as well. Talk with your children too. Let them know things are going to be okay. Yes, things are different for the time being, but it’s no reason to get upset and let our emotions take us to places we dread.
Reach out to extended family too. Touch base, reconnect. See what they need. What are their thoughts, trials, and experiences so far. Don’t forget friends and neighbors. This time more then any, be a helping hand and be what a friend should be, as sometimes we get away from that. If there are neighbors, especially elderly, call them, see if they need groceries or pick up a prescription for them.
Be conscious for them and for us. We don’t know the germs we carry. Make sure to wash our hands and give enough distance (about 6 feet), when communicating with others.
Socially connect (at a distance).
Just because we may be confined to our own homes, does not mean we should tune out the world. We have incredible resources to connect in cyberspace! I consistency reach out to new and old connections alike. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram are great avenues to branch out and connect. It’s not a point to spread more fear or gossip(there’s enough of that), but to actually have discussions with those who share your career or hobby interests. I conduct a fair amount of business online. Of course, that’s not everyone’s focus, however there are resources in place to network and share possible business opportunities.
Many meeting hubs that previously took place after work hours are moving online. There are usually leadership clubs or Chamber of Commerce events in most cities. Be sure to take advantage of these resources if you are not already. Also, for those interested in real estate, many of these gatherings are taking place online. Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp, and Facebook Live are common communication sources that enable live virtual interactions between each other.
Create and find your peace.
This is an important step. We need to have ways to cope with life’s challenges. There are many ways to create peace, however to many of us give it little thought. We get lost in the daily challenges that we too often live in those challenges, instead of stepping back for a moment and checking in with ourselves. Often loved ones are also caught up in those same challenges that we feed the negative energy of each other, that leads to other challenges, both in our relationships and our health.
Personally, I create peace in a number of ways. My daily ritual starts out positive. I take time to pray, meditate, and read each morning. I make this a quite area and other family knows this is my time to focus. We also encourage each other to have their own time as well.
A good breakfast goes a long way. Eggs, oatmeal, sausage, juice and coffee are great ways for me. Also, take time to stretch, sometimes some light yoga, and almost always get to the gym.
Doing the work day, I choose not to gossip or read all the negative news. I’ll get outside, listen to an audio book, take in nature. If it’s too cold or raining, I’ll make it a best effort to take time out to reflex and recharge.
In the evening, I’ll connect with family more, share stories, thoughts, play a game, read and reflex. One thing I find enjoyable is journalling. Writing down thoughts about the day. If it’s been a bad day, I have no problem writing about it and then tearing up the sheet I just wrote. It’s a powerful statement that the day is behind me and I need not worry. Try it, it works!
The point is to find quiet time for you, where you can lean on your faith, gain perspective, and enable your body to recharge for each day, and give yourself the opportunity to mentally get rid of negative emotions that we may encounter.
Fuel your body.
We need to nurture our bodies better. Eat better, more wholesome foods. Given that most of us are home, this gives us a great opportunity to cook more often, that then eating out so much. We should focus more on lean proteins, such as chicken, turkey, and fish. Consuming ore veggies and fruits. This shouldn't be a special occasion. We get nutrients from these foods, and it's important to eat a balanced diet for optimum health. We too often are in a rush and give in to the fast foods that usually have little nutritional value.
When the body is in good health, we are most able to fend off nasty particles. Of course, this does not make us immune, however it does help. Plus good foods boost our energy and in stressful times this is what we need.
Most certainly drink plenty of water. Our bodies are mostly water, so we want to replenish with water more so then soda’s and sugary drinks.
Also, don’t forget Vitamin C and or a multivitamin daily. This help us get those missing nutrients we may be lacking. Of course, when you are not sure always check with your doctor, nutritionist, or pharmacist to provide proper nutritional advise for your needs.
Build up your body.
We all know exercise does the body good, but it is also one of the best ways to manage stress. Exercise, does not have to be strenuous to be effective. A walk or bike ride outside does wonders. Unfortunately, many gyms are closed, so we need to be resourceful when it comes to our fitness. If we have a home gym that’s great, however we can also be creative around the garage or basement or even the living room. There are free workout resources online such as YouTube we can utilize for an effective workout right at home.
Also, try to stick to your work out regime. If you were one to go to the gym 3 days a week. Take those 3 days to be active. It may take some creativity, and of course the weather doesn’t always cooperate. Do you best because exercise is super important to our health and well being. Regardless, whether you had a workout regime in place or not, it's important to start one and stick to it.
Sleep on it.
We all need our sleep. We need to rest and recuperate. Too little of us get too little sleep. We should strive for 8 hours for adults. Children and teens likely 8 to 10, since their bodies are still growing. Sleep also helps us with our stress levels and is important for our immune health.
The truth is many people are concerned about catching the virus, their families possibly catching it. On top of that many are out of work, then stress builds from being at home not doing what they want to be doing. All this worry adds to our stress, therefore many are not sleeping well.
If you find yourself not being able to sleep, you can try chamomile tea. Aromatherapy, such as lavender can also help you relax, as can melatonin. You can also try meditation or yoga, a warm bath. Also, avoid the news before bed and social media. This just adds to our stress and prohibits sleep. If you do find yourself not being able to sleep consistently, such as several times per week, check in with your doctor. Let them work with you to find a solution so you can rest.
A common stress reducing exercise are breathing techniques. Especially useful when we are feeling anxious or nervousness. Here we want to take slow deep breaths inhaling, which should be done from the belly as it’s called. You can either hold your breath for a few moments (don’t pass out), and then exhale forcefully that breath. You can repeat this for several minutes if need be or through out the day. Either way it’s very helpful to dislodge often negative thoughts we are experiencing.
Another useful breathing practice is when doing the above exercise to focus on multiple body parts when breathing. You can close your eyes as you are breathing, start with focusing on the top of your head to start. Breath there for a few breaths, then place your inner focus on the back of your throat, then your heart, all the while breathing slowly.
Give it a try, very powerful tool!
Have familiarity on the facts.
It’s easy to let the circumstances get you down and stress you out. The reality is COVID-19 is cause for concern, however, we should also realize that sensationalism in our news and on social media is quiet the norm these days. That does not mean we should ignore what is being stated, however, we should also try to get our information first hand. The good thing is that most local and state government have communication resources in place to inform us of what is happening. At the Federal level, there are also almost daily briefings on what the situation is and how things are being contended with. If someone on Twitter, Facebook, or elsewhere is saying something extreme, by all means do your own research. If there is no source with the information you're seeing, as many cases, do your best to fact check and check in with government and health resources.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with negative information. Do the best you can to stay in the know and keep practicing social distancing as much as possible. Try not to become stressed out of every tidbit of news. Keep yourself and family safe as much as possible and follow sources you can trust.
Many things feel uncertain and out of our control at the moment. That can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. The world is a big place, and there are good people to help. Just know this will get under control. Things may not exactly return to normal once everything settles, but the thing about life is we are always learning and adapting. It’s important to understand what is occurring in our world, both local and afar and do our best to stay on top of our health and nurture our bodies with healthy choices and stay positive. Don’t let your emotions induce fear and stress into your environment. If your healthy, be a good friend to others and help those in tougher situations then yours. That could be as simple as a phone call, but do rely on good techniques such as practicing social distancing, washing our hands often, and choosing to wear a mask in public may be beneficial. Listen to good information and plan accordingly.
If you find yourself or someone else who may be facing a lot of stress, reach out, share these tips and seek proper care as needed. In any case if you or someone you encounter shows signs of illness, have them do the right thing as seek care.
We will prevail!
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