Managing Stress During COVID-19

24 April
2020

For many people, uncertain times can lead to anxiety and stress. The COVID-19 outbreak has led to some lifestyle changes and for many of us, this transition has been difficult. Now, more than ever, caring for our own mental health and managing stress is essential. However, sometimes this is easier said than done. Learn more about how you can practice stress relief and self-care during trying times.

Schedule Video Chats on Your Weekly Calendar

One of the biggest changes that many people are facing is isolation. While it's important to stay safe at home in order to curb the spread of the virus, this means not spending time with friends and loved ones. However, there are plenty of ways you can still stay in touch with those you care about. In order to make sure you're staying connected to the important people in your life, be sure to schedule video chats on your weekly calendar. 

Just as you would schedule a time to meet a friend for dinner, coffee, or happy hour, you can schedule a time to chat with them online. With tools like Netflix Party, you can watch movies together or binge your favorite shows. And if you're a parent, don't forget to schedule a time for your kids to see their friends, too. Humans are social creatures, and staying connected with other people is a great way to manage stress and stay mentally healthy.  

Limit Time On Social Media And Watching The News 

Flip on the news or log into Facebook and you'll probably be faced with some pretty bleak messages about the spread of the virus. While it's important to stay updated on the latest recommendations from the CDC and learn any information that can help keep you healthy, spending hours watching the news or surfing social media can really have an impact on your mental health. While these platforms can help us stay informed, they also sometimes sensationalize what's happening in the outside world. 

Set a reasonable limit on how much time you spend watching the news, and use social media to stay in touch with friends and loved ones instead of getting pulled into reading less-than-happy stories. Focus on getting information about what's happening in your town or local area instead of what's going on in the world at large. Often times, world news can be overwhelming. And when you focus locally, you may find some positivity - neighbors helping neighbors, fun virtual activities, or ways to spread hope to people in need.

Fill Your Schedule With Physical Activity and Healthy Habits

The time we once spent on activities outside our home has suddenly turned into a whole lot of free time. Instead of using this time to get lost in our heads, we can fill it with healthy activities and self-care. If you are able, try to get outside for a walk, jog, or bike ride (while social distancing, of course). Fresh air, sunshine, and green spaces can really change your perspective when things are rough, and exercise is great for managing stress. If you aren't able to get outside, there are still plenty of indoor activities you can do to keep your body healthy. Check out workouts on YouTube that don't require any special equipment. Even a few minutes of yoga or stretching can help you stay active. Above all, try to avoid sitting around on the couch for hours at a time.

And, if you're able to get your hands on some fresh produce, now is a great time to learn to cook fresh new recipes. With the free time you have, work to instill healthy habits and reconnect with what's important to you. Create a schedule that makes time for activities like exercise, reading, cooking, connecting with family and friends, and learning new things. This way, you won't be at a loss for what to do, and you won't find yourself constantly reading negative news or turning to unhealthier habits. 

Practice Mindfulness By Grounding Your Thoughts And Starting A New Hobby 

One of the best things you can do for your mental health is grounding your thoughts. Activities like meditation and practicing mindfulness can help with this. The spread of the virus and the state of the world is out of your control, so thinking about it just creates unnecessary stress and worry. Focus instead on things you can do at this moment. You can take steps to keep yourself mentally and physically healthy, you can spend your time productively, and you can choose to not think about the negative things that are happening. All of these are things that you are in control of. If you find your mind wandering towards feelings of stress or anxiety, recognize it, and gently redirect those thoughts by remembering the things you have power over and the things that you don't. If you practice this regularly, you'll find that it becomes second nature. 

And it's likely that there is something that you've been putting off doing or learning for months or even years. Maybe you wanted to improve on a skill like leadership or management, learn a new hobby like an instrument or a language, or finally work on a project like organizing your basement or building a model. Right now, there is no excuse not to! There are plenty of great resources for learning available online. Work on something that can help increase your knowledge, improve your employability, or make you happy. Read the novel that's been sitting on your shelf. All of these things can help keep your mind active and off the current state of the world.    

We can't predict how COVID-19 will continue to spread or when we can expect to get back to our former routines, but it will likely take a while for things to return to some state of normalcy. In the meantime, we need to manage our stress levels and make sure that we are doing everything we can to stay healthy both physically and mentally.