As we navigate a global crisis, managing stress during COVID-19 is no easy task. Discover tips and best practices to help ease anxiety and stay positive in these challenging times.
Three weeks ago, we were leading busy lives with busy schedules. The airports were bustling, events were taking place all over the world and we were reading about coronavirus with concern but our lives were not largely impacted. Today, we face an entirely new set of circumstances. Governments around the world have ordered lock downs, travel bans have been put in place, schools and non-essential businesses have closed and shelter in place orders issued.
Our shopping habits have changed from looking at new additions to our spring wardrobes to scouring any and all retailers we can think of for basic essentials as bare shelves line the stores.
These are incredibly harrowing times and as we navigate what has quickly become a global pandemic, there are many questions of uncertainty circulating through our minds. We’re also collectively – quite understandably – stressed! Today, I wanted to hit *pause* for a moment to talk about this stress and share tips that will hopefully make this very difficult time just a little bit easier for you.
Managing Stress During COVID-19
Right out the gate, I have to confess this discussion on managing stress during COVID-19 is a bit of the “blind leading the blind” piece. Okay – in fact – that’s exactly what it is. Because in reality, none of us have navigated this situation before and we’re all learning as we go along.
That said, I have been taking steps in my everyday life to manage stress and ease anxiety as much as possible. In the event ANYTHING I could offer would be of any help to you during this crisis, I wanted to go ahead and share what’s working for me during these difficult days.
Limit Watching Television News
This is generally a good idea, but it’s particularly useful in managing stress during COVID-19. The 24/7 news channels have a way of sucking in viewers. We flip on the TV one moment and find ourselves still there hours later. The nature of the coronavirus so universally impacting all of our lives in some capacity makes it all that much harder to tear ourselves away from around-the-clock coverage. We are all experiencing this every day.
The problem with too much television news? It can distort your perspective and significantly increase your anxiety. You know that feeling when you can feel your chest tightening and blood pressure starting to rise? We’ve all been there!
During this time, establish a daily limit for yourself and abide by it. That could be one or maybe two hours of television news, before turning it off. If major developments arise, read articles from The Washington Post and the BBC or updates from organizations like the CDC. Find a balance that works for you!
Establish a Routine
All of our routines have pretty much been flipped upside down at the moment. We’re in a state where we’ve lost any sense of normalcy and that alone can understandably make us feel anxious.
When looking at managing stress during COVID-19, one key thing you can do is establish a new routine for yourself. Yes, we hope this situation is all temporary and will pass as quickly as possible – but in the interim, structuring your day may help when things otherwise feel out of control.
- Working Remotely? Setup a dedicated ‘office space’ for yourself and work from there
- Daily Exercise? Continue workouts with an outdoor run/walk or take advantage of online classes while gyms are closed
- Have a Standing Meeting? While you may not be able to attend in person, continue scheduled meetings over the phone or over a video chat
- Attending School Remotely? Follow your normal study schedule as closely as possible
Stay Social – Remotely
There’s nothing ideal about the circumstances we’re living through right now, but we do have options in technology to help us stay social. Some great ways to avoid feeling isolated during isolation are:
- Video Calls: Use tools like Facetime, Skype and Zoom to maintain face-to-face contact with friends, family and coworkers
- Facebook Groups: Create a private Facebook group to remotely maintain interaction with groups and clubs
- Attend Live Chats: Tune into the surplus of live chats happening around social media at the moment and engage with other viewers
- Engage On Twitter: Watching something on TV or Netflix? Search what other people are saying about it on Twitter and engage with them so you feel less isolated
Find Ways to Laugh
Studies show laughter truly does decrease stress hormones, so it’s arguably one of the best ways to help in managing stress during COVID-19.
- Stream a stand-up comedy special
- Put on a comedy that always makes you laugh, i.e. Friends, Seinfeld, Parks & Rec, Schitt’s Creek
- Turn to TikTok for unlimited short comedic videos people are posting in their everyday lives
- Talk with friends and family, steering conversation away from the crisis and towards something more light-hearted
- Find comedians on YouTube. Personally, I LOVE EJ Speaks and Beth Hoyt
Our minds have a way of keeping the wheels turning around and around again, don’t they? Tame your worrying thoughts and imagination by taking some sort of action. Big or small, it will give you a sense of accomplishment that you’re actually doing something. (Which is particularly helpful at a time when we often don’t know what to do.)
- Pursue a passion project
- Develop a skill
- Tackle an item on your to-do list you normally never get to
- Take a walk outside
- Listen to an inspiring podcast
- Contact an elderly or at high-risk neighbor to see if there’s any help they need
- Prepare fresh meals and freeze as an easy option down the road
- Sanitize and organize
- Research and attend webinars on topics relevant to your industry
- Meditate to clear your headspace
Start a Journal
Be it on your phone or in a notebook, journaling is an incredibly effective way of managing stress during COVID-19. Information is flying at us at a rapid pace! We’re all understandably worried with concerns about our personal and family’s health and finances. The constantly evolving crisis continues to evolve with new developments every day and it can often feel difficult to stay afloat.
To help process your emotions and concerns, take time for yourself to write down your thoughts. The act of journaling will help you release pent up energy and stress as well as help you find clarity at an overwhelmingly confusing time.
How Are You Managing Stress During COVID-19?
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