We all have our own ways of dealing with stress. Hitting the gym, going to the mall for some retail therapy, or going out with friends are healthy solutions. But what happens when those things are no longer options? Here are five ways to deal with stress in these times of crisis.
Currently, during this COVID-19 pandemic — we’ve learned not only how frequently we touch our face, but also how much conventional stress management techniques involve socializing. Being around others reminds us that we’re in this together.
There is no panacea for stress management in a time of crisis, but there are ways to find joy and relaxation in your own home. If you’re struggling with stress management during a crisis like the current coronavirus outbreak, try these tips.
Keep a Routine
In a time when you’re not leaving your house, it can be easy to get your times and dates mixed up. That might mean a funky sleep schedule, unusual eating patterns, and much less movement and exercise.
To help deal with stress and normalize the unfamiliar time of a crisis, do everything you can to keep your routine. Even if it seems silly to get dressed for work just to sit at your kitchen table, do it. Go the extra mile to get your exercise, literally. Take your calls on the treadmill, walk your dogs during your lunch, or utilize popular online workouts before or after work.
You might have noticed social media posts of workers by getting ready as usual, hopping in their cars, driving around to drink coffee, putting their badges on, and going back home to work. That might seem extreme, but it’s essential to find small ways to make your day feel like business as usual.
When you’re stuck at home, it’s easy to feel disconnected from the outside world. Don’t let it happen.
It’s not healthy to hole up in your home alone for extended periods. While you’re stuck inside, be sure to:
Stay in touch with friends and family.
Social media is an excellent resource in times of crisis. It is a quick way to communicate, find news, and even laugh at a few memes.
With that said, the best way to ensure that you’re communicating with others is to make it a point to never go an entire day without using your voice. It seems simple, but when you think about it, it’s surprisingly easy to do during a crisis like this.
At the end of your workday, if you find yourself feeling socially unsatisfied or alienated, set up a Zoom call with friends or coworkers. Hop on the phone with an old friend or relative.
Watch the news
Even if it scares you, watching the news can help with stress management in times of crisis. Some people will tell you just the opposite. Test yourself and find the best action for yourself. Learning about all the good happening in the world can improve your mood and give you the confidence to move forward. It also might expose you to some new resources or outlets in your community. Try SGN (Some Good News by John Krasinski — it’s excellent.)
Unplug at Night
While social and news media are relevant channels to keep you connected to the broader world, don’t forget to unplug. Odds are, you’re working from a computer; in your downtime, you’re likely watching TV and surfing the internet.
Give yourself a designated time each day where you don’t consume media or stare at your screen. Maybe that means an hour of exercise, take a nature walk or practicing a hobby or craft. Whatever you do, find time to unplug.
Don’t neglect yourself.
It can be hard to think about yourself when others around you are suffering. You might feel selfish for tending to your wants when others in your community can’t get access to things like healthcare.
While it is crucial to think of others, it shouldn’t stop you from prioritizing yourself. For self-care:
Even if you don’t consider yourself a regular yogi, you can make time to relax your mind, control your breathing, and think about your goals and feelings. It might seem a little cliche to say that you should “inhale the positive and exhale the negative,” but that’s precisely what you need to do during a crisis.
Get enough sleep
It might sound basic, but it’s critical to get enough sleep in a time like this. If stress causes you insomnia, a few ways to improve your sleep quality include cutting off caffeine in the early afternoon, shutting down televisions and electronics an hour before bed, and relaxing your body and mind with meditation.
The best way to cope with high-stress levels is to be a little selfish. Go ahead: Treat yourself.
If you would have typically treated yourself to a lunch out with friends, treat yourself with lunch in via a delivery service like DoorDash. And if shopping calms your nerves, many sites are hosting sales right now.
Beware, though, if you shop on Amazon that you may need to wait a little while for your goods. Amazon has given priority to essential products in its warehouses so that non-essential shipments may be delayed by weeks or months.
When your stress levels get high, and things seem dim, plan ahead for the future. Think about how, eventually, we will be out of crisis mode. We might not know precisely when, but we know it will happen.
Think through goals that are important to you. Maybe you plan (but don’t book) a vacation with friends, make a savings plan for something you’ve wanted for a long time or do something as small as making a workout and meal plan. No matter how dark the day feels, you can always daydream a little bit about the future.
Time of crisis might make our stress levels skyrocket, but they also make us appreciate the little things we used to take for granted. It’s vital that we hold onto those.
Find things that bring you joy, and use them to reduce your stress. Remember that you’re in this with everyone else, and that like them, you can find a little bit of relaxation amid a global crisis.
Student at UC Berkeley, currently working on a degree in Electrical Engineering/Computer Sciences and Business Administration. Experienced in CSX, productivity management, and chatbot implementation.