Simple Ways to Manage Your Stress During a Pandemic

Picture of a woman running through a park to reduce stress.

As we’ve seen from the news, the coronavirus has become a national pandemic, causing many large cities across the country to all but shut down (bars, restaurants, movie theaters, and most “non-essential” businesses are shutting their doors to visitors) and many people are having to work remotely from home to help stem the spread of this dangerous disease.

If you’ve seen or read any news over the past week or two you already know what steps to take to help prevent catching and spreading COVID-19–washing your hands, practicing social distancing, staying at home as much as possible, etc. (here’s a useful PDF from the CDC if you’d like to read through their recommendations). These are all crucial steps that should be taken seriously and followed as often as possible, but they’ve been discussed extensively so we decided to focus on another aspect of your health during these trying times: your mental health.

With the uncertainty that this pandemic is creating–from worrying about friends and relatives’ health and safety, to worrying about the possibility of running out of supplies, to wondering if you’ll still have a job tomorrow or next week, etc., the list of things to worry about goes on and on. However, all of this worrying can lead to stress, and high stress levels can negatively impact your mental and physical wellbeing.

In order to help cope with this unprecedented scenario (at least, unprecedented in our lifetime) implement the below tips into your life and routine–they’ll help keep you more centered, lower your stress levels, and make the quarantine more bearable until the crisis is resolved.

Eat Healthy

Stress can cause you to over-eat and crave unhealthy foods. Emotional eating is a common way for people to try and deal with their stress and may help reduce anxiety levels temporarily, but it can be a vicious circle as these unhealthy foods can keep your body and emotions out of balance. Instead, pay attention to what your body is telling you–take note of when you’re tempted to reach for chips or whatever snacks you have lying around and instead opt for healthier snacks and meals–produce or fruits (as long as you watch out for sugary fruits such as pineapples, cherries, and pomegranates, for example)  are a much better choice. Proper eating helps keep your body and emotions stable, which can help reduce stress and help you fight the urge to over-indulge on foods with no nutritional value.

Exercise Regularly

While you should practice social distancing and avoid gyms (most of them are closed for the time being, anyway), that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get in frequent workouts. If you need to escape your home for a bit, you can’t go wrong with a walk, run, or hike–just be sure to stay as far away as possible from others who are out and about. If you don’t want to leave the comfort and safety of your home, getting in some cardio or yoga in your living room (or wherever you have space) is a great alternative. It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as you get your body moving every day or two. These exercise sessions help keep your endorphins flowing (which in turn helps you feel better and can improve your mood and attitude). Plus, staying healthy with plenty of exercise can help boost your immune system, which is especially important when illness is running rampant.

Get Plenty of Rest

A lack of sleep can lead to a number of problems–including increased stress levels, irritability, lack of focus and concentration, and a weakened immune system. When you’re stressed, you may find it more difficult to fall asleep, so the stress can feed on itself and give you a lingering feeling of unease and discontent. If you’re having trouble falling asleep and getting the recommended hours of sleep (usually around 7-8 hours for most adults) try avoiding caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and other stimulants in the evening. Plan your night so you know what time you should be in bed and disconnect from electronics for half an hour or so (read a book or meditate, etc. instead). If the current news and incidents across the country are contributing to your lack of sleep, be sure to follow the next tip as well.

Disconnect from the News & Connect with Family & Friends

While it’s crucial to keep up with the news in times like this, it can be easy to get sucked in. When you consume too much of this negative news, it can be hard to stay positive. This can create a sense of dread and a feeling of doom that can be difficult to shake, which can raise stress levels and make it difficult to sleep. While you should keep an eye on the news, don’t let it consume you–instead, take some time to connect with friends and family. Whether through phone call, texting, Face Time, Skype, or whatever your preference is, staying in touch can help not only you feel better, but can also help others feel better as well. It’s nice to know we’re all in this together, and that we can stay strong and be there for each other.

Zana’s Place is always here for you, too. If you live in the Tyler, TX area and have questions or would like to discuss your health and wellbeing, give us a call or reach out on our contact form and we’ll follow up with you asap to make sure you’re taken care of.

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