With COVID-19 upon us, most of us are experiencing a host of stress attacks, robbing us of sleep and peace. We need to apply measures of self-care for us and also care for others.
It is tempting to skip self-care because it takes time to do it. But if we allow ourselves to take the time necessary to be careful, it will pay off in the end.
We’ll be healthier, and our immune systems will have the upper hand to fight off incoming viral attacks. Incorporating these five tips (or even just a couple of them) will significantly reduce your stress and help you to cope with being cooped up for a little while longer.
SET A ROUTINE
It’s easy to fall OUT of regular habits if you suddenly find yourself home rather than at your place of employment. You may be experiencing this right now. You don’t have to get up at 5 AM and can sleep until 9 AM if you feel like it. Or, if you are working from home and usually start at 8 AM, you can pretty much roll out of bed at 7:30 AM. It’s lovely, isn’t it?
Enjoy it for a little while, but eventually, most of you will need to go back to work and resume those earlier hours. Keeping at least a modified version of your old schedule will help you, in the long run, to ease back into that transition.
Having a morning routine, especially if you are prone to waking up stressed, can reduce your anxiety.
For example, something as simple as taking some deep breaths first thing when you wake up, meditating, having a cup of tea, and playing uplifting music can make you feel at ease first thing in the morning and start your day on a more positive note.
Smile and say, out loud, “It’s going to be a great day!”
Now that most of us are home, it’s easy to lift our foot off the gas. Some are relaxing on all fronts, including their eating habits. It’s common for people, when stuck at home, to throw nutrition out the door and gain a few unwanted pounds. Stress can make us overeat.
Combat stress in this area by eating right. This pandemic era we’re facing calls for the best nutritional habits we can muster.
The grocery stores may have a shortage of paper products and hand sanitizer, but lucky for you, that’s not part of your diet. They have plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs, salad greens, and other healthy foods available.
Start with a plan. Steam some veggies and put them in your refrigerator. Eat some apples and pears. Grill some turkey burgers.
This confinement could turn out to be the fittest time, nutritionally, you have ever experienced. Combined with some home exercises, you could return to your place of employment a new person!
Giving your body needed nutrients will enable it to fight viruses and other bacteria-related illnesses.
SLEEP 7-9 HOURS
Studies repeatedly show the benefits of getting enough sleep. Science Daily reports how deep sleep can rewire the anxious brain.
“While a full night of slumber stabilizes emotions, a sleepless night can trigger up to 30 percent rise in anxiety levels, a new study suggests.”
If you have trouble catching Zzzzs at night, try staying away from screens at least an hour before bed. Read a good book or work on a crossword puzzle.
GET SOME FRESH AIR
Don’t underestimate a refreshing breath of outside air and some sun to boost your mood and clear the cobwebs. It releases stress and resets your day.
Maybe you’re concentrating on work or indoor projects. No matter what you’re involved in, make sure to get out for a walk and some sunshine.
Set alarms to remind yourself to step outside. I’m mainly talking to the introverts in the room.
NO NEWS BEFORE BED
I know the pandemic news is alluring (and alarming.) We watch the news on TV, laptops, or our phones. If others challenge us about how long we are watching the news, we justify ourselves by saying, “I have to know what’s going on in the world.”
But do you know watching too much of the news is a major contributor to stress? How much of the press do you really need to know?
I suggest we only need to know the facts and then turn the TV off. We don’t then need to hear all the opinions and reactions. It feeds fear and negativity in our minds and causes us to question our safety.
If you watch hours of TV these days, especially before bed, you’re going to wind up paranoid of every little thing that we can’t control. You will go to sleep stressed and wake up stressed.
Take measures to tend to the things you can control (washing hands and staying home); don’t dwell on things you can’t control (issues the government is trying to fix or the buzz about how many confirmed cases are in your area.) It induces maximum stress.
IT’S A WRAP
Applying these methods to reduce stress will take some effort, patience, and intentionality on your part, but the effects will be well worth it.
Start tonight with a full night of sleep, and in the morning, take some deep breathes as soon as you wake up. Think about what you’re thankful for and meditate on positivity.
Plan what you will eat every day. Get outside at least once, and move about your day in a routine you’ve devised, so you can keep stress levels down.
Be careful not to binge-watch the news. Slow down and take the time to care for yourself, your family, and help others too. You’ll see a reduction in your stress level, leaving you feeling happier and rested.