“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” ~Mary Shelley
Hearing the term “uncertain times” grew old almost immediately. We’ve been bombarded with negative news about the global pandemic, civil unrest, global warming, job loss, inflation, war, and countless other things continuously. None of us has definitive solutions for any of these issues. Uncertainty is a given.
Most of us function better with a predictable routine. It gives us a sense of control. There is no doubt that the pandemic disrupted life as we knew it. The disruptions have, naturally, given rise to stress and anxiety.
The question we do have some control over is how to mentally, emotionally, and physically deal with all this change and uncertainty. This post will lay out some suggestions for managing the stress and anxiety that accompany such instability in our environment.
My number one suggestion is to stay informed about current events, but limit your intake of the news. Set aside a certain amount of time each day to stay abreast of the news, and limit yourself to that time constraint. It is best to get your news earlier in the day rather than just prior to bedtime.
Due to the social distancing and isolation that resulted from COVID, many people became less active. Adding even small bursts of exercise into your schedule will help to improve circulation, increase serotonin, decrease anxiety, and improve sleep. Begin to prioritize exercise and getting into the great outdoors. If possible, incorporate walks into your day.
Prior to the pandemic, loneliness was a worldwide concern. It has skyrocketed since the WHO declared COVID to be a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. Many relationships became strained over the loss of routines, increased time at home together, and differences of opinion on vaccines, masks, politics, and you name it. While some relationships and marriages flourished, others disintegrated. Friendships were lost; families broke up; singles paused dating. If you’re experiencing a lot of loneliness, begin to reach out to people and cultivate friendships. Consider adopting a pet, if you can commit to caring for it over the course of its lifetime. Be kind to yourself in the process. Sounds cliché, but be your own best friend.
Sleep should be very high up on your priority list. Set a schedule and stick to it. Eliminate screens at least an hour before bedtime. Try reading instead. Keep the bedroom dark, cool, and quiet. Dedicate the space to sleep and sex. Try not to work or use your phone in bed. Getting consistent, adequate rest serves to reduce anxiety, balance hormones, curb hunger, and increase immunity. If you have trouble getting to sleep, remember to eliminate news intake in the evening and try meditation or reading.
Personally, I believe we are all grieving. Worldwide, we are grieving the horrific loss of loved ones to the virus. And, also, a sense of loss over time lost, jobs eliminated, and experiences missed out on. Times like these require us to evaluate our habits which may have become unhealthier in response to the pandemic. Begin to take small steps toward making positive changes in your life.
It’s commendable that mental health has gotten so much attention in these “trying times”. Mental health is often not talked about due to concerns regarding stigma. Fortunately, it has become more commonplace to reach out for help and support. If you think you might need some help, you do. It’s a strong person who can admit they need assistance. Set aside time for yourself to research providers and make an appointment.
Additional anxiety busters include: listening to uplifting music, journaling, deep-breathing exercises, and eating clean. We all know that obesity has been linked to higher risk of adverse outcomes from COVID. Take control over your eating habits, and do what is necessary to reduce your alcohol consumption.
Learning to take control over what you can provides a sense of personal agency. Even in the midst of so much turmoil, there are things we can control. Keep bringing the focus back to self-care. Practice random acts of kindness and/or get involved with a charity. (See Recognizing & Addressing the Signs of Burnout for additional self-care tips.)
Coaching provides the support and accountability necessary to develop excellent self-care habits. Unlike traditional psychotherapy, coaching is strengths-based and goal-oriented. There is no diagnosis! I offer a strictly confidential relationship. If you are ready to try coaching, please schedule an Initial Consultation here. Let’s create the right formula for you!