COVID-19: Eight Tips To Help You Ease Stress & Anxiety
With all the fear, uncertainty and stress spreading around, COVID-19 has exposed our need to practice more PRESENCE. Alongside doing the best you can to help contain the virus, taking safety measures, being informed and taking care of our health, this is an opportunity to watch your mind and practice managing it better. As I was having my Friday morning coffee, I was thinking about the Serenity Prayer: “Grand me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” The Serenity Prayer reminds us to focus on the things we can control instead of wasting precious energy on what is beyond our control. There is a difference between living with fear present in our lives and letting fear live our lives. It’s the difference between experiencing fear / having fearful thoughts vs. becoming fear. You are presented with an opportunity to practice differentiating between the two. This is not about diminishing fear but acknowledging its presence without becoming it. Giving yourself permission for those thoughts to be there, knowing that THIS TOO SHALL PASS. I do not underestimate the severity of COVID-19. I’m deeply aware of the variety of ways it’s affecting our planet right now. I’m also deeply aware how contagious fear can be and how we do get to choose. Therefore, it’s important to fully understand the impact of stress on our bodies, especially during times like this, when we need our body to function at its best. To keep it short - when we are stressed, our body releases hormones such as norepinephrine and cortisol which push us into sympathetic overdrive (“fight or flight”). Here’s the problem - recovery, repair, and rejuvenation can’t take place when we are constantly in a sympathetic state. When our body perceives stress (whether it’s psychological or a real-life danger) it puts all its effort onto our survival (ready to run away or fight) and therefore our immune is impaired.
So, alongside the mindset shifts I’ve mentioned above, I wanted to offer you eight tools / tips to help you ease, prevent and manage stress & anxiety:
AVOID INFORMATION OVERLOAD. It’s absolutely important to stay well informed. BUT you do not have to consume the news 24/7. Turn off news notifications + set boundaries around what information and when you are consuming it. Limit your time to avoid information overload.
MINDFUL INFO CONSUMPTION. Be wary of fear mongers + be mindful of fake news on social media. Trust information from reputable sources only. Choose 1-2 information sources and learn information from them only. Try to focus more on data vs. media coverage (after all, the news is a business and it thrives on fear).
CHOOSE YOUR WORDS. Pay attention to the language you’re using. Be mindful of the energy the words your'e choosing is creating. Words have great power over your feelings and the feelings of people around you. To the best of your ability, try to avoid using dramatic language that generates more stress and fear.
MANAGE THE STRESS RESPONSE. Uncertainty and concerns about health can activate the stress response in the body. This can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as muscle tension, high blood pressure, difficulty sleeping, and poor concentration. Utilize deep relaxation exercises to counteract this response. This includes deep breathing, meditation, yoga, gentle stretches, walks in nature (within the safety guidelines), journaling and lavender + magnesium bath.
FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL. You can only do the best YOU can. Focusing on what we can’t control results in high levels of stress and a waste of precious energy. Instead, focus on what you can control – follow guidelines for handwashing and hygiene, nourish your body (lots of vitamin C!), get quality sleep, and find outlets for stress relief.
BREAK UP WITH “WHAT IFS”. Monitor your thinking for sentences that start with ”what if.” These sentences tend to involve mostly worst-case, hypothetical scenarios that are unlikely to happen (use Mark Twain’s quote as a reminder: “I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”). These thoughts create high levels of stress, and they do not help you to prepare or feel better.
CULTIVATE A POSITIVE MINDSET. Write down 3-5 things you’re grateful for first thing in the morning and / or before you go to sleep. This will help with our mind’s negativity baes.
PROTECT YOUR INNER STATE OF PEACE. Stay away from people who’re imposing their negative energy on you. People who use dramatic language, who complain endlessly about things they can’t control, who’re extremely cynical, etc. If distancing yourself is impossible, try asking them how they intend to fix the problem they’re complaining about. Oftentimes they will either quiet down or redirect the conversation.
That’s it my friends, hope this has been helpful for you! The spread of this virus has also been exposing a need to take our wellbeing more seriously, both our personal and our collective wellbeing. Collective, meaning community, supporting and allowing people to feel and express their fears without judging them. I want you to know that I AM HERE FOR YOU! Please feel free to reach out for any extra support! We are all in this together <3 Take care, Lots of love, Naama