Amid the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, it’s no surprise that we’re all feeling a lot more stressed than usual. On top of working from home, taking care of our families/loved ones, and having to worry about an infectious virus that spreads easily, there seems to be no time to just take a minute and breathe. However, now that we’re all home for an indefinite amount of time, there’s never been a better time to practice effective ways of managing and relieving your stress levels.
When we’re more aware of how stressed we become throughout the day, it’s much easier to figure out ways to combat those feelings and recognize them before it builds up into an overwhelming cloud of anxiety. Make a note of what things are triggering a stressful response in you everyday, and then try to work on those specific areas. While this can be as specific as receiving an email from one particular coworker who never gets anything done, there are a multitude of general ways to help separate ourselves from the situation and calm down.
Getting exercise or at least some sort of movement in everyday life is a requirement for being quarantined. Even if it just means going outside and walking a few laps in your backyard, it’s essential that you’re at least stepping outside, breathing in some fresh air, and stretching out your muscles and bones everyday.
It can be so easy to get wrapped into binge marathons on Netflix, especially now, but we can’t get too comfortable with making that a habit. The more you’re sitting around and just watching mindless TV shows or movies, the more likely it is you’re going to put off the things you have to do which will only lead to even more stress being added onto your already full plate.
Learn how to create boundaries between your work and personal life. This is imperative for those who are currently working remotely. It can be challenging to turn your work brain off and casual at-home brain on when you’re just home all the time. This is why it’s recommended that you set up your remote working station in an area of your home that’s as separated from the rooms that are known for inducing relaxation (such as the living or bedroom).
Another easy way of separating your work and personal life at home is to make sure you’re filling your personal time with activities that you want to and enjoy doing. This could include cooking, gardening, knitting, reading, and anything else that you consider relaxing. By filling your free time with things you want to do, and your work time with the things you have to do, it’s easier for your brain to make that distinction, even if you are just moving from room to room everyday.
Make sure you’re staying hydrated as well. Getting enough water everyday is obviously imperative for your physical health, but it also is for your mental health. According to Amanda Carlson, the director of performance at Athlete’s Performance, “studies have shown that being just half a liter dehydrated can increase your cortisol [stress hormone] levels. The National Academy of Medicine recommends that you drink one milliliter of water per each calorie of food consumed.”
Make lists of all your daily, weekly, and monthly goals. It’s easier to break down what you have to do for work, your family, and yourself when you have the general guideline in front of you. Daily duties can include things like returning emails, making phone calls, baking a cake for your brother’s birthday, etc. Weekly duties can include more generalized things such as going to the grocery store, ordering more dog food online, and basically anything else that isn’t an immediate need but should get done within a matter of days. Finally, monthly goals can more so pertain to you personally and how you’d like to see yourself grow in the near future, which includes managing your stress. This list can include things such as starting to exercise at least twice a week, or learning how to cook a new dish every week, etc. Have fun and be creative! This is your own personal list of goals, so make it personal.
Finally, and arguable most importantly, you have to make sure you’re getting enough sleep every night. Not getting enough sleep is one of the number one causes of stress, as we all know, when we’re tired, we’re a lot more irritable, which makes it so much easier for us to get stressed out. The Sleep Foundation recommends getting between 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Try going to bed at the same time every night and turning off all your screens at least one hour before bed. This will start getting your body into a proper sleep schedule and can help ensure that once you’re asleep, you’ll stay asleep until the morning.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.