It’s natural to feel stressed or anxious when presented with unprecedented circumstances. The coronavirus or COVID-19 continues to present new and unique challenges that evolve every day. Nonprofit employers are navigating unchartered waters and their employees are along for the ride. Many are working from home for the first time, isolated from co-workers, friends and family while also home-schooling their children and or taking care of elderly family members. This disruption in our daily routines has caused added anxiety, stress and strain—physically, mentally and financially. All of this combined makes it more important than ever to find new ways to interact and communicate with others while also taking care of our mental health and physical well-being.
You can’t avoid stress completely but too much stress over long periods of time can be harmful to your health—ranging from headaches, decreased energy, irritability, body aches and pains, irregular sleep or insomnia, difficulty concentrating or worse, can contribute to serious health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease and mental health disorders. The good news is you can get ahead of stress by recognizing how you feel and practicing ways to find calmness.
Below are some ways to manage stress and anxiety through positive self-care and healthy social connections:
Be selective about how you consume COVID-19 information – while it’s good to be informed and aware of what’s going on around the world and in your community while we combat this virus, ensure you follow credible sources such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) and limit how much time you spend absorbing that information.
Set boundaries on your work schedule – it’s easy to keep working when you have no reason to get up and leave the office but it’s important that you set a schedule with healthy boundaries and stick to it.
Maintain a routine – having some semblance of structure and consistency from your pre-Coronavirus life will help to keep a sense of control and normalcy while also making it a little easier to readjust to the outside world when it’s time to go back to work.
Limit your time online – set a timer, focus on positive things while you are online and divide your time between the different sites you like to browse. You can even install a website blocker to help temporarily force you off certain websites.
Stay connected – our greatest resource for alleviating stress is still connecting with our loved ones. Don’t just pick up the phone, use Skype, FaceTime or Google Hangouts to get some face to face time.
Leverage Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction – the practice of meditation can help relieve anxiety, boost your mood, improve sleep and promote mental and emotional health—the benefits are endless and you can do it anytime, anywhere.
Stay active – this isn’t just good for your physical health but also for your mental health so don’t let this time at home go to waste. It’s important to keep moving, whether it’s strenuous exercise, Yoga or even just light stretching. You can find an entire universe of free classes online right now with many instructors live-streaming classes from home.
Get outdoors – fresh air goes a long way in easing the feelings brought on by stress and anxiety. Take a long walk around your neighborhood or go for a bike ride and enjoy some new scenery—all while maintaining physical distance from others of course.
Embrace a hobby – partake in something you really enjoy doing just for the fun of doing it. Something that requires attention and physical movement like embroidery, scrap-booking, painting or sewing to name a few.
Learn a new skill – knowledge is power as the saying goes. There are an unlimited number of online classes you can partake at no or minimal cost that range from bread making and drawing to crochet and learning a new language. Skillshare and Udemy are great resources.
Take an adventure through a book – start a mini book club and invite your friends to participate via video so everyone can share their thoughts and interact as a group.
Get in the kitchen – if you enjoy cooking or baking, there’s no better time than now to try out some of those recipes you’ve been waiting to experiment with.
Do some Spring cleaning – it is Spring after all. Organize those drawers that have been begging for order, clean out your closets, and donate what you no longer need or use, or work on getting your filing cabinet in order.
Watch feel-good movies – musicals are a great way to lift your spirits if you’re into that or distract your mind with an old black and white classic.
Count your blessings – take a few moments to focus on all that you have. Be thoughtful and sincere about who and what you appreciate in your life and let them know.
Find an online support group – there are a plethora of websites out there that offer virtual or phone options for group or individual support as well as live chat rooms. Having others to talk to that share your same concerns can help alleviate the anxiety brought on by COVID-19.
As we protect ourselves against potential exposure to the coronavirus, keep in mind that social distancing does not mean social isolation and remember that you’re not alone. Look after yourself, get enough sleep, eat well, and reach out to your support network. Engage in activities that benefit your well-being, bring you happiness, and distract you from existing challenges. Set your sights on long-avoided tasks or projects and try something new. The above mentioned tips about self-care are meant to help you thrive in mind, body, and spirit. Coping with stress in positive ways will make you happier, healthier, and stronger.