Most people agree that the last almost 6 months since COVID-19 appeared have been some of the most stressful months in their lives. Many are struggling with feeling bad for being stressed or anxious and doing a lot of “I should do…” or “I shouldn’t do…” But it’s okay to not be handling this pandemic well and to feel stressed or anxious as you navigate these uncertain times.
Here are some practical tips to help reduce stress and anxiety:
-Go for a walk: being out in nature helps restore a connection to the earth and promote grounding.
-Pamper yourself: paint your nails, do a face mask, take a bubble bath. Do things that make you feel taken care of?
-Exercise: engaging in physical activity releases endorphins and other hormones that promote feeling good. Go for a run, do yoga, play a sport, jump rope, swim some laps-just move your body!
-Deep breathing: stress and anxiety can result in your chest feeling constricted resulting in a feeling of being unable to catch your breath. The most important thing you can do is breathe! Close your eyes, take a deep breath down into your belly, hold for a beat or two, and then slowly exhale. If you need a visual, imagine a cup of hot chocolate: take a deep breath in while smelling the yummy chocolate then exhale slowly to cool it down (slowly so you don’t cause the hot chocolate to spill over the edge of the mug!).
-Take a time out: when everything becomes overwhelming, take some time for yourself. Even if it is only 2 minutes while hiding out in the bathroom, it is good to recognize when you are hitting your limit and need to pause. If you are able to, take 10-15 minutes so you can practice some of the techniques above.
-Focus on the people/places/activities that make you feel good: there is a lot of negativity right now in the world and it is okay to take a break from those that do not make you feel good. While you will not be able to cut out certain things (e.g., a job), you can be selective in other areas. Not only taking a break from the negativity, but seeking the positives. Who do you feel the best after spending time with? What places make you feel energized? What activities put a smile on your face? Connect with the positive to counteract the negative.
-Limit social media: breaks are needed, even from social media. It is too easy to get swept up in all of the information that is available so readily on our phones. Take a step back, focus on your environment, ground yourself, and then rejoin social media. Sometimes a day or a week away from social media can put things into perspective and allow you to see it for what it is, entertainment.
-Seek help: if your stress and anxiety continue to grow and feel like your tools no longer work, reach out to Treehouse to see how we can help you. We provide individual, couples, and family therapy to address many situations and challenges. We are here for you!
Michelle A. Culver, LMFT