Stress-Busting Strategies to Protect Your Health
Published April 2020
Self-Care During the Pandemic
Are you stressed?
Stress can negatively impact your overall health and well-being, which is particularly concerning during a pandemic. That means that stress relief and emotional health are critically important right now.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is creating extreme stress for many people. Some of those who have been staying at home may be tasked with the masterful juggling act of balancing work, child care, home schooling, elder care, pet care, self-care, cooking and cleaning. Others are faced with the opposite challenge: empty days and isolation due to the cancellation of events and social activities.
While you cannot control the world beyond your doorstep, most people can maintain control over daily life, including their connectedness with others and level of activity. Regardless of what your pandemic days look like, creating a daily schedule can help you feel accomplished and empowered, and can ensure that you set aside time for relaxation and pleasurable activities.
Ways to Combat Stress
Anxiety and stress are expected during times of uncertainty. Reduce the harmful effects of stress on the mind and body by carving out moments to laugh, exercise, slow down and breathe.
Practice these strategies to build and maintain resilience and emotional strength:
- Exercise regularly.
- Get fresh air and sunlight daily.
- Talk to at least one person every day.
- Eat a well-balanced diet. Be mindful of the sodium and sugar content in nonperishable and take-out foods.
- Limit or moderate substance use.
- Protect sleep and maintain a healthy sleep schedule.
- Develop a routine for each week and a schedule for each day. Cross off items when completed.
- Recognize the areas within your control, celebrate your resilience and embrace your strengths.
- Embrace the power of healthy communication and supportive listening.
- Talk to someone about your emotions and concerns, or write them down.
- Practice gratitude daily. Take a moment to reflect on the people or things, large or small, that made the day more pleasant.
- Check on others and, if applicable, ask others to check on you.
- Lean on healthy coping methods: religious faith, spirituality, friendship, humor, gratitude or exercise.
Choose the stress-busting strategies that work for you, from maintaining a routine to getting fresh air regularly. If you are struggling to cope, seek professional help. Many mental health professionals offer care through telephone or video chat visits, so you do not have to leave home to receive support.