Stress Isn’t The Problem– It’s How You Handle It.
I think we can all agree that 2020 has been nothing shy of one large bundle of stress that just seems to continue to snowball with each passing month. Uncertainty and the fear of the unknown are two of the largest contributing factors to our stress levels and it’s no wonder when there is still so much left out in the open. Will our jobs be secure? Is my family trip next Spring going to be cancelled? Are my kids going to be safe if they go back to school? Living in a world where each day seems to bring on its own set of challenges and questions, it’s hard to put all of the negatives aside and focus on the good that’s in front of you. Our 2020 calendar seems to be covered in giant “?”s, day after day and when that’s the type of environment that you’re living in, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed. Luckily, we have some methods to help combat those weighted feelings.
What Stress May Look Like
One thing to remember is that everyone reacts to stress differently and therefore has their own methods to handling it. While some may notice changes in their sleeping and eating patterns, others may turn to alcohol or drugs to help dual their sensors. Other signs of stress may include:
- A fear or worry about your own mental health and the health of your loved ones
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating at work and in every day tasks
- Worsening chronic health problems
- Worsening mental health conditions
Stress is not a one size fits all which means, there is not a one size fits all solution. However, the first step to tackling your stress is pretty universal throughout– acknowledge. You can’t not find a solution to a problem you aren’t even aware exists.
Love Yourself and Thy Neighbor
Not only taking care of yourself but also keeping a watchful eye out for your friends and family is one way to cope with your stress. Be sure to check in often with yourself and also your loved ones. We may not be encouraged to have family gatherings or parties or even go out to eat as often as we used to, but there are still other (safe) ways to communicate. Things as simple as a phone call, video chat, or even a text message can really go a long way in today’s world. Make it a habit to take a few minutes out of your day to check in on someone and just let them know that you are thinking about them. Get your friends together and host a virtual happy hour or even rally up your family for an online game of euchre. Be creative! Find new and exciting ways to connect with those who mean the most to you.
Make Yourself a Priority
Though it’s a great gesture to go out of your way for your sphere, you need to put yourself first and foremost. You can’t pour from an empty cup. One of the most beneficial ways to cut through a lot of the day-to-day stress we’re facing between the Coronavirus and the upcoming election is to simply cut it off. Spend a few days and take a break from watching and reading any news stories and note how much your mood changes. Skip the morning news announcements, put the newspaper down, and yes, even try muting your social media for a bit. People don’t often realize how much of an impact one simple announcement can affect our mindset for the entire day. I challenge you to step into a world where the only news you are aware of is what’s happening right in front of you. Some other great ways to cut through the stress include:
- Take care of your body. Focus on your diet and the nutrients you’re putting into your body. Spend some time exercising both your mind and body. Whether it be a cardio session at the gym and a peaceful meditation before work, set some time aside for your mind and body to rebalance and stabilize themselves.
- SLEEP. The CDC recommends that adults get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep a night. This simple stress reliever is often overlooked but what people don’t realize is that this is when your body accounts for everything that happened throughout the day and it uses this downtime to prepare for tomorrow.
- Make time to unwind. Whether that be yoga, going on a walk, reading a good book, or treating yourself to a spa day, make sure you arrange some time in your schedule to just be.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out. Like we discussed earlier about the importance of checking in on your loved ones, make sure you have someone you can trust who is willing to consistently check in on you. And if not, do not be afraid to connect with people that you feel safe talking about your concerns and emotions with.
With all the uncertainties and unanswered questions that we continue to face week after week, it is completely understandable (and quite frankly, expected) to feel stressed and anxious about what is to come next. Be sure to check in with yourself to see how you’re doing, and I mean really doing. If you are feeling a little overwhelmed with what’s on your plate for the day, make sure you take some time for you and if you have some love and energy left over, don’t forget to pass it along to a loved one. As Demi Lovato once said, “It’s okay not to be okay.”
It’s not a bad life– just a bad year. For more information about stress management during a pandemic, head on over to Boulder Community Health. If you or someone you know needs help finding ways to cope or otherwise, head to the CDC website for a list of trained specialists who are here for you for whatever the need.
One thing to always remember is although we may be apart, we are still all in this together.