How The News & Lockdown Stress Can Cause Overload
The pandemic has hit many people in some way, whether emotionally, financially, physically, or through the sickness and loss of loved ones. As the coronavirus situation continues to develop, the stress will increasingly take a toll on us all. If that wasn’t enough, the news is full of political unrest, economic tailspins, protests, racism and violence that seem to be ramping up day after day.
The events in the world add another layer of stress on top of what you may already be dealing with in life, and even the news can be a tipping point. With a ferocious mix of emotions, it’s unsurprising that so many of us are becoming overwhelmed.
Here’s a look at how to take a step back and manage the stress, fear and uncertainty.
1. Distraction Therapy
Many rely on distractions for managing chronic pain as they can give us a small break and temporary respite. In times of overwhelm, distractions can be very beneficial. Get yourself away from the situation, the triggers and your own thoughts by immersing yourself in something else. It can be whatever you enjoy or find engaging and engrossing in some way, like a TV series, a good book, crossword puzzles, arts and crafts, gardening or films.
It’ll help reduce the tension, whether you’ve got a few hours or 10 minutes here and there throughout your day.
2. Talk It Out
The need for connection is part of the human condition. In addition, a build up of emotion and stress needs a way out, otherwise it festers and bubbles under the surface. You might want a deep and meaningful conversation or just a casual chat about the weather, because sometimes the old adage of how it’s good to talk can be true. Have a catch-up with friends, family, loved ones or online friends. Pick up the phone, set up a video chat, get on WhatsApp, or reach out on forums and Facebook groups.
Remember to seek professional support if you need it. Don’t feel you have to go it alone.
3. Get Out Into Nature
The great outdoors can have a plethora of benefits, but during the pandemic and lockdown it’s harder for many to get outside. If you can do so safely, or ideally if you have a garden, try to get a little fresh air from time to time. Revel in the small, simple joys of the blossoming flowers and the green grass. Marvel at the insects and animals.
Feel yourself connect to the natural world and recognise that you are a part of something bigger, grounded and supported by the world around you. If you have a pet, spend more time with them and let their carefree nature soothe and lift your spirits.
4. Be Active
No, I’m not talking about going for a run or hitting the elliptical. If there’s a cause you’re passionate about or a burning issue getting under your skin, make your voice heard. With the political unrest in many countries right now and the decisions being made at higher levels leaving many of us feeling so powerless, simply trying to be involved in some way can give you a sense of achievement.
Maybe there’s a petition you can sign, a blog post you can write to raise awareness, perhaps you can write to your local MP or maybe you can Tweet about it. Whatever it is, you can take a small stance and make your voice heard.
5. Make Self-Care A Priority
Ironically, self-care often takes a backseat when we probably need it the most. Think of the more meaningful and the more superficial elements of that make up self-care and the ways in which you can show yourself that you matter. Ensure you get your basic needs met first, like nutrition and hydration.
Then, with the small things, think moisturising, pampering, treating yourself, doing the things you enjoy. With the bigger things, think being assertive, standing up for yourself, saying no, and asking for help when you need it.
6. Disconnect & Switch Off
Take a step away from social media and limit your exposure to the news. We’re constantly connected, and the barrage of opinions, statistics and breaking stories can be overwhelming. It can come at us from all angles, from TV and newspapers, to everyday conversations, Twitter and the radio. It can start to feel like it’s all bad news, and it gets harder to find those feel good and positive stories.
It’s useful to stay up to date with what’s happening in the world, but there should be some balance. You can either go for a full-on news and digital detox, or just ease off a little. If it’s all getting too much, then step away from time and time and maybe set yourself limits with how often and for how long you check social media and read the news.
7. Flex Your Chuckle Muscles
With coronavirus stress catching up with us, it’s a good idea to try to find reasons to smile and laugh each day. What do you enjoy doing? What makes you happy and brings a little joy? If you don’t have hobbies or interests and are struggling for ideas, consider hunting down the things that might make you smile, even if only briefly.
Think silly memes, cute cat pictures, funny YouTube videos, jokes and one-liners online. Laughter can be a good medicine to add to your daily intake.
8. Proactive Protection & Prevention
When it comes to the virus, you can’t control government guidance and you can’t control the behaviours of others, but you can be proactive in your personal efforts. Be proactive in setting routines for cleaning and hygiene, ensure you have the products required, and get on top of what you need to do to help protect yourself and your family as best you can. Be part of the solution in curbing the pandemic, because we can all play a role.
We can’t fully guarantee protection against the coronavirus for ourselves and our loved ones, much as we can’t guarantee preventing everyday accidents. All we can do is our best and knowing that you’re doing what you can may help you feel a little more prepared, confident and in control.
9. Create An Environment You Love
Most of us have been spending more time at home and probably will continue to do so. It’s worth making sure our home environment, especially if it’s also your work environment, as pleasant as possible. When so many of the big things in life seem to be out of our hands, we can try to take a little control back by focusing on what we can do. Look to create a clean, safe, warm, welcoming and comfortable environment. The need for cleanliness can pique OCD tendencies, so if you feel this resonates then be mindful of it.
The adage of ‘a tidy house, a tidy mind’ can hold some credibility and you might just feel more organised and on top of life if you can get your home likewise organised. Decluttering, cleaning and tidying can also be therapeutic, so pace the chores to prevent over-exhausting yourself too quickly and celebrate the small achievements along the way.
Having much-loved items or decor can be comforting, and don’t underestimate the effect of a good-smelling home either. Sure, a clean home can help keep away mental clutter, but a house that smells heavenly can also help boost mood, induce relaxation, and raise your comfort level. With that in mind, consider getting essential oil and a diffuser, or try lighting smudge sticks every morning to clear the air and make your home smell good. If you have pets around, make sure you’re getting essential oils and other aromatics that are safe for them as well.
10. Mental Declutter
There are various techniques and activities that can help with calming and decluttering your mind. Exercise, if physically possible, can be a way to let out frustrations and clear your head. Breathing exercises are another way to bring some balance into your daily life. Other people find the likes of yoga, mindfulness and meditation helpful.
Mindfulness can be done through guided online practice, self-help books and apps, or it could be as simple as concentrating your focus when making a drinking a cup of tea. Set aside five minutes or half an hour, whatever you’re comfortable with, to meditate. Go at your own speed and allow your thoughts to present themselves without resistance or judgement. Let them be. Bring yourself into the present and slow things down.
Try to gradually build in time each day for some mentally decluttering as this can help ease the tension and provide you with more mental space and energy with which to cope with life.
Step Away From Stress
Sometimes it’s the small things that can help the most in calming our frazzled emotions and mentally recalibrating. Don’t underestimate the mental health toll that the coronavirus situation and other events in the world can take, especially in conjunction with the pre-existing stresses in your life. Acknowledge how you’re feeling because it’s okay to not be okay.
Try taking proactive measures to ease away from the stress and step away from the harrowing news. Be gentle with yourself and build into your daily lifestyle the tools and activities that can help soothe and uplift you, mentally and physically.
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