“I’m feeling incredibly stressed right now. I am afraid of me or my family getting or spreading COVID-19. I’m following all the guidelines to stay healthy and keep others safe, but what can I do to reduce stress and anxiety?” – Hayley, Lake Charles, Louisiana
Truth be told, many of us have seen our stress and anxiety mount over the past month. Fear and uncertainty are a toxic brew. When you add in the Coronavirus pandemic gripping the world, it’s almost overwhelming. The key word here is “almost.” There are simple actions you can take right now to practice self-care and reduce stress.
Most stay-at-home orders do allow us to go out and get some fresh air. While it’s super important to keep our social distance, we can still walk or jog around our neighborhoods. Exercise has loads of benefits, from raising endorphins to helping you sleep better. I take a walk every day, and it’s had a huge impact on my overall wellbeing. Try listening to your favorite tunes to add an extra spring in your step!
There are also numerous workout videos of all styles available on YouTube, and many fitness professionals have taken to using platforms such as Facebook Live to reach students. You can even set up a video meeting with friends and do yoga together remotely, or maybe try a dance party! Especially if you are feeling the impacts of social distancing, it might be good to incorporate exercise with others into your routine.
Reach out to friends and family! Make a phone call, use FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, or whatever medium is easiest for you. Check in to see how others are doing feels good. Plus, you get to share how you are doing. It’s easy to create a virtual get-together with platforms like FaceTime, Zoom, Google Hangouts, or Skype. FaceTime can connect up to 32 devices with unlimited time. Zoom offers a free basic plan, but limits your time to 40 minutes. Google Hangouts has unlimited time, but allows only to see 10 people at once. With Skype you can host up to 40 people for 4 hours.
Be lively and get creative. What about a slumber party? An ugly sweater contest? Or movie review (no spoilers!)? The only rule is not to make this into some big deal that adds one iota to your stress level. It’s family and friends getting together to enjoy one another’s company, have fun, and share some laughs.
My last suggestion is to get constructive with a project, something you can easily tackle that provides a sense of control. For me it was making fabric masks. As soon as I started making them, I felt I was doing something that could help. And it also feeds my soul to be of service.
What type of activity would work for you? How about organizing your photos into albums? It has the added bonus of re-visiting special memories. Or try creating your own playlists on Spotify. Personally, I have multiple playlists for everyday activities, like working, cleaning, and walking. Maybe you want to plant a garden, flower box, or indoor terrarium. Pick something that is easy, where you already have everything you need, or can get the few items you want to complete the project.
The best thing you can do right now is something for you. Take care of yourself so that you can bring your best self forward to your family and friends. Recognize that you do have control of your own actions. Rather than focus on what you are giving up, think about what you are getting in return. By reframing this time with new possibilities, you can reduce stress and pent up tension, and find ways to celebrate life.
Lynn Whitbeck is the co-founder and President of Petite2Queen. She is focused on identifying and evaluating opportunities for women at work, helping them define their personal roadmap. She dedicates herself to delivering tools and insights, embracing visualization of the big picture, and identifying and implementing the minutiae of detail. Lynn aims to share lessons learned along her journey and enable positive uplift for women.