In the past month, life has changed dramatically for all of us.  Social distancing, working and education from home are the new normal.  Stress coming from the uncertainty of the situation is prevalent and many are feeling frightened, isolated and even bored.   Although at this point, we can’t change the reality of the situation, we can find ways to stay positive and minimize stress. Here are some ways to do so.

  1. Limit how much news you watch each day and try to get just the necessary facts.  Nothing raises anxiety faster than consuming too much news.  In addition, much of the information coming through social media is opinion or speculation and may not be based on fact.  Also, try to stay away from the news prior to bedtime.  This will raise your anxiety and disrupt your sleep. 
  2. Go outside, get sunshine and fresh air.  Experts agree that going outside and getting sun, fresh air and exercise are important for physical and mental health during this crisis.  Walk in your neighborhood or park while keeping the recommended social distance from others.  Smile and say hello. 
  3. Stay connected with friends virtually. While we can’t meet in person, we can connect in groups through virtual technology like Zoom, Google Hangouts, and others.  Most offer a free option with limited features and it’s a great way to connect family and friends who are spread out. 
  4. Dig out your “if I only had more time” wish list.  So many of us have a list of things we would love to do if we had more time.  Now it is that time! On my list is to organize my basement, hang some curtains and plan my garden.  What’s on yours?
  5. Stay connected to your spiritual community virtually.  Most churches and other spiritual communities have switched to virtual options.  In addition to offering services, prayer sessions, and guided meditations, most are offering phone check-ins to help those who feel isolated.
  6. Create a structure for your day.  The days may start to seem to run together.  Try to create a daily routine and stick to it.  This is important for those working or doing schoolwork from home as well as those who are at home without much to do.  Get up, get dressed and create goals for the day that include self-care.  
  7. Exercise.  Although the gyms are closed, there are other options.  Go outside and walk or jog or ride a bike. Many gyms and yoga studios are also offering online classes.  Gardening and cleaning out the garage are other great ways to stay active. 
  8. Get more sleep.  This is a great time to get more sleep.  With time spent not commuting and so many activities canceled, use the time to sleep.  Sleep is critical to keeping our immune system working well. 
  9. Learn something new.  There are many excellent online learning platforms that offer free classes like Coursera.com where you can take classes from colleges across the country and learn anything from songwriting to advanced science.  If you are suddenly unemployed, there are many online certifications or classes that will help strengthen your resume and bolster your skills until you are rehired. 
  10. Get support if you need it.  If you are feeling anxious, connect with friends, family, clergy or professional support people.  Even with social distancing, therapists and coaches are working virtually and are ready to help.  I am offering a group support workshop to help those who want to connect with others and reduce stress and I know others are doing the same.
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