Who has not felt at least some level of extra stress during the past 2-3 years? By that I’m referring to the pandemic (COVID-19), etc. While it is normal to feel stress, some of us have been feeling much more than a little extra stress. So, we may be experiencing feelings of fear, sadness, worry, anger, frustration, and even feeling numb – something we often do when things seem out of our direct control, and we don’t know how to cope.
Other things that might have happened are that our appetites have changed (i.e., we are eating more or less than usual), our energy levels may be skewed, and we may have trouble concentrating (count me in on that one) and making decisions. Others have experienced disruptions in their sleep patterns, and we might have stress reactions in our physical bodies such as pain, headaches, tummy issues, skin break-outs, etc.
Others have decided to numb out with alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
But what we want you to do is learn and use healthy coping mechanisms. Some helpful tips are to take breaks from the news, and especially social media if it’s stressing you out. Eat a healthy diet and lay low on the junky foods (you know which ones I’m talking about) unless you have access to healthfully prepared “junk foods.”
New terminology has emerged in the wake of the many crises we are facing (not just the pandemic but other heavy hitters like the war in the Ukraine, the riot at the Capitol, always the wildfires, tornadoes, school shootings, etc.) We’re hearing about crisis fatigue, long COVID fatigue, allostatic load, and so on.
If you’re up on such interventions which are good at calming the sympathetic nervous system (and thus they calm us down), then you know deep breathing, meditation, and other mindfulness techniques have been proven to work well. For example, yoga is very well researched and is definitely a great practice.
Other tips are making sure you don’t feel isolated from others, especially if you are working from home. Get yourself outside and move! Movement is healthy for the body, mind, heart, and soul! Perhaps contributing to the betterment of your community will be a calming and healing exercise if you are so inclined. Volunteerism is also well researched and creates a healthy influenced on a stressed individual.
Make time for R&R – schedule it in if you must! You need balance in your life. So, build ways to relax and interact with others in a positive manner right into your schedule.
In the face of danger, our brains go into fight or flight mode, and we may feel an adrenaline rush. While this is helpful short-term, long-term stress is another matter. The pandemic is now long-term, and you may feel yourself going numb (see above).
Now it seems like the end may be in sight, and our brains may be calming down more. So more mental processing is taking place. There has been a great deal of devastation and loss during the last two and a half years. You may be grieving. So, it’s time to focus on the healing process. Be nice and understanding to yourself, as you would to others – give yourself some time to adjust. If called for, get support, and help from friends, family, and professionals.
Pay special attention to self-care things like eating healthy, staying hydrated, getting better quality rest and sleep, re-establish healthy daily routines, and take relaxation breaks throughout the day. Listen to what your body, heart, and soul are saying to you.
It’s not surprising that our relationships with others – especially close loved ones – have likely also taken a hit during these times. We may still be reminded of the warnings about the risks of being in closer proximity and leaving our homes. This may be especially heightened if you have some serious health concerns, are on heavy medication, or maybe you have a compromised immune system.
Some helpful tips for this are to take time to connect with friends, family, and other loved ones. Being present when together – really paying attention and listening to them – is always important, but even more so now. Try to limit distracting calls, etc. when visiting. While you are listening to others in full attention mode, also share openly and honestly how you are feeling and let others help you. So many of us are comfortable in the giving role, but not as much in the receiving role – so practice. It’s just as important.
If some of your relationships are unhealthy, try to find viable solutions to them either by distancing or perhaps getting therapy on how to handle them better.
It’s important to stay in touch with close friends, family, etc. I can’t emphasize this enough. We can email, write letters, text, have virtual calls, and now we can finally be together again unhindered. If you’ve been out of touch, it’s time to re-connect.
I will end here for now, although I could go on and on!
And remember, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.