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Managing Stress

Managing Your Stress During the COVID-19 Crisis

Cary Silverstein

There are some simple steps you can take during this crisis to protect your mental health, while upping your networking game. After researching this topic online and speaking with a number of experienced behavioral professionals, I will summarize a number of strategies that will assist in reducing your stress levels during this period of quarantine and beyond.

  1. Move Every Day…It is important that you find some way to exercise in your home or apartment each day. If you have the ability to leave your home, then walk, bike or run. If you have a pool in your home, swim each day. Exercise of any type will cause your brain to release endorphins and reduce your stress levels. Consider “exercise snacks”, multiple short periods of activity of fifteen minutes or more during the day.
     
  2. Practice Mindfulness…Meditation is an accepted form of mindfulness along with Yoga and Pilates. Focusing on the positive in your life and being thankful is important for your mood. Ridding yourself of the negative thoughts that may be brought on by the media blitz is important to maintain a positive outlook during this period of isolation. Fifteen minutes of focused thought and introspection along with deep breathing will reduce your stress level. With meditation, “practice makes perfect”. The same approach is true with Yoga. Hang in there and commit to the exercise.

    Consider using the PAUSE approach. Close your eyes and slowly say out loud Pause. Then slowly imagine it spelled out in your mind and take slow breaths as you imagine each letter and then repeat. Then after a few minutes add in deep muscle relaxation techniques (tighten/release).

     
  3. Eat Well…While home, your refrigerator is readily available, but you need to stick to a regular eating schedule. Be aware that since your level of physical activity has been reduced, you will gain weight if you don’t adjust your intake of calories. When ordering form a local eatery, order healthy entrees. Plan your menus with a focus on introducing portion control. Organize your grocery orders on a weekly basis, so that you have sufficient healthy options. Include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. It is important to manage your alcohol intake. Wine and liquor are depressants and could worsen your mood.
     
  4. Set a healthy sleep schedule…Do your best to commit to a set schedule of bed and wake-up time. Be sure to avoid extensive screen time before bedtime. There is proven research that demonstrates that the “blue screen” effect of the computer or television stimulates the brain and negatively impacts the ability to fall asleep.
     
  5. Retain Old Habits…As mentioned in the Zoom LCEN meeting, “make your bed” each morning. Shower, put on make-up or shave as if you would be going to work. Dress for success each day. Your schedule should mirror your actual work schedule, where possible. This will provide continuity for when your re-enter the workforce. You need to be ready for the next Zoom or video interview and make a positive impression.
     
  6. Create Meaningful New Habits…We are witnessing a “new normal” a new reality. Here is an opportunity to “reinvent” yourself and acquire new habits. Increase your interactions with family and friends via email, text or Zoom. Cook that new recipe, write that poem or story that has been whirling around in your head for years. Finish that scrapbook or learn to knit a sweater for a grandchild. Now you have the time, learn a new skill. All you need is the motivation.
     
  7. Connect With Others… Stay socially connected even with physical separation and write that letter to an old friend that you have been considering for a time. I have attended Zoom birthday parties and have read books to my great-grandchildren on Caribu. Facetime your children and grandchildren, it will bring joy to you and them during this period of sadness. Consider reaching out to others, a friend or relative you have been thinking about, but haven’t called.
     
  8. Reframe Any Negative Thoughts…This is not the time to “wallow” in the negativity of the isolation. Reduce your time watching cable news and realize that in the long-term we will all come out of this crisis stronger. If you can’t stop or interrupt this cycle of negative thinking, it is time to engage a professional. Many therapists are using Tele Med and other video services to conduct confidential therapy sessions. It may be time to reach out to a professional for help. Your general practitioner can refer you to a psychologist or certified therapist.
     
  9. Create a Gratitude List…Think about what you are grateful for and write down and describe why you are grateful. In some cases, if some one has done something special for you, reach out and let them know.
     
  10. Make a Difference… Lastly, do something each day that will make you feel better as a person. Donate to a local food pantry, make a donation to a non-profit who is helping the poor and disadvantaged. Check on seniors in your church or synagogue by calling them to verify their status. Find out if they need food, medicine, or other supplies. You may be asked to drop off a meal or some supplies that would make their lives better. If we each do a little, it will have a large impact.
     

Stay home, stay safe and healthy.

Mon, August 10 2020 20 Av 5780