As the new coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread, health organizations strongly recommend practicing social distancing and staying home as much as possible. During a time of high stress and abnormality, it can be difficult to remain mindful and stress-free.
Sarah Lane, an exercise physiologist and wellness coach at Rochester Regional Health’s Wellness Center, gives guidance on maintaining wellness and reducing stress while at home and out of your regular routine.
There is a lot of uncertainty in our current climate. People are experiencing changes in their routines and are staying in their homes much more than they’re used to. This can add stress and lower emotional wellness.
“Everybody has so many unknowns that it leads to being anxious and overwhelmed,” said coach Sarah. “It’s important to form new habits, especially since most people have been taken out of their routine.”
Here are a few simple ways Sarah says you can form new habits and manage stress.
Take breaks from watching the news and using your phone
Constantly monitoring the news or scrolling through social media can mentally drain you. Turning off the TV and taking breaks from your phone will allow for some much-needed quiet time.
“Give yourself a ‘time out’ from all of the current information. Focus on something else to give your mind a break,” advises Sarah.
Create a daily routine
Losing the structure of a daily schedule can cause disorientation in many, Sarah explains. Taking the time to plan out each day and making it a point to stick to that plan can reduce stress.
“Make sure you get ready for the day and pull yourself together in the morning. Scheduling a time to eat each meal is another good way to maintain some consistency in your day-to-day life.”
Give structure to your day by:
Reintroduce old hobbies
Since most people have been taken out of their regular habits, reforming old ones can help fill the time. Since you’re staying home, now is a great time to get back into activities that have been left behind because of your busy schedule.
Remember the things that are important
During a time of so much uncertainty, it’s helpful to prioritize what truly matters, says Sarah.
“Sit down and think about what is most important to you right at this moment. For many, it is that their family is safe. Thinking about those things and writing them down is a helpful way to avoid dwelling on something that is out of our control.”
Practice breathing techniques
Take a moment to take five to ten deep breaths and clear any flooding thoughts you may have. Focusing on steady and deep breathing can refresh the mind and reduce clutter that generates anxiety.
When creating a daily routine, setting aside time for physical movement benefits mental wellness and reduces stress.
“People who are stuck at home are probably not getting in their normal steps for the day. Someone who usually gets up from their desk and walks down the hall to use the bathroom may now only venture 20 feet.”
Sarah provides a few ways to keep moving:
Whether or not yoga is a new experience for you, practicing it helps with stress reduction and physical wellness. There are plenty of online yoga classes and videos available for you to explore.
“Keep in mind that there are many different kinds of yoga,” Sarah says. “There is yoga meant for pure relaxation and restoration, yoga focused on basic stretching, and yoga that is more vigorous and challenging. Picking the right level and being aware that beginners should start simple is important.”
Yoga is about being present in the moment. Remain focused on how the pose feels within your body and where your body is positioned. Focusing on this will take your mind off other things.
Being stuck in the house leads to a lot of free time that can become monotonous. Avoid sitting around all day and try something new.
“Make it a point to have a highlight to each day. Do something different from the day before so when you reflect on the day you remember something fun or significant that you did.”
Activities that can brighten your day:
You may in live in a household with multiple other people. It’s important to be sure that everyone has the space and time they need to stay healthy and well.
“Communicate with those in your house to ensure that everyone gets what they need. If mom needs the living room to take an online exercise class make sure you allow her that space and time. Don’t forget to ask for that time yourself, either.”
Don’t get stuck spending several days sitting on the couch watching the news, explains Sarah.
Taking breaks from the same activities helps towards maintaining wellness. Paying too much attention to the media can harm well-being and overall happiness.
“Don’t believe everything you hear or see. Validate a few credible sources and stick to those,” recommends Sarah.
Remember not to form unhealthy habits during a time of high stress. Drinking too much will only be harmful and should be avoided. Look for positive outlets to release fear and stress and don’t let them take over.
“Allow yourself a moment to feel what you feel. Sit in your room and cry for a minute, but don’t dwell on it. It is okay to acknowledge that this is hard and scary, but don’t get trapped in that place.”
Be aware that there are ways to virtually connect with therapists and counselors. Seek help if it becomes too overwhelming.
Don’t forget that every person in your community is experiencing a similar situation. No one is immune to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Finding ways to check on others and help them can have personal benefits.
“Respect each other and consider their feelings. Everyone is perceiving the situation differently. Remind your loved ones that you care about them and are there for them if they need you.”
Most importantly, take time to reflect on your well-being. Be sure to be present and mindful about what is going on with yourself and around you. Communicating openly and being honest with yourself are essential to the well-being of everyone.
Continue to take measures where you are taking care of yourself, take appropriate breaks, and get out of the house for a little sunshine.Know the Facts of COVID-19
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