Wednesday, June 24, 2020

How to Deal With Pandemic-Related Stress

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, it’s no surprise that so many people are struggling with heightened levels of stress. In a new world of self-isolation and mandatory quarantine, adjusting to a life with little socialization can be very stressful. Furthermore, with so little information about vaccines and hopes for the future, not knowing what to expect moving forward can create even more anxiety. With this in mind, it’s no wonder that many people are experiencing pandemic-related stress. Addressing mental health challenges in constructive ways is important. To combat anxiety, here are a few things you can do:

Keep Connected
Humans are, by nature, social creatures. Numerous studies have demonstrated the importance of social interactions on mental health. But with unprecedented levels of isolation, more people are struggling to adjust to a lifestyle that lacks physical communication. However, rather than retreat, it’s important to prioritize a digital connection as best as possible. This goes beyond the standard Facetime call; with the outbreak of the coronavirus, there are more tools than ever to help individuals stay connected in fun and meaningful ways.

For instance, with the mobile application House Party, you can video conference while playing a variety of games. And with the Chrome application Netflix Party, you can watch movies with your friends and family with synchronized viewings. For larger gatherings, use Zoom or a similar platform to bring everyone together.

Seek Therapy
Therapy is one of the most effective ways to help manage stress, anxiety, and depression. According to Alan Behrman, a therapist in Alpharetta, therapy can not only help you discover the key elements contributing to your stress (both consciously and subconsciously), but can also help you practice ways of coping. Because of quarantine, finding an in-person appointment may be difficult, but there are many therapists offering video sessions, and apps like Talkspace help streamline this.

Find Laughter
You may have heard of the old adage, “Laughter is the best medicine.” If you’ve ever been in a negative mood and found yourself lifted when you laugh, chances are you understand why. Laughter stimulates the lungs, brain, and heart, which ultimately releases endorphins in the brain. Even for a brief moment, laughter can relieve the body’s stress response.

Explore Hobbies
Spending so much time in the home can leave you feeling rested, and cabin fever can settle in quickly. These feelings of uneasiness can easily build up stress hormones. Because of this, it’s important for you to explore past hobbies or take up a hobby you’ve been interested in but never got around to making happen.

Doing so can help bring passion back into your life, and it’s something that many people have already begun to explore since stay-at-place orders have been announced. Research has shown that more and more people are putting dollars into hobbies, and arts and crafts and cooking supply demand has increased significantly. Whether you’ve always wanted to write a book or learn to bake, now is a great time to start exploring some of those passion projects.

Practice Gratitude
With so much negativity happening in the news each day, it’s important to start to practice gratitude. It’s natural to start to feel grief over the loss of your normal lifestyles and routines, but in a seemingly unending cycle of bad news, it’s more important than ever to learn to appreciate the good things that are happening.

For instance, perhaps now that you’ve been in isolation more, you’ve gotten to spend more time with family that you wouldn’t have otherwise. According to research, people who practice gratitude regularly sleep better, experience more positive emotions, and even have stronger immune systems.

One of the best ways to do this is by using a gratitude journal. A gratitude journal helps us better perceive the world around us and what we choose to focus on. Over time, it shifts the lens we look out of with each day. This is pretty straightforward; the idea is to keep a regular recording of the things you’re grateful for, whether it’s one item daily or five items weekly. It’s important that you don’t just go through the motion; rather than just writing to complete a task item, really think about what and why you’re grateful.

Try to keep a healthy balance between the things that you’re grateful for and the people that you’re grateful. And where possible, get specific. Another way to express gratitude is to begin expressing your thoughts and feelings to others.

This is a guest blog entry.

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