April is Stress Awareness Month. Let‚Äôs face it, stress levels are incredibly high right now all over the world. For most of us, avoiding stress right now is impossible. But that doesn‚Äôt mean we can‚Äôt take steps to minimize our stress as much as possible. We‚Äôve put together the following keys to keep in mind and practice as we navigate through this period of time.
Acknowledging Your Stress
Being upfront and honest with how you‚Äôre feeling is the first step to managing stress. Over the past month or so, our lives have been totally upended due to COVID-19. Normal things we used to do such as going to work, buying groceries, visiting friends and family or being around people in general, is now considered to be potentially dangerous. How can you NOT get stressed out by this? It‚Äôs okay, you‚Äôre not alone. You‚Äôre not the only one trying to balance a work-from-home schedule while raising kids. You‚Äôre not the only one who feels distracted and not as productive. This is normal, and it‚Äôs okay. This is new to all of us. Take it one day at a time.
Practice Social Media Distancing
It‚Äôs normal to want to stay on top of everything that‚Äôs happening. Social media is usually the fastest and most up-to-date way to get the news. At the same time, social media can be the #1 stress inducer with its scary news headlines and commentary from people with varying opinions. While it is important to stay informed, it‚Äôs best to do so in small doses. I try to limit my time on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. I‚Äôll pop in every few hours to see the latest headlines, skip the commentary and go about my day. Whatever you do, try not to linger. But not all social media leads to a rabbit hole of despair. For me, Instagram tends to be a lot more positive and can be a healthy distraction. Sometimes seeing pictures of random animals and tuning in to celebrity live streams is just what you need to take your mind off things.
Improve Your Eating Habits
Since we‚Äôre all spending a lot more time at home, it‚Äôs a good time to try to improve our eating habits. If you‚Äôre like me, you are preparing meals at home. The good thing about this is we have 100% control over what we cook and how we cook it. Try to reduce the amount of foods you eat that are high in sugar, sodium, processed carbs and caffeine. These kinds of foods are known to increase cortisol levels. Cortisol is not inherently bad, but too much of it can cause problems. Try to replace these with fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts and yogurt. You don‚Äôt have to drop all your favorite foods cold turkey, but remember moderation is key.
Set Aside Personal Time
Personal time is a moment where it‚Äôs all about you. Take this time to do whatever you want in the situation you‚Äôre in. Catch up on some TV, do some yard work, practice a craft or take a socially responsible walk. When you‚Äôre dealing with your mental health, it‚Äôs okay to be a little bit selfish. Remember, your mental health ties into your physical health. They are equally important.
Even if you manage to accomplish just one of these tasks, your stress levels will be improved. Gradually work these into your everyday routine. We can‚Äôt control what‚Äôs going on outside, but by taking care of yourself, you‚Äôll be better prepared for whatever is thrown at you next.