- April 15, 2020
- Posted by: Hillary Feder
- Category: Well-being
Life today can be challenging with all the changes our newly isolated world presents us with. You’ve shown up at your home office desk with a clear plan and then you find you’ve only accomplished a few of your priorities. Or possibly you or a family member have been furloughed, you are waiting for your unemployment to kick in and searching for your next opportunity is a challenge with a stay-at-home order. No matter what your particular circumstances, this all translates into new and different stresses on your mind and body. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.
As our two-week dance with stay-at-home orders just got longer, having more tools in your tool kit to manage stress, recharge and engage professionally and personally is important. Awareness of these new and different stresses and some self-care are essential to keeping you happy, healthy, and productive. Below are ideas to get you moving in the right direction.
This is the single most important practice to managing stress and enables you to recharge and engage. Take time to quiet the chatter in your mind several times a day. When you wake up, take an extra few extra minutes and breathe deeply. As thoughts about the day pop into your mind, let them go, return to breathing. Mid-day, take a few minutes, close your eyes, relax, sit up straight and put full focus on your breathing: inhale, exhale; inhale, exhale. As you finish your day, take a few minutes and breathe, consider adding some music in the background, let go of any thoughts that arise, focus on your breathing, and quiet your mind.
Enjoy the power in the little things
The first sip of coffee, standing up and stretching when you’ve been sitting, relative quite after boisterous moments with kids, watching something click for your child through distance learning. Find small joys worth being celebrated.
Turn chores into time together
Redistributing some of the work will free time to do fun things together. Whether it’s meal prep together or engaging a child to unload the dishwasher, folding the laundry or cleaning up your garden, everyone working together means more time to play a game, finish a puzzle, take a walk together or connect with others through a written letter, phone call or video chat.
Tune off your devices
Our electronic devices often make us feel like we need to be connected 24/7. All of the noise of social media, checking emails or digital games can wear you out. Set aside time when you aren’t engaging in screen-time of any sort, simply turn off your devices. This is a perfect time to find solitude for yourself or engage with those in your own house.
What are you grateful for today
Take a moment at the end of the day to write down what you are grateful for, what did get accomplished. It could be as simple as your 6-year-old clearing the table after a meal, a colleague completing a stretch assignment and watching them grow or that you made the time for yoga. When we’re stressed, it is easy to focus on everything that is going wrong which makes it even harder to unwind.
A moment of solitude
As little as 10 minutes a day of solitude can help you boost your creative thinking, productivity and clarity. Whether you use this time “alone time” to take a walk, write in a journal, doodle, close your eyes and listen to music or reflect on your goals. If you think you don’t have time to be quietly by yourself and think, you likely need alone time for than ever.
It can be hard to unwind when you keep thinking about the endless to-do list. Get clear on what you need to do by taking a few minutes to make a list. Once you’ve made the list prioritize it. Decide what can get done today, be realistic. The rest let go until tomorrow.
Sleep can have a huge effect on how you feel emotionally and physically. Stress and distractions can wreak havoc with sleep. If that’s the case try a power nap, it can feel like a mini-vacation. 20 minutes will do wonders. Be sure it is short, anything over 30 minutes takes you into deep sleep and makes you feel groggy.
Whether it is gentle movement or a sweaty workout exercise will release endorphins that will boost your mood, great for your mental health, can reduce fatigue and help you be more mindful. You don’t need a gym to get a good work out. Walking, tennis, yoga, running, biking, hiking – the most important thing is moving and building exercise into your routine.
Get a good laugh in…regularly
When was the last time you laughed so hard your stomach ached or your eyes watered…if you can’t remember — it has been too long. Whether you spend a few minutes watching a funny video, listening to hear the conversation of children or being around someone else laughing, laughing can be contagious. A good belly laugh will do wonders to reduce stress, sooth tension, and even improve your immune system.
It is repeated here because it is this most important thing you can do. It is also the simplest, shortest and one of the most restorative activities you can do for yourself. Intentional breathing, slowly and deeply, oxygenates the brain, increases mental clarity and creates a moment of solitude, an essential component for your health and well-being. Try it you will be more productive in your work, with your family and others in your sphere.
Just start to deal with this new stress
This is not an exhaustive list but a starting point on the road to managing stress, recharging and engaging in work, home and play. No single idea, but rather a collection of practices will play a part in engaging in self-care for yourself and those around you so that we can all emerge strong and healthy on the other side of this moment. And remember the behaviors and habits you create at this moment will serve you well long beyond this moment in time.