A global pandemic, rising death rates, crashing economy, social isolation, fear, uncertainty. If nothing else, this coronavirus outbreak can certainly be stress and anxiety-inducing. And stressing out about the outbreak can actually weaken your immune system, thus making you more susceptible to the very infection which is causing you stress. Now more than ever it is important that you learn stress management techniques, so today I'm going to give you five tips on how to manage stress during the coronavirus outbreak.
5 Stress Management Techniques
1. Social Innings
Social interaction is one of the best ways to combat stress and to manage anxiety and depression, but during this coronavirus outbreak we've been advised to have social isolation, social distancing, self-containment, and this does create a barrier to our social interactions. Now, for our safety, we've been told not to have social outings, but no one said that we couldn't have 'social innings'. You can arrange 'social innings' by having a virtual video chat with friends and loved ones.
What you do is you set a time, you set a date, and you have a video chat via Zoom, FaceTime, or Google Duo. And on that video chat, you do whatever it is that you normally would have done with that person face-to-face, to the best of your ability, because... anyway, here's what I did for one of my 'social innings'.
It was with one of my best friends. We've been friends since we were 17 years old and she's the godmother of my oldest child. Now normally we'd get together for lunch, for dinner pretty regularly, but during this coronavirus outbreak we can't do this, so what do we do? We arranged a 'social inning'.
We set the time, 7:30 p.m., the day, Friday night, the atmosphere, we were having a happy hour with appetizers and tapas. And we had a reminder. She sent me this ridiculous looking emoji about five minutes before time to start and we literally had a FaceTime call. Then we sat there we ate, we drank, we laughed, we had good adult interaction via the video chat and it was a wonderful way to relieve stress. So, yes, we are in a coronavirus outbreak, but one virus doesn't stop this show.
2. Make A Schedule
You want to have a routine. You don't want to sit around in your pajamas all day and you definitely don't want to neglect your personal hygiene. And so in order to manage stress, you need to make a schedule, you need to have a wake-up time, a time for breakfast, an exercise routine, a time for doing chores, and getting things done around the house. If you're working from home, plan your work. If you need to have social interaction, and you know that you do, plan the social interaction. Make yourself a routine.
Now, you don't have to be absolutely rigid and have the super perfect routine, but you do need some type of a schedule, some type of an outline because if you don't, you can mess up your sleep/wake cycle. You can become sleep deprived. And the sleep deprivation can lead to increased adrenaline, increased cortisol, increased stress, and it can weaken your immune system and cause a whole sequela of problems. So, tip number two on how to manage stress during the coronavirus outbreak, make a schedule.
Question: How many of you feel like you have a pretty good coronavirus outbreak schedule, and you think your routine is working? If so, please share it with us. Comment down below.
3. Exercise To Reduce Stress
Exercise is an excellent stress-relieving technique because when you exercise, you decrease stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol and you actually increase your body's endorphins. The endorphins are those neurotransmitters or those brain chemicals that act like natural painkillers and natural mood elevators. So when you exercise, you can't help but manage your stress. Even if you don't have time to do the typical 30 minute or greater workout, if you're able to squeeze in just five minutes of cardiovascular activity, studies show that it can help to manage your stress. You can do just about any form of exercise to help to reduce stress. You can go for a walk, you can jog, you can do yoga, you can dance, or you can even do kickboxing. Exercise is absolutely a great way to manage stress during the coronavirus outbreak, but it's also a way to stay healthy and happy year-round. Be sure to download my free PDF on "10 Healthy Habits For A Better You And A Better Life."
Question: How many of you find that it is actually easier to exercise now that you are having this forced family time and you're in social isolation? Let me know. Comment down below.
4. How To Manage Stress During the Coronavirus Outbreak? Control What You Can Control.
Control what you can control. Now, you can not control the news. You can't control, as an individual, the global numbers of the coronavirus cases, you can't control the death rates that keep changing of COVID-19 victims, and you certainly, by yourself, you cannot control what's going on with the economy, or the stock market. And so if you sit there and inundate yourself with the news all day, with social media all day, then you will inevitably be overwhelmed and you will be stressed. So control what you can control.
So what do you need to do? You need to limit the amount of time that you watch the news and that you're on the internet, googling coronavirus, COVID-19 because if you are on these search engines and you are looking up the worst-case scenario, guess what? These search engines, like Google, are very good at what they do. So if you search for the worst-case scenario of the COVID-19 and the worst-case scenario of the economy, your retirement plan, or the stock market, you're going to find the absolute worst-case scenario even if it's unlikely. And what's that going to do? It's going to stress you out.
You're going to think about it over and over again and you cannot control it. So now you have stress over things that are out of your control. You need to control what you can control in order to manage stress. Here's what you do. You limit your time with the news and social media. Yes, you want to stay informed, and so you need to check in with a reputable news source once or maybe twice a day, that's it.
And you control other things you can control like the good advice that you're given. You can control how many times you wash your hands and control using hand sanitizer after you touch surfaces. You can control not shaking people's hands and social distancing. You can control moving your body and exercising and taking care of home projects like cleaning out your closet.
Control what you can control as a way to manage stress during the coronavirus outbreak. That being said, if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, particularly obsessive-compulsive disorder, then me telling you, control your thoughts, is not that simple, I understand that. Make sure that you check in with your mental healthcare provider and you find the best strategies for you to manage your anxiety and your stressing over things during the coronavirus outbreak. And this goes for anyone who already has a diagnosis of a mental health disorder. Make sure you continue to take your medications if you're on medications, and that you continue to check in with your mental healthcare provider.
5. Positive Self-Reflections As A Stress Management Technique
Positive self-reflections. At the end of each day, I want you to look in the mirror and tell yourself everything that went well that day. Tell yourself everything that you did right and that will help to manage stress and really give you a positive outlook on things. Also, be sure to keep a gratitude journal. Be thankful. It's easy for us to feel sorry for ourselves and to get frustrated in these times of social isolation, but I want you to keep things in perspective. Be thankful, be grateful.
Be thankful that you have a home, if you have a home, be thankful for running water, for food to eat. Be thankful for loved ones and some of this forced family time. I know it may seem a bit simple, but it really helps you to keep things in perspective and it helps you to keep from building up these stress hormones, and it helps you to manage your stress.
Make sure you remember that even though we're being asked to have social isolation, social distancing from each other, we are being asked to stay pulled apart so that we can one day stand together. So tip number five on how to manage stress during the coronavirus outbreak, positive self-reflections.
I hope you find these stress management techniques helpful. And if you are a person who is very stressed, very anxious, or feeling even more depressed during these times, be sure to reach out to your physician and your mental healthcare provider. Also, here are links to useful hotlines for support systems during this time.
- Call 911
- Visit Disaster Preparedness, Response, and Recovery, call 1-800-985-5990, or text TalkWithUs to 66746
- Visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline, or call 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224