We are currently living in an unprecedented time of anxiety and stress. The pandemic that is COVID-19 has lead to a great deal of overwhelm, which is negatively affecting our daily lives.
And while the CDC continues to recommend safety precautions like hand washing, social distancing, limiting exposure to large groups, limited travel, and so on. We must also focus on taking care of ourselves emotionally.
Your ability to remain healthy is also directly connected to your ability to manage your stress and overwhelm.
Below is a list of healthy coping skills that you can start to implement to ensure that you manage your emotional health as much as you are managing the germs around you!
- Get Outside – Yes, it’s been recommended that we stay home when we can, but that does not mean that you need to be completely housebound. Fresh air and exercise are essential to your mental and physical health, so make an effort to get outside 20-30 minutes a day. You can walk around your neighborhood, find a trail close by, walk on the beach, do yoga in your yard. The activity doesn’t matter as much as you getting out and moving around.
- Limit Screen Time – Of course, you need to pay attention to the ever-changing details of this pandemic, but you also need to limit your engagement with the news and social media. As news outlets continue to report updates and changes, continually monitoring of the situation will only increase your anxiety and stress, leaving you overwhelmed. So make a plan to check your phone/TV at certain times of day (i.e., in the morning, at lunch, and after dinner) and then do your best to shut it down and focus on other tasks.
- Limit Alcohol Intake – There is a lot of chatter out there about needing wine, vodka, tequila, etc. to get through this, and while some of that is playful chatter, some of it is not. It is well known that alcohol is a depressant, and increasing your alcohol consumption during a time of stress will only exacerbate your symptoms/emotions. If you feel the need to have a drink, first ask yourself why (What am I feeling?). Next ask yourself if there is an alternative coping skill you can implement (i.e., I want a drink because I want to feel less anxious. Instead I could stretch, go for a walk, play with my kids, read a book, have a kitchen dance party, etc.) Making healthy choices to cope with your emotions will help keep them regulated.
- Get Some Sleep – Netflix binging, increased anxiety, working late due to lack of childcare during the day, etc. will all interfere with your sleep routine. Sleep, however, is vital to your health during a time of high anxiety and stress and overwhelm. So make an effort to practice good sleep hygiene right now. For example, pick a bedtime and about 30-60 minutes to that bedtime, start to take steps to prepare for your body and mind for sleep (i.e., turn off the news, shut down social media, take a bath, read a book, cuddle with your partner).
- Ask For Help – If you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, or fearful, identify help in your day to day life would help you better cope. For example, do you need help with childcare? Do you need a break from being home with your kids all day? Do you need your husband to make dinner? Do you need someone to clean the house? Do you need time to yourself? Your life has likely been turned upside down these past few days, and asking for help is a critical step in managing your stress and overwhelm.
- Let Go – Remember that you are doing your best. You are the best wife, mom, employee, friend, etc. that you can be. There will be days over the next few weeks that are too much. You will break down, you will forget to bring the hand sanitizer to the park, you will run out of groceries and toilet paper, you will drop the ball somewhere, and that is ok. Rather than beating yourself up, identify all that you ARE managing!
- Take Care of You! – You are the hub of your family. Your mental and physical health is critical. If you are burning the candle at both ends, drinking too much, not getting enough fresh air and exercise, are glued to your phone, avoid all social interaction, stay up too late working, are yelling at your children more than usual, than you are going to break. To prevent a melt-down, implement the steps above and make an effort to do a little something that feeds your soul, decreases your overwhelm, brings you joy, makes you happy, makes you laugh, centers you, grounds you, or quiets the noise, DAILY!