Managing stress during COVID-19

The current difficulties to find new life-order during COVID-19 can potentially create huge amounts of stress and worry. In these unprecedented times, it is more important than ever look after our mental health and do what we can to reduce the impact of stress on our body, mind and spirit. Stress is not only a mental health related problem, but also reduces our immunity and can lead to many physical illnesses as well. So doing what we can to reduce and prevent stress is paramount, now more than ever before.

What can I do to look after myself during isolation?

We would like to offer some mental health wellness tips that we hope are helpful to all during this isolation period.

1. Try to keep to a routine, sleeping and waking at reasonable times, eating at regular intervals and keeping well hydrated. Eating and stress do not mix well, and we can often find ourselves losing our appetite, over-indulging for forgetting to eat. Finding some time in your daily routine for movement, ideally at least 30 minutes per day, will also help.

2. Stay connected. Reach out to family and friends via phone, FaceTime, Skype, Zoom and text messages to seek and provide support.

3. Develop your individual self-care toolkit. This could include ideas such as journaling, colouring-in, reading, exercise, meditation, yoga, diaphragmatic breathing, spending time in nature, dancing, humour, listening to music, mindfulness and other relaxation techniques. Self-care looks different for everyone, so find the things that work for you.

4. Feeling restricted or being ‘cooped up’ can bring out the worst in yourself and others, so it is important to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Assume everyone is doing the best that they can in these difficult times and be gracious and patient while we work through this.

5. Practice self-acceptance – accepting everything about yourself, this situation and how you are coping. Lower the expectations you have of yourself and do not compare yourself to others. Especially what you see others sharing on social media. You are doing the best that you can and that is all that is needed.

6. Limit COVID conversation and social media. There is so much out there and it is often negatively skewed and sensationalized. Be vigilant not to let it consume you by limiting checking in with media to a few times a day. It is especially important to limit this around children.

7. Take one day at a time, moment by moment. Focus on bite-sized chunks of time that are manageable for you. Pace yourself and remind yourself there is no road map and that this is temporary.

The prevention strategy is always the same: doing what we can to remove the inner reactivity and replacing this with awareness. We have an excellent remote learning solution available that teaches the intrapersonal skills to secure a calm mind, so please reach out if we can be of any help to you or your team during this time.

As we navigate this challenging time, we need to bring awareness to the things we can do to safeguard our wellbeing. This time will pass and we will return to being connected, safe, free and busy in the days ahead.

Rebekah Dawson is an Organisational Psychologist and works for Progress People in corporate wellbeing. If you would like further information or if you are interested in accessing a free 30-minute online training session on stress reduction, please click here.

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