Wow, 2020 has been a year hasn't it ?! I'm guessing that if you take to the streets ( Maintaining 6 feet and wearing you mask of course) and poll people going about how they are doing in 2020, 99% of them are going to at some point say something about the current state of the world and inevitably the current COVID pandemic will come up.
It's all people are talking about isn't it ? With no judgement from me as I am in the same boat. If asked about my life since March of 2020 I would quickly bring up the pandemic, business and financial uncertainty and increase in stress that has been in my life the last few months.
The constant talk about all of the stresses of the world though are creating an ever building pattern in most people's lives. The more we talk about how stressed out we are..........The more stressed we become. It's circular. Proven. Inevitable.
We need to do our part as a society of course that should go without saying, but how do we try to cope with all of the stress that so many have in dealing with something most of us are fortunate to not have lived through before ?
I've come up with a few things that have really helped me deal with the stresses this pandemic. They've helped to centre me and when I do them bring me a sense of calm and peace.
Here they are.
Gratitude Journal- Write down 5 things that you are grateful for in your life. Be specific. For example if you have an amazing support system around you write that down. Not just the unspecific "grateful for an amazing support system", but a very specific " I am grateful for (insert name or names) and the support they offered me when I reached out this week about about ( specific issue). They validated my feelings and I truly felt heard. I now have a clear path or direction to go in. If you are pressed for time then shorten it up but don't skip this step because it has a way of instantly changing your attitude and outlook on the day. The more negative you feel the more gratitude you need to show. This one will be worth revisiting in the future so you'll hear more about this I'm sure ;)
Breathe Work- Have you ever stopped or become aware when you are anxious or stressed out the way you are breathing. Become aware of holding your breath or breathing very shallow? It's totally normal to do this especially in crisis situations. The problem is that we get used to shallow breathing being normal and end up in a more stressed out state because of it.
Do yourself a favor.
Stop what you are doing for 60 seconds and close your eyes.
Become aware of your breathing.
Now, concentrate on filling your belly up as you inhale. Don't worry about holding in that tummy, trust me nobody notices that but you !
Breathe in slowly, filling that belly with air counting to 10. When you get to 10 hold your breathe for another 5 seconds then slowly let your breathe back out counting to 10 again. It's my 10-5-10 breathing method to calm down, and it works!
Exercise- Okay before you start groaning hear me out...... exercise releases endorphins, endorphins make you happy and happy people just don't k.. .......ok ok. Even without the legally blonde (One of my all time favorite female power movies as a teenager) references you get where I'm going with this. Endorphins give us that natural high feeling, and funny enough ,we end up with more energy, better sleep, and are better equipped to deal with stress.
Do yourself a favor and download your favorite podcast , get some ear buds and get moving. I go between yoga and the treadmill, but have mostly been doing treadmill because my workplace has one in front of a nice, bright window and I go without fail every noon hour. I don't have to worry about weather that way and have a ton of energy for the afternoon. Although side note if you work with me I will most likely look slightly more unkempt after noon #sorrynotsorry #Itiswhatitis
Sleep(Bedtime routine) - This is last but should have probably been first on the list. So I am talking about both quality and quantity here.
You need both.
This is not new or groundbreaking but needs to be said as so many aren't doing it.
Make sure you are getting the sufficient amount your body needs. Some need 6 hours and some need 8 or 9 but consistency here matters. Establish a bed time routine that you follow every night. Turn on some relaxing music an hour or so before while you are getting ready for bed. Make yourself a cup of tea ( Make sure it's not caffeinated)
Put on something cozy , some warm socks or slippers, a plushy robe. You get the idea.
Wash your face and do your nighttime skin care routine.
Side Note. We are not 20, we need to take off that makeup........Yep, every.....single..... night. No excuses. Girl don't even get me started lol.
Try to not use your computer or phone for the last couple hours before bed. If you can leave your phone outside of your bedroom.
Make sure your room is dark but not stuffy. You may even want to run a fan on low starting an hour or so before bed to get that air circulating .
Don't talk about things that are stressful too close to bed.
Keep the zen train rolling once it's started baby !
Get Outdoors- OK yes you are probably thinking back to my push of exercise right about now and the part that I said about exercising indoors to avoid the weather. Well I stand by that statement 100% because I like work out on my lunch , but I am a huge fan of outdoor time in all weather. Buy the outdoor gear to suit the situation and activity and you won't regret it. There is no bad weather , just bad clothing after all.
With all of the current mask wearing getting some fresh air has never been more important. Aim for a minimum of 15 mins a day. Take a quick walk, trim some shrubs, clean up some leaves, you get the idea. Just get out there !
In all seriousness anxiety and stress in these times are real. If you feel like your stuck reach out to someone to talk and don't ever be afraid to ask for help. You are never alone.
Stay safe, Calm , and be kind.