In a very formal Instagram survey 😉 (via @sarahconleydarby) I asked people if they were feeling more stress/anxiety right now than usual and 79% said yes. Additionally, 35% said they have experienced income loss since COVID-19 began and 41% of my friends who are moms said they are expected to work from home while also caring for children at home. Many of us are navigating so many new challenges right now … and we are TIRED.
This past Wednesday, I invited my friend and Licensed Professional Counselor, Desi Teague, to join me for a Facebook Live conversation about managing stress during the chaos of quarantine– watch a replay of our discussion HERE. In the video, I shared three strategies for navigating feelings of overwhelm and uncertainty and promised to send others to my email friends – so here you go! I will send part two with even more tips and tricks next week, so stay tuned…
1. Ask the MAGIC question
“What would make me feel like a person right now?” Ask yourself this everyday – as many times a day as you need to! – and do that thing. That could be a nap, a walk or run, a shower, make up, an adult beverage, coffee, calling a friend, asking your spouse or partner to take over with kids, a long drive. Whatever makes you feel like YOU, do it.
2. Let go
Do what you can and let go of what you can’t. Everything that is happening in the world right now is out of our control. And that’s the part that feels suffocating, right? It’s important to be honest with yourself about what you are feeling so that you CAN move on. It’s ok to feel disappointed, grief over what you have lost and fear about the future. Name it and feel it so that you can keep moving forward.
3. Soak up the sun
Nature has healing properties and getting outside can help ease a bad mood or calm anxious feelings. Whether you take a long walk in the trees, a leisurely beach stroll, or spend time on a scenic park bench, spending time in the sun can help foster a feeling of peace.
An estimated 1 billion people worldwide have vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency. Deficiency of vitamin D has significant medical and psychological consequences. Every tissue in the body has vitamin D receptors, including the brain, heart, muscles, and immune system, which means vitamin D is needed at every level for the body to function. vitamin D activates genes that regulate the immune system and release neurotransmitters (e.g., dopamine, serotonin) that affect brain function and development. Researchers have found vitamin D receptors on a handful of cells located in regions in the brain-the same regions that are linked with depression.
Several studies have suggested that the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder may be due to changing levels of vitamin D3, which likely affect serotonin levels in the brain.
Although researchers are still unsure of how vitamin D is linked with depression, there is plenty of research to support the role of vitamin D in the pathophysiology of depression and as a potential treatment for depression.
Quite simply: get outside! And take a vitamin D supplement.
4. Commit to regular exercise
Making time for regular sweat sessions helps your body reduce the mental and physical impact of stress. If frustration is building, take a high-energy exercise class to help you sweat out pent up emotions, which can have a calming effect. Yoga is also another common way to cope with stress through physical movement and stretching.
Personally, I love my Peloton bike. I love the freedom to ride anytime and the multitude of non-cycling options available in the app. (My referral code will get you $100 off and I’m happy to share the love – just ask!)
If you are missing the social aspect of exercise, you can find creative ways to exercise with friends. My sister/sisters-in-law have a daily group workout session via FaceTime and it’s so encouraging to get stronger together!
It’s awesome to see lots of people and families outside walking together. It’s one of my favorite quarantine observations.
5. Stay connected
Several studies have proven that we were already socially isolated before COVID19, but during this time in our lives, we are more isolated than ever and it’s taking a toll on our mental health. We are hard-wired for connection and relationships. It is God’s design for us to live in community.
Use technology to your advantage — try setting up a standing Zoom call with friends at the same time each week. Snail mail handwritten notes and cards. If you’re picking up dinner for your family, pick up dinner for a friend and drop it off. Text often. Use my favorite app – Marco Polo – it’s like video texting. It’s so nice to actually see someone’s face when you’re messaging. Take a socially distant walk with a friend or neighbor. One of my friends had a virtual dinner party with a few other families via Google Hangout! They even had the kids do a talent show after dinner (how cute!).
Whatever you do, don’t quit trying to connect. It’s so important – and you might be someone else’s lifeline right now.