The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major effect on our lives. Many of us are facing challenges that can be stressful, overwhelming, and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Public health actions, such as social distancing, are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but they can make us feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety. Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about, and those around you become more resilient.
Get Up and Move
Physical activity does more than improve your physical health. It releases endorphins that boost your mood and reduce stress. Don’t let gym closures stop your workouts. There are plenty of fitness apps and websites to help you develop an at-home exercise regimen, and many strength-training exercises can be done without gym equipment. If the whole COVID-19 situation has diminished your motivation to work out, that’s okay. Start with simple activities like stretching at home or walking around your neighborhood.
Reduce Stress and Anxiety
There are many unknowns right now- how long we will be social distancing, work disruptions, financial uncertainty, etc. Steps to reduce stress and anxiety can help us feel more grounded despite these unknowns. Limit exposure to media about the pandemic. Find a balance between being informed and watching 24 hours a day. Follow reliable sources, like the CDC. Use focused meditation and relaxation. Turn off digital devices and media coverage and enjoy at least 10 minutes of thoughtful meditation. (Utilize an app as suggested above to help guide your meditation if desired). Set and keep a schedule, go to bed and wake up at regular times, and keep your work or school routine as close to normal as possible.Remember the activities you normally love doing that can be continued.
Boost Your Immunity With Food
A strong immune system offers protection from seasonal illnesses and other health conditions. While nothing can replace washing your hands with soap and water, certain foods do have immune-boosting properties. Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit, tangerines), strawberries and red bell peppers are filled with vitamin C, which stimulates the formation of antibodies to protect you from infection. Vitamin A can stave off infection, and it’s found in sweet potatoes, spinach, carrots and foods labeled “vitamin A-fortified,” like milk or cereal. Protein is another key factor in a healthy immune system. Healthy sources of protein include lean meats, poultry, eggs and seafood.
Take a Deep Breath
One deep breath can make a huge difference when you’re feeling stressed or anxious. Deep breathing exercises lower blood pressure and ease the mind while strengthening your lungs. Try this: Sit in a comfortable position with your shoulders relaxed. Close your eyes if that helps you relax. Breathe in slowly through your nose, expanding your belly. Exhale slowly for a count of five. Pause for two seconds, then inhale again. Repeat as many times as needed.
Ask For Help When Needed
Changes in our lifestyles like working from home, children doing school from home, and not being able to physically visit with friends or family can be challenging. If you become overwhelmed and feel like your thoughts or actions have become debilitating, please know that it is ok to ask for help. That help can be as simple as asking a friend or neighbor to pick something up for you at the store next time they go, or reaching out for assistance with mental health support.
At a time when we all need to keep our physical distance, it’s important to remember that we can (and should) stay emotionally connected. Call or video chat with your relatives, especially those who live alone. Set up a virtual game night with your friends. Learn about ways you can help your community. We’re all in this together, which means none of us are truly alone.
Posts written by the Team ELM family!