Health Bits: 3 Small Ways to Manage Your Stress During a Pandemic
Stress is a normal part of daily life; however, you may be experiencing more stress than usual during the Covid-19 pandemic. Daily stressors may stem from job uncertainty; lack of childcare options; inability to find the foods or supplies you need at your grocery store; or simply the concern of transmitting the Covid-19 virus. While some stress is healthy, high amounts of unmanaged stress can lead to poor health outcomes such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, and anxiety.(1) Furthermore, research suggests that stress can weaken our immune system.(2) Thus, it is vital now more than ever, that we find methods to effectively manage our stress in a healthful way.
Oftentimes, when people hear 'stress management', they think of meditation and assume it is the only way to manage stress. While meditation is a great technique, there are so many other small practices you can try to help effectively manage your stress.
Here are 3 small ways to manage your stress during the pandemic.
- Practicing Gratitude – Practicing gratitude is one of the simplest stress management tools you can use. Nowadays, you can find all kinds of fancy gratitude journals online. While these are great, your daily gratitude practice does not have to be extravagant. If you choose to write down a daily gratitude, all you need is a pen and paper. You can start off by naming one thing you are grateful for that day. You can eventually work your way up to maybe 3 or 4 items of gratitude, but it is not necessary. You can also practice gratitude without having to write anything down. You can verbally say your daily gratitude out loud during your morning routine.
- Laughter - Laughter is a great way to help us deal with impossible situations and has been found to reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. It may seem impossible to find humor in things when you are going through a stressful time such as living through a pandemic, however, there are many ways to bring some laughter into your day. Try reading a daily comic or a funny blog. Do you have children at home? Ask them to tell you a funny joke or story. If you have access to a video subscription service, search for a funny show or movie that makes you laugh out loud. You may be surprised how uplifting a good laugh can be!
- Social Support - Family, friends, and neighbors can provide an excellent buffer from life’s stressors. When you find people that you enjoy and people who will listen and help problem solve, it can greatly improve your overall sense of wellbeing. Currently, in the age of social distancing, we can still find comfort in our social circle through phone calls and video calls. You might even find creative ways to keep in touch with your social circle while maintaining social distancing guidelines.
There are many techniques that you can use to manage stress, and these are just a few quick ones to help you along the way. Try them out and see if you like them. Remember, the BEST techniques are the ones that work for you!
- Schneiderman, N., Ironson, G., & Siegel, S. D. (2005). Stress and health: psychological, behavioral, and biological determinants. Annual review of clinical psychology, 1, 607–628. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.clinpsy.1.102803.144141
- Segerstrom, S. C. and Miller, G. E. (2004). Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System: A Meta-Analytic Study of 30 Years of Inquiry. Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 130, No. 4.