One of the best things you can do to help avoid a coronavirus infection is to keep your stress level low. Get specifics on how you can reduce your stress.
“Stress is resisting what is.”
We are living in a stressful time.
The coronavirus pandemic is upending lives in so many ways.
It’s normal to feel stressed out and anxious when life gets hard.
In fact, that’s the purpose of stress — to help keep you safe in the face of danger.
But how can you stay upbeat and lower your stress level in the age of the coronavirus?
First and foremost: Take care of your mental and physical health — stress, loneliness, and sleep loss can weaken your immune system, leaving you more susceptible to infection. (1)
Fundamental Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) Mental Health Advice
- Eat healthy food
- Get adequate sleep
- Get physical exercise
- Maintain physical distance, but stay in touch with friends and family
- Prepare, but don’t panic
- Do not obsessively check news coverage
- Meditate or take active measures to manage stress
- Don’t take recreational drugs or abuse alcohol
- If you feel overwhelmed, talk to a mental health care professional
But how do you DO these things?
Here are some of the articles on Be Brain Fit that will help you TAKE ACTION on these important stress-relieving measures:
Make the Most of Your Time
For some of us, life has changed dramatically.
You may be working at home, working less, or not working at all.
You may find that you have more time on your hands.
While at first it may be fun to binge-watch your favorite shows, this can ultimately contribute to rising stress. (4)
I checked in with my friends and family to see what they’re doing to stay positive:
I’ve got several friends who are making quilts.
One friend is making a quilt for Quilts of Valor, an organization for veterans whose lives were touched by war.
There are other ways to use quilting to help others such as Quilts for Kids.
I love this idea because doing for others is one of the best ways to make both you and the recipient feel better. (5)
One of my friends and her husband are taking French lessons.
They set aside one hour every evening to speak only French to each other.
Another friend is an avid genealogist.
One thing she’s learned is that, for most of human history, life was really, really hard.
Learning about your ancestors may give you a new perspective and help you appreciate how good life is today.
You can start for free at FamilySearch.org.
A few of my family members are into geocaching.
Experts encourage getting outdoors to exercise (while practicing social distancing) and geocaching can make your outing a fun treasure hunt.
You can learn more and get an app at Geocaching.com.
My husband’s good friend volunteers for a grassroots political organization.
My sister-in-law works with an animal rescue group.
By the way, animal adoptions have dropped significantly and there are many animals in need.
If it makes sense for you, consider adopting a dog or cat.
Pets are wonderful buffers against stress and loneliness.
My hair stylist is also a baker and particularly enjoys baking out of her home for those with dietary restrictions.
Her creations are works of art that bring joy to everyone involved.
Here are some of our articles on how to creatively and productively spend your time:
Choose Media Selectively
You need to stay prepared and know what’s going on, but compulsively following the news is one of the worst sources of stress.
When you do check the news, get out of your filter bubble and get your news ONLY from trusted sources.
For other news, I urge you to stick with balanced websites and news organizations rather than those leaning politically far to the right or left.
If you aren’t sure what those sources are, check out AllSides.
This website scientifically analyzes news organization biases and categorizes them as Left – Lean Left – Center – Lean Right – Right – Mixed.
Avoid getting worked up by what you consider extreme viewpoints; this will only further fuel your stress.
Don’t watch movies or TV shows that fuel your anxiety.
Focus instead on watching things you find uplifting or humorous.
Be Considerate and Grateful
We are all in this together.
Be patient when dealing with the people you care about, especially those you live with.
If you’re not used to being together 24/7, it’s stressful for everyone.
Consciously devise a system that allows everyone some alone time.
Express gratitude to all of those people working hard to provide the food and other goods you need.
You Can Be Resilient
All of us are descended from very resilient humans.
If our ancestors had not survived their challenges, we wouldn’t be here!
You may find it helpful to talk to some of the seniors you know that may have lived through a war, economic downturn, or similar upheaval.
You may be surprised to learn how they handled their problems.
My former mother-in-law used to pine for her World War II days in London.
She remembered them as the happiest times of her life because their shared struggle bound everyone together.
Life Is Different … For Now
Try to accept that life will be different for a while.
Embrace these changes as opportunities and look for good things happening around you.
Maybe you get to spend more time with your family, do projects you’ve been putting off, or enjoy not having to commute to work.
Or you may look inward to see how you can reorder the priorities in your life.
Trauma experts have found that emotional resilience is not something you’re born with, it’s an ongoing process to develop a mindset that increases resilience.
A resilient mindset helps you handle whatever life throws your way so that you can stay strong in the face of adversity.
Adopt the habits and attitudes of highly resilient people, as we discuss here:
How to Cope With Coronavirus Stress: Take the Next Step
While these are very stressful times, you can be proactive in lowering your stress level:
- Follow the CDC’s core lifestyle advice.
- If you find you have time on your hands, use it wisely.
- Monitor your news consumption.
- Engage in health-giving and uplifting activities.
- Treat others with kindness and respect — we’re all in the same boat.
- Believe in your own resilience and take measures to foster that mindset.