As we all know, 2020 brought us the egregious global pandemic caused by COVID-19. Fortunately, 2020 also brought us the vaccine for COVID-19 – which health departments and other healthcare facilities are rolling out as quickly as currently possible. Nevertheless, until we are all in the clear, something must be done with the steaming pile of stress COVID-19 so graciously bestowed upon us. Here are my top 5 stress busters during a global pandemic:
Exercise (*even a little*)!
Physical activity is an essential healthy habit to keeping stress at bay. You may not feel comfortable hitting the gym just yet, but taking a walk around the neighborhood or at a local park for just 10-20 minutes per day can offer a change in perspective and potentially lower stress levels.
Count your blessings!
We know now more than ever just how much we truly appreciate the community, comfort, and comradery of our friends and family. Many recent studies have shown that practicing gratitude regularly improves our mental health. Consider keeping a gratitude journal and writing down 3 things you are grateful for each day. Additionally, since we can’t go see them, why not write an old-fashioned letter to a friend telling them just that? Send it through snail-mail and imagine their face when they read it. How heart-warming!
Reach out to a friend!
Text, call, or Zoom a friend on the regular; write it in your planner so you have that time to look forward to.
If you feel that you must meet in person with a friend or family member, wear a mask and practice safe social distancing by remaining 6 feet apart. Also, meet outdoors where the particles are more likely to disperse.
Watch funny videos!
Consider the old Irish saying, “a good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures.” I am a huge fan of Saturday Night Live and Mr. Bean! What are some of your favorites?
Get adequate rest!
Along with increased stress levels, other areas of our lives impacted include changes in routine and an increase in caffeine intake - and drinking caffeine later in the day (In the days of pre-COVID, Dunkin sales were down, but now sales are up. Plus, the local drive-thru line is always at least 6 deep…).
How many cups of joe are you having each day? Consider enjoying your last cup before 5pm or earlier; it may help you to fall asleep more readily at bedtime.
Committing to at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night can also help your brain be more productive during the day.
BONUS PRO TIP: Maintain a routine!
From work to school to even going to the grocery store, our routines have been flipped upside down and sideways. If we can make small steps to set some semblance of a daily and nightly routine, we can begin (again) to maintain a less stressful schedule.
For instance, try going to bed at the same time every night and set an alarm to wake up at the same time every morning – even if you don’t technically have to; this can help maintain a regular sleep cycle, which can help keep stress levels lower throughout the day.
Thanks for reading! Take Care!
Laura Cooper, CSW, MSSW, TCADC
Clinical Social Worker
Laura Cooper is a Certified Social Worker and Temporary Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor with a Master of Science in Social Work degree from the University of Louisville Kent School of Social Work. As a former Substance Abuse Counselor and Prevention Specialist, Laura pulls from an eclectic background of evidence-based practices and theories to assist others in reaching their goals. As a Behavioral Health Clinician at Mindsight of Richmond Kentucky, Laura enjoys helping clients empower themselves with stress management techniques, coping skills, and necessary resources along their journey to improved mental health and wellbeing.