In a previous article, The Impact of COVID-19 on our Mental Health and the Search for a Silver Lining, I shared that each of us can make a commitment to creating a stronger society during this stressful time by countering stress and anxiety with a plan to take back your power wherever you can in your life.
Social isolation: good for virus killing, not so good for people
One point underscores the “Stay at Home” orders as they relate to stress. Social isolation thing is great for defeating the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s not so good for everything else health related including depression, domestic violence, substance abuse, and chronic diseases like heart disease.
The coronavirus “fix” is piling more stress on citizens already struggling with it. Stress that could potentially lead to chronic stress, anxiety, and worse has been bubbling under the surface in our society. The pandemic may cause the “pot to boil over” for many.
“Stress is necessary and even positive at some level, but it can quickly spiral out of control if it becomes negative and is left unmanaged. Humans may be more susceptible than ever to stress and its adverse effects.
Confinement is a significant stressor, and humans are becoming increasingly confined. Overcrowding, increasing social constraints, occupational demands, and growing geo/political/economic unknowns are significant sources of stress that were unknown to our ancestors.
One of the primary factors in good health, human performance, and a happy, productive aging process is identifying and managing stress” .
Methods to decrease feelings of isolation and stress
Write a letter to get a letter
Lessen the effects of isolation by creatively increasing social contact with friends and family. Use technology like Zoom/FaceTime/Skype, the telephone, or even the good old U.S. Postal Service. Rediscover the lost art of letter writing. Remember how much fun getting a real, handwritten letter was?
Find and practice normal
General stress can be lessened by limiting your engagement with the media, including social media. Constantly hearing about the pandemic can be upsetting even if what you are hearing is truthful and accurate.
Avoid drama and negative scenarios
Don’t engage with people who are negative or sensationalize the COVID-19 issue. Being prepared is a good thing but dwelling on worst-case scenarios can devastate your mental health. Recognize what stresses you out and do your best to eliminate it from your life.
Take good care of yourself and your family
Help your body cope with the physical demands of stress by maintaining a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, restful sleep, and avoiding harmful substances.
Mentally and spiritually
Make an honest assessment of where you are now. Put some real thought into what your current and future goals might be. Strategize — determine what specific lifestyle changes that you can take to achieve them. Out of ideas? Enlist the aid of a coach, virtually, of course.
Tips to start you on your way
Healthy eating tips – Focus on both eating nutritionally superior foods and avoid foods that you know aren’t good for you. Getting your body into peak condition bolsters your immune system.
Physical activity – Keep moving. Body weight exercises and calisthenics done at home are beneficial because they more closely resemble the exercise ranges of motion that our ancestors moved through in their everyday life.
Alcohol and drug misuse/abuse – There are many positive ways to cope with stress. Starting or increasing alcohol and/or drug consumption is not one of them. You’ll know if you are, and you will likely know if someone you love is leaning on substances for help. Look for it, identify it, and if you see it seek help.
Additional information from the CDC
The CDC has an entire section dedicated to stress and coping in these trying times. www.cdc.gov
Direct link to Stress and Coping https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html
- Coolidge WC. “Healthy Dynamic Living: Utilizing Lifestyle Lessons from Your Ancestors to Promote Healthy Aging and Ultimate Wellness”. Charlotte: Vital Surge Press; 2016.
Photos courtesy Pixabay.com
Wayne Coolidge, Jr., M.Ed., CHES is an author, speaker, and innovative Health Promotion Scholar-Practitioner. He owns Wayne Coolidge Health Promotion, a consulting firm specializing in healthy aging, nutrition, nutritional supplementation, fat loss, fitness, and disease prevention. His expertise is designing lifestyle-optimization strategies leading to positive genetic expression, controlled cellular aging, health, and wellness. He has accumulated more than 31,000 hours of one-on-one training and personal consultation experience over a 37-year career. Wayne’s web site www.waynecoolidge.com. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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