As I write this (March 2020), the federal government has just announced another month of social distancing to rein in the covid-19 pandemic. Which means another month of thinking about all the things we can’t control and an even longer list of things we can’t do. But, if that’s all we focus on, we’re going to feel even more stressed and anxious.
Let me help you stay healthy and sane during the restrictions required during the covid-19 pandemic. When I’m leading a Stress Management program, I remind audience members that even in the most dire situations, there are always thing we CAN DO. And, focusing on those things, right now, is a good way to feel more in control and calm.
This is just a starter list, but here are seven things you can do right now to help you feel like you have some control over the situation and your life.
I know, I know…you’ve heard this so many times. Do you really need instructions? Probably. I found out that I’d been doing it wrong after a registered nurse colleague, Colleen Sweeney posted this brief instructional video online.
Yes, it sounds so simple (and it is) but just taking control over your breathing can help you immensely in stressful times. When we’re feeling out of control (think of that near car accident, a breakup, or looming deadline), our stress hormones set off a series of effects including increased heart rate and increased breathing. What you want to practice right now, during the pandemic, is the “relaxation response” (it’s the opposite of the “stress response”). I posted this one-minute video showing a simple movement to make slow breathing easy. One audience member said she taught it to her overly anxious five-year old with great results. It’s such a simple way to slow down your breathing that you’ll find yourself feeling better after just a few deep breaths.
When I called a friend of mine last week, Neily (NeilyOnNutrition), she answered with such a cheery “good morning.” And, I was thinking…with all this bad news…how can she possibly be so chipper? So, I asked her. That’s when she told me about her morning routine. I then interviewed her on my “Dr. Jo’s Health & Sanity Call” for all the details. Take a listen here. What a great way to start her day! (way better than how I had been starting my day…with the news).
These last couple of weeks we found ourselves going to the grocery store too often – just because we couldn’t get everything we wanted at one visit. A colleague of mine, Alice Henneman, a recent guest on my “Health & Sanity Call”, shared how to stock our pantries with shelf-stable items so we have enough food to go weeks between shopping trips. Now, that’s a good idea! Watch the video HERE.
Exercise is not just for strengthening your muscles and heart. Movement is important to increase your energy, decrease stress, and help people get a good night’s sleep. Just because the gyms and workout facilities are closed due to the pandemic doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. It’s easy to get a great full-body, high intensity workout even if you just have a six-foot square spot in your house. I developed my Dr. Jo’s One-Minute Workout more than twenty years ago – and still practice it on a regular basis. It involves doing one-minute of an aerobic activity (like jumping rope – or making believe you’re jumping rope) followed by one-minute of a resistance activity (like lunges, squats, and planks)…and then repeated as many times as you want. Watch my instructions HERE.
Sometimes we just want to escape – and what better way to do that, but with a hobby or special interest. I’ve heard so many stories in the news and on social media of people taking up hobbies that hadn’t had the time to practice before. What can YOU do? You could practice a musical instrument, take tap dance lessons on YouTube, sew a quilt, or catch up on gardening. Many companies have also been offering some of their online courses for free…here’s a list of some of those.
Things will get better, easier. I can’t tell you when, but it will. And, it helps to remember that. If you keep focusing on how bad things are, you’ll feel more sad and apathetic. Instead, keep focusing on what you can do now…and keep remembering that someday this pandemic will be in the rear view mirror.
I’d love to hear how YOU are getting through this covid-19 pandemic. How do YOU stay in control of what you can control? Send me an email and let me know.