Feeling Stress During the COVID-19 Crisis? Here Are Ways to Cope
As we continue to take measures to fend off the coronavirus, it’s easy to experience high levels of stress. The change in our daily routines is causing us to alter our lifestyles, and these changes can take their toll.
Avoid, Alter, or Adapt. According to INTERVENT, a health coaching program available to Compass Group associates and spouses enrolled in an eligible Compass Group medical plan, these are three courses of action people can take in any stressful situation. The goal of stress management is to choose an action appropriate for the situation. Here are some examples:
Avoid. Many people are feeling stress about the potential of contracting the virus, but we can take actions that will lower our chances of catching it and also lower our stress level. For example, if you are concerned about close contact with others, avoid going to the grocery store and order your groceries online.
Alter. Many of us can no longer exercise at the gym or enjoy other outdoor activities due to “shelter in place” orders. But we can still walk and jog in our neighborhoods and work out in our homes or apartments. Alter your behavior by coming up with a new solution that may help lead to less stress.
Adapt. Some people may disagree with the new recommendations by federal and state government officials. But since these are the new rules in place, we may need to adapt how we think, feel, or act. Instead of saying “I am stuck at home,” try telling yourself “I am safe at home.” Adapting to stressful situations and learning to deal with them as best you can, may be a better response than making significant changes in your life.
In the meantime, we’ve pulled recommendations from Psychology Today to help limit stress during the next several weeks:
Stay Healthy. Continue to eat well, get enough sleep, and exercise. We all know proper nutrition helps fight disease, so eat a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables. Also, stay properly hydrated and avoid or reduce drinking alcoholic beverages. Even though the gym may be closed, walk or jog in your neighborhood or other open areas where there aren’t many people.
Get Good Information, Then Turn Off the News. Make sure you are getting enough information from experts to stay healthy and safe; the same applies to people providing financial advice during this period. But your mental health is critical, too. Once you have the information you need, turn off the news and find some other programs that give you joy and satisfaction.
Keep in Touch with Friends and Family. All of us need to make sure those closest to us are staying safe. Use this time to tell people how important they are to you through FaceTime or other online outlets. Too, it’s beneficial to let your feelings out with a friend, family member or professional. A wide variety of feelings are surfacing, and they should be acknowledged to ourselves or with others. Many therapists are available for online consultation.
Have Some Fun. Puzzles, magazines, humor provide a much-needed respite from the stress. Many families are enjoying the extra time together by playing board games, cards, and cooking.
Be Kind and Limit Time with Negative People. Most everyone is upset and could use a kind word right now. Since it’s difficult for us to volunteer, consider donating money to relief efforts. Use Charity Navigator to guide you, or The New York Times has recommended Global Giving and Relief International. On the other hand, limit interactions with people who simply want to complain. While it may feel right to listen to someone who is distressed, it shouldn’t be at the expense of your mental health.
Clean and Get Organized. We can counteract our distress by being productive. The garage, basement and other rooms in the house often gather items for years; take a couple of hours to toss these items and clean up the cobwebs. It’s also a good time to do some financial planning, whether it’s making a budget, doing your taxes or making adjustments to your investments. Completing tasks gives your brain a boost of dopamine; even emptying a dishwasher or folding laundry can give us a quick boost in times of distress.
Keep Some Routines, Start New Ones. Many find comfort in a predictable routine, so stick to the same bedtime and wake-up time and exercise at the same time each day. However, it also helps to try some new activities while all of this downtime. So, pick up a new book, watch a TED Talk or start learning a new language.
Avoid Big Decisions. Right now, our thought process may not be at its best due to the excess cortisol. Avoid conflicting situations and postpone any important decision that can wait.
If you’re a Compass Group associate who is participating in INTERVENT, it is especially important to keep your telephone appointments with your health coach. And, we encourage all associates to learn more about the wellness benefits available to them.