"One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from a horse master. He told me to go slow to go fast. I think that applies to everything in life. We live as though there aren't enough hours in the day, but if we do each thing calmly and carefully, we will get it done quicker and with much less stress.”
- Viggo Mortensen
The pandemic has been looming over us for over a year. With the kind of problems we are tackling, it is not irrational or unreasonable to experience terror, despair, sorrow, and a host of other feelings that lead to stress. We have been confined to the four walls of our houses for a long time now. The pandemic has prevented us from freely socialising, interacting and engaging with others in a professional and personal space.
However, it’s not a helpless situation. There are some behaviours one can adopt and practice in their life to balance mental well-being. These will help reduce the stress that emerges from all the unexpected and unimagined things that seem to occur.
Limit The Pandemic-Related News
The information/news one receives concerning the pandemic (increasing cases, deaths, and other heartbreaking events) is either via media or through an acquaintance who is negatively affected by it. However, the former tends to rule in the majority of situations
It is understandable if one wants to keep a tab on all the news/ information that comes up, but the extent to which it affects us physically and mentally should always be in hindsight. When one becomes aware that the news is affecting the mind, i.e. causing excessive fear, despair and anxiety, it is advisable to limit the content intake.
Thus, in any case, if you ever feel overwhelmed by the content, you can always divert from the incoming information. Instead watch something relaxing and soothing, such as a funny movie or listening to some calming songs.
Engage In Physical Activities:
One of the main aspects of healthy living involves engaging in physical activities at regular intervals and keeping fit. While that seemed achievable in pre-covid times, do not let that be a factor restricting your exercise regime at home. Various studies have shown that engaging in exercise regimens releases endorphins (chemicals released by the brain that act as natural pain killers) that reduce stress and improve sleep quality. Since much of our work and time involves us sitting in one place, it is encouraged to exercise for at least 30 minutes five times a week. In addition to the choice of your exercises, try to include practising yoga and meditation, for it acts as a catalyst in calming, relaxing, and reducing stress.
Revisit Your Favourite Hobbies:
Amid our hectic everyday lives, many of our favourite hobbies and pastimes have been ignored or withered away. However, the fact that we now have at least a couple of hours in the day or week free can be seen as a boon; since we can tend to our hobbies again.
When the surrounding news becomes overwhelming, one can resort to hobbies or pastimes to unwind and relax. You can always take the paint, get started on a blank canvas, bake the cake or bread you've wanted to for such a long time, and engage in other favourite pastimes too. Doing what you like and being able to achieve it will help you develop a sense of control, thereby reducing stress.
"Hobbies are great distractions from the worries and troubles that plague daily living."
Practice Work-Life Balance:
All successful people have one thing in common — effortlessly managing their time, scheduling events, and maintaining a routine (in addition to their sanity). Before "work from home", there were designated days for professional work and recreational activities. However, since the lockdown, the boundaries between work and leisure have started overlapping. This phenomenon saw work taking over employees' personal space and time, often causing frustration and burnout, leading to continuous stress. To overcome drain, maintaining a work-life balance is advised.
Practice the art of organising your day the night before or first thing in the morning. Try appointing a certain number of hours next to specific tasks. If it's not already prevalent, you could talk to your organisation regarding practical/suitable breaks during work hours. While working from home, (if possible) designate a place of work and dress-up to feel presentable and engaging. We might not understand the importance of the small things, but maintaining a particular routine, often similar to how it was in pre-COVID time, helps reduce stress by promoting productivity and a sense of control.
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
– Stephen Covey
Stay In Touch With Family And Friends:
Socialising often plays a crucial role in developing and maintaining a sense of support for an individual. We as humans strive to maintain close relationships with our loved ones. However, the circumstances around us have confined us to our houses, distancing us from our loved ones and barring us from meeting them like in pre-pandemic times — leading to uneasiness, misunderstanding, and loneliness.
Keeping in touch with our loved ones is considered to boost mental health. Everyone tends to have hectic schedules, but a weekly phone call or text can do far more than one might think. Schedule video conversations with your loved ones, play games or engage in fun tasks with them. Activities like these will lead to better emotional and social support, lowering stress during these times.
Seek Professional Support
Given the time that we live in, it is okay not to always be okay. Some of us have lost an academic year, others face job constraints, some of us are dealing with personal matters, and some others might be entirely on the other end of the spectrum, going through their share of trials.
It isn't easy to face situations that reflect a loss of control, often leading to despair, fear, and helplessness — causing significant, continuous stress. The overwhelming scenarios and stress we face today hamper major areas of our life. It is important to seek professional support during such circumstances. You can always discuss and schedule an appointment with your counsellor/therapist or a doctor who would guide you in the right and appropriate direction.
Stress is something that we regularly confront in life at several points in time. Sometimes we cope with it in our ways, while other times, it is by the experiences that follow the stressful event.
However, stress can become overwhelming at times, often making our bodies reach the exhaustion stage (when the body loses the strength to face further stressors). A lot of us face different levels of stress in current times, which is taking a toll not only on our physical but our mental health as well.
Now you are equipped with behaviours and techniques that you can incorporate into your lives to better cope with the stress. At any point, do not ever feel that you cannot seek help or that it is irrational and unjustified. You deserve to feel stress-free physically and mentally!
“Stress acts as an accelerator: it will push you either forward or backwards, but you choose which direction."
―Chelsea ErieauSeek Support Now