People have been living in a storm of stress during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic and other world news, which has had a negative impact on our well-being.
A little bit of stress is good and essential for survival, but severe or prolonged stress can increase the risk for stress-related diseases.
Here’s how to start making healthy changes to reduce your stress levels during these challenging times.
- Follow a daily routine: Coming up with a structured plan for each day with clear boundaries between your working and private life will give you a sense of control amid the uncertainty. Try to divide your day into small activities and make sure you build in time to do things you enjoy, from pursuing your hobbies or exercising, to spending time with your children or pets. You also should set a daily routine for work, like taking regular breaks, leaving your desk for lunch, and having a fixed time to turn off. Additionally, focus on getting enough sleep and regularly eating healthy meals.
- Exercise: Physical activity can do wonders for your mental health – especially if you are feeling stressed. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week – or if you are very motivated, a combination of both. That’s as little as 15 minutes a day!
- Set limits around news on COVID-19: Excessively checking updates of coronavirus news can leave you stressed and emotionally exhausted. Try to make a conscious effort to disconnect and build healthy news habits, like turning off push notifications from news apps, seeking factual information from trusted sources, and setting specific times for checking the news.
- Spend time in nature: Numerous studies have shown that spending time in nature has a positive effect on mental health. Spending just 20 minutes connecting with nature can help lower stress hormone levels. Consider taking a stroll in the park after work. Time spent in nature also contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and stress hormones.
- Seek professional support: If you are feeling overwhelmed and in need of professional support, there are many options available. You can seek help from a professional counselor or look for peer support. Peer support means persons with lived experience of mental health issues providing support to each other. Sessions are built on sharing personal experience and empathy while focusing on an individual’s strengths, wellbeing, and recovery. If you want to avoid in-person meetings, consider looking for online options.
P.S. Project Pneuma is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.