Updated: Apr 30
April is National Stress Awareness Month. You read that right, a month where the entire nation comes together in recognition that we are stressed -and it couldn’t come at a better time. Have you been feeling worried, angry, irritable, depressed or unable to focus? Has your body experienced more frequent headaches, trouble sleeping, stomachaches, changes to weight, tense muscles or frequent colds? These are signs that you are stressed, and rightfully so! It is a state of emergency out here, It is completely natural to feel less than ok. It is common to experience a moment of stress, especially in times of uncertainty and emergency. I would argue that it is the stress that motivates us to stay in the house or to practice safe social distancing. It is important to note that a little bit of stress every now and then gives us opportunities to grow but too much, and you could be welcoming some extreme detriment to your physical and emotional well being. It is all about balance, and luckily we have these tips and a national month to help us get it together.
Tip 1: Take care of your body.
No greater time to start taking better care of your self than now. Despite the dark times occurring outside your four walls, this is a great opportunity to start loving ourselves from within. One of the only things we have control over is how we take care of our bodies. Forms of self-care include but are not limited to:
+Meditation/ Journaling (A way to dissect what is causing stress). +Easting clean. +Body Movement ie (deep breathing, or dancing like crazy to your favorite song) +Bathing, and washing your face every day (someone had to say it)
Self-care during emergencies will aid in your long term recovery. So dedicate some of your time to destress by focusing on what you can control, which is your health by taking care of your body.
Tip 2: Stay informed but implement Media breaks.
It is easy to get caught up in the chaos sauce especially when your local new source is social media or your panicked Grandma (Love you, Grandma!). Reduce your stress by staying informed. You can go to a number of websites to stay updated, websites like WHO or CDC keep us updated without the theatrics of watching the news.
Head on over to CDC’s Situation Summary to manage your information intake. Sometimes the news is too much for me, I prefer reading to avoid any bias. The CDC does a nice job of allowing me to stay informed but not overwhelmed. Stay informed so that you can plan, and act accordingly but keep in mind what you do know, and avoid making a catastrophe of what you don’t.
Tip 3: Take care of your mind.
Give your mind a break from being stressed and having to analyze real life and death situations. Indulge yourself in some fun and creative activities like:
+Teaching yourself how to draw/ paint/ knit etc.
+Learning a new language.
+Trying out new recipes
If all else fails, just clean your house, Organize that everything drawer. Let your mind relax by doing instant gratification activities. My personal favorite is vacuuming, It is common in my household for me to stress vacuum.
Tip 4: Connect.
Social distancing does not mean social disconnecting, use this time to work on your social skills. Embrace your stress by talking about it, I promise you aren’t alone in this. Checking in on your loved ones is a good way to stay on top of stress and make sure your friends and family are holding up ok. Maintaining healthy relationships and building a strong support system is also a great way to pass time this quarantine
Tip 5: Painting your nails.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t include nail polish somewhere on this list. The nail painting sessions with myself have significantly increased since the start of quarantine and rightfully so, it is a coping ritual for me. Doing your nails is a perfect way to tell yourself you are worth it AND it is a great way to let go of some of that stress.
Greta Angert, A psychotherapist specializing in anxiety found that the repetition in paint strokes and the required concentration gives the artist comfort and can be used as a way to cope with stress. Plus, having a nice nail set coupled with religiously washing my hands every few hours just makes it all worth it.
Everyday I work hard to practice my gratitude, it isn’t always easy to be thankful (Especially in a state of emergency). I must admit that I am feeling the pressure of stressful thoughts in waves throughout the past few months. I was beginning to feel scared and overwhelmed but with the help of these tips I have been able to take better care of mind, body and soul. I hope everyone is staying safe, and if the stress begins to feel overwhelming, please reach out to your clergy member, doctor or counselor.
If those options are not available to you, please reach out to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Hotline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
With Love and Respect,