This is a time of constant change and uncertainty. The world being so interconnected can leave us feeling helpless and scared especially if we are plugged into news about the pandemic throughout the day. The disruption to our daily routines and rhythms, the added demands if we have children, the fears around loss of employment, and the worries about our loved ones can be very stressful and overwhelming. We have a tendency to believe that worry and being on high alert mode will have us more prepared and ready for if and when things get worse. However stress compromises our immune systems and clouds are thinking, making us more vulnerable. So here are just a few simple but effective ways we can reduce stress:
1. Be mindful of the language you use with yourself and others. Does it add more drama, fear and stress? People say to me they can’t be hypnotized, but trust me, you are hypnotizing yourself all the time with your self talk and how you express that to the world around you. So be intentional with your thoughts, words and actions. Check in and see if the thoughts you are telling yourself are absolutely true. Ask yourself if you know all the data that you need to know to respond appropriately. If not, choose thoughts that are logical and evoke calm and steadiness. Also wait until you have more information before you take any action.
2. When you notice you are anxious follow the STOP process:
Stop. Literally stop what you are doing.
Take 3 deep breaths.
Observe your body. Take three more deep breaths into any tension you notice.
Proceed with Presence.
3. BE Present. I know this sounds cliché but truly your body and nervous system can only be right here in this present moment. When you continue to scatter yourself into the past and future you become ungrounded and anxious. One simple tool to become more present is to engage all of your senses by stopping and noticing...Five things you see, Four things you hear, Three things you feel, Two things you smell, and One thing you taste. This brings you back to the here and now where all of your power is.
4. While washing your hands focus on something you are grateful for. Breathe. Really allow yourself to feel the feelings of appreciation for that 20 or so seconds.
5. Remember to SLOW DOWN if you are overwhelmed. Just do the next right thing. That might be getting dressed, showering, making the bed, cooking a meal, sending an email, reaching out to a loved one. Don’t go into speculation about tomorrow or next week. Just take one moment at a time.
Just remember that if you are just surviving right now that is a win. These are not normal times. There are so many losses that we all are experiencing so there are no requirements of you to "do it all" perfectly. This is a global emergency. We all are doing the best we can. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself and those you love the most some grace.