Stress Management in the Time of Corona

a person struggling with stress management

I think we can all agree that times are stressful right now. There’s a pandemic raging across the globe and, even though there are still people showing up at airports and trying to go about business as usual, most of us are in need of some extra stress management.

I’ll be honest. I feel a little silly writing about stress management because, historically, I haven’t been the best at managing my stress. I tend to hold it together really well and push everything down. Then, I explode and have a meltdown when my cup finally runneth over. It’s not a good look.

I’m working to change this tendency of mine, though, and there’s no time like the present (especially when you consider what the present is currently like). So, I figured I’d share what’s helping me in hopes that it’ll also help you. Here are some of the stress management practices I’ve been using for the last couple of weeks to help me keep my shit together.

Sticking to My Routine

I’m very fortunate in the fact that my day-to-day life really hasn’t changed changed that much. I work from home and have for years, so I’m used to hanging out at the house most of the day. The biggest difference is that I’m not going to the gym for workouts.

That being said, I’ve found a lot of comfort in continuing with my existing routine. I wake up at the same time every day, stick to the same work schedule, workout at the same time I normally would, and eat meals at the same times I normally do.

I’ve also made it a point to continue with other aspects of my routine, like doing laundry on the same days, meal prepping on the same days, and taking my dog out for her regular walks (I think I look forward to them just as much as she does since they’re usually my only foray into the outside world these days).

I love routines, and have a certain amount of predictability in my day, especially when so much is unpredictable, brings me a lot of peace.

If you haven’t been following any kind of schedule and are flying by the seat of your pants, try sitting down and writing out a plan for your day. Having dedicated times for meals, snacks, doing schoolwork with your kids, and doing your own work might help you feel more in control and a little less stressed.

Scaling Back My Workouts

I can’t workout at the gym right now, so I’ve been doing a lot of bodyweight workouts and resistance band workouts. I could make some adjustments to increase the intensity of these workouts (and I shared some tips in this post if that’s what you’re looking for). At this point in time, though, I’m embracing a lower-impact style of training.

I was already dealing with some issues related to hormone balance and chronic stress before all of this went down. My symptoms have understandably gotten worse over the last few weeks. With this happening, it wouldn’t be prudent for me to try and kill myself during my workouts. I’ve been scaling them back and doing what feels good to me, while also focusing more on form and proper technique than intensity or trying to get as sweaty as possible.

I want to be clear that I absolutely believe that movement of some kind is essential during stressful times. If you’re already an anxious mess, though, beating the crap out of yourself during a workout probably isn’t going to do you any favors now or in the long run.

Keeping My Caffeine Intake Low

I have to say, I’m really glad I cut out caffeinated coffee when I did. Who knows how anxious I’d be right now if I was still pumping myself full of caffeine every morning.

I am drinking green tea on occasion and don’t seem to be having any negative reactions to it, but I’m doing my best to keep it to a minimum. If I’m having any at all, I limit it to one cup, and I’m only drinking it about two or three times per week.

This seems like the sweet spot for me. I get a little extra boost on days when I’m dragging or have a lot of work to get through, but I’m not overly stimulated and can still get to sleep at night without too much trouble.

If you’re relying really heavily on caffeine right now, you might want to try cutting back. I know, it feels impossible. It might even feel like it’s the only thing keeping you together. Stop and ask yourself, though, if caffeine is actually helping you or if it’s making your anxiety and stress worse.

Depending on how you answer that question, you might want to consider mixing in some decaf or opting for a lower-caffeine option (green tea instead of coffee, for example). This will help you give your nervous system a bit of a break.

Meditating and Practicing Yoga

In addition to doing lower-intensity workouts, I’ve also been doing more yoga and meditation lately. I always end my workout with a meditation session. However, I’ve been a little more intentional about it over the last few weeks. I’ve been branching out and doing some guided meditations, too, on days when I need additional grounding and relaxation.

Continuing with my meditation and yoga practices has helped me feel a little more at ease. They’ve also been good for me as I work through my hormone balance issues. I don’t always want to do them, but I always feel much better after I’ve stretched it out and done some breathwork.

Prioritizing Sleep

I’m definitely a sleep zealot. I have a strict bedtime, and I’m very particular about my nighttime routine. I’ve continued with this as best I can (I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t had some tough nights recently where I spent more time awake than asleep), and I always notice a difference in my mood and productivity after getting a good night’s rest.

A lot of us don’t have to be as strict about our sleep and wake times right now. This is especially true if we’re working from home or aren’t working at all.

As you’ll recall, though, I’m a firm believer in routine. I think sticking to a consistent sleep and wake schedule is one of the most basic ways that you can show yourself some love and maintain a sense of normalcy.

That being said, don’t feel ashamed if you find that you need more sleep right now. Giving yourself an extra hour to sleep in before you start your day or going to bed an hour earlier might be necessary as we recalibrate and adjust to the tumult happening all around us. Whatever you need to do, though, I recommend trying to be as consistent as possible with it. That way, your body can adjust sooner.

Keeping It Light

Finally, I’ve been doing my best to keep my media consumption light. I don’t read every single news story that’s published about the virus. I’ve set boundaries around when I want to hear updates, too. For example, my husband is not allowed to update me right before I go to sleep.

I’ve also been limiting the amount of virus-related podcasts I listen to and social media posts I read. It’s not that I don’t want to be informed; I just don’t want to be overwhelmed.

I consume some kind of virus-related media on a daily basis (I think it’s impossible not to). It’s definitely not all I’m consuming, though.

I’m also watching shows I enjoy (there’s a lot of reality TV going on over here) and reading books that are light and fluffy. I don’t have the bandwidth for science-based texts right now, nor can I handle my beloved thrillers.

If everything you’re reading and watching is Coronavirus-related, I recommend setting some boundaries around your media consumption. Do this as much as you can.

Let’s say your work requires you to stay in the know. If this is the case at least, try to cushion the information you’re taking in. Add in some stuff that’s a bit lighter from time to time.

Again, it’s not about putting on earmuffs and pretending nothing bad is happening. Stay informed, please. But, give yourself a break from time to time, too.

What Are Your Favorite Stress Management Practices?

There you go. Here are six of my favorite stress management practices that are keeping me sane (or, at least, saner than I would be) during this time of uncertainty, frustration, and fear.

What are you doing to stay calm and keep your stress as low as possible? Comment down below and let me know!

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