Our team hopes that this message finds you all healthy and happy. The outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the return to work may be stressful for many people, as we have seen and maybe even experienced first-hand. Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and cause strong emotional distress in individuals, especially with the uncertainty and unpredictability that still exists regarding the virus. We are a community that LOVES control and at this moment, many of us may feel that we don’t have the sense of control that we would desire in a situation such as this. Coping with this newly presented stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger. Below are five suggested ways to minimize your stress and encourage a sense of control.
1) Develop a daily routine and follow it: We are creatures of habit and our brains respond very well to specific, attentional targets. Perhaps the greatest sense of control that we can cultivate for ourselves is in a daily routine; it serves as an anchor for us. Despite what is going on in the world around us, we can find comfort in knowing what time we will eat, workout, sleep, etc. Coping with times of unpredictability may feel more doable when we have structure (i.e. control) in place. Don’t forget to add a little fun into your day!
2) Move daily. Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood as well as improving self-esteem and cognitive function. Research also shows that exercise may alleviate symptoms such as social withdrawal. A study at New Mexico Highland University found that the force from our footsteps alone can increase the supply of blood to the brain; researchers at Stanford found that individuals test better on measures of creative thinking both during and after a walk; and Duke University identifies that walking could be an effective treatment for some patients with depression. We may not have access to a gym at this time, but we do have access to our feet. Take a walk! In addition, there are many online resources available at this time that you can leverage to ensure that you get your well-being on.
3) Be proactive rather than reactive with your thoughts: If we don’t control the stimuli in our
environment, it will inevitably control us. With the abundant amount of news, information, and resources being posted not just daily, but seemingly by the minute, it is easy for one to “lose themselves” in the chaos, in the unknown. Gain control by limiting your inputs. Perhaps turn off unnecessary news notifications, unfollow people or accounts on social media that are increasing your stress and/or anxiety, and only equip yourself with information from trusted sources. You get to choose where your attention dwells, choose wisely.
4) Stay connected: During times of stress, we thrive more effectively in company and with
support. Try to stay in touch with friends and family as much as possible. We are lucky enough to have access to technology that will enable us to do just that! If you don’t have friends or family to connect with, there are many resources to leverage via a helpline or online support, such as Better Help.
5) Get your Zzz’s: Many of us may now have greater control over our schedules during this time, which means… you no longer have an excuse not to get the proper amount of sleep that you need. Sleep is not just healing physically, but also mentally and emotionally. This is perhaps our greatest tool for controlling our stress and/or anxiety. Just as you will create and follow a daily routine - create and follow a sleep routine! Going to bed and waking up at the same time daily is incredibly valuable for our mental health. Remember that the recommendation for the average adult is 7-9 hours of sleep/night.
Many of these suggestions may feel easier said than done, which is why Dr. Colvin is available to assist you in any areas where you would like to optimize your own performance.
As we help our numerous clients cope with the unique stressors inherent in today’s uncertain world, we are thrilled to offer the services of Dr. Kate Colvin, PhD. As Director of Human Performance, Kate’s role is to provide training and education around various aspects of mental and physical wellbeing, including stress management, effective thinking, mindfulness, attentional focus techniques, goal attainment, organizational leadership, memory and learning enhancement, and sleep. Kate has assisted hundreds of LSDS clients, and is available to help you navigate the path ahead. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about what Dr. Kate Colvin, PhD, can provide for you.