Some people say they feel as if they are living in a movie. The streets of New York are empty, non-essential businesses have closed their doors, Broadway is dark, flights into and out of the country are almost non-existent, and as of today, 80% of Americans have been ordered not to leave their home except to obtain essential services, such as groceries or medical care. Still further, millions of Americans are attempting to work from home while homeschooling their children and trying to keep themselves and their loved ones safe from contracting the COVID-19 virus.
To say that these are stressful times is a tremendous understatement.
Despite the reality that we—as a global community—are living through unprecedented circumstances, we all must do our part to keep calm and carry on. Panic and raised levels of anxiety can neither protect your immune system nor reduce your exposure risk. To help you channel your inner calm at the center of the storm, follow the advice below.
- Download a Meditation App. If you have never had the time to experience the benefits of meditation, embrace the age-old breathing technique now. Apps like Calm and Headspace walk beginners through progressive mindful meditation techniques. Even if you only spend two minutes every day stepping away from the chaos of your new work-life balance to focus on your breathing, you can reduce your stress almost instantly and promote your emotional health. Remember that as with anything new, meditation and mindful relaxation take practice. If at first it seems bizarre or silly, try again. With repetition, you’ll soon find that coming back to this practice is soothing and helpful.
- Laugh and Play. If you are among those who are working from home, you may need to find an ideal balance between a regular workday and your home life. It can be easy to feel the pressure to keep working outside of a regular eight hour day when your workspace is your home space but establish a time to wrap up work and do something that challenges your creativity, or that promotes laughter and levity. Play hide and seek with your kids, attempt a 1000 piece puzzle, rewatch your favorite 90s comedy on Netflix, or play a board game with your partner. Not only does laughter improve your mood, but it also strengthens your immune system.
- Get Active. Your gym may be closed, but you still need at least 30 minutes of activity three to five times per week. Walk your dog, jog through your nearby park, or do an at-home online yoga routine. Exercise produces good-for-you endorphins, which help you sleep and reduce stress.
- Turn Your Bathroom into a Home Spa. If you usually treat yourself to a day at the spa to de-stress, bring the spa to you. Light candles, play relaxing music, and soak in the tub. Give yourself a manicure for an extra feel-good indulgence.
- Put Your Feelings in Writing. If you find yourself unable to sleep at night out of a fear of the impact of COVID-19 on your loved ones’ health, your students, your staff, and our economy, put your anxiety in writing to get it out of your system. Write in a journal or talk to a compassionate friend. It is healthier to express worries than attempt to bottle them inside where they can grow and intensify.
If you try these five techniques and find that you are still struggling to control your COVID-19-related stress or anxiety, talk to your doctor, or a certified mental health care provider. Many are now offering telemedicine services to ensure you can seek the care you need without leaving the safety and comfort of your home.
Please feel free to share these ideas with your staff, teachers, parents, and community!