4 Tips for Managing Your Stress Levels
in the New Normal
It’s been over a year now since the coronavirus pandemic began, and suffice to say that it has forever changed life as we know it. COVID-19 has not just threatened our health, it’s also disrupted the global economy and created widespread social upheaval. There are few things it has not turned on its head, from workplace safety to food security for the entire planet. Little wonder, then, that Americans feel as though they are under a tremendous amount of stress. Even those who feel as though they are functioning at their best are still simmering with anxiety over the uncertainty of a situation that, even now, is still developing.
Vaccine rollouts have done much to assuage the public, as has swift government response to some of the more pressing social issues that this global health crisis has laid bare. At this point, though, it is clear that the world as we know it will never be the same again.
Nowadays, the phrase “new normal” is being used to describe life post-COVID, which will likely involve continued vigilance against the virus. Change that is this all-encompassing can seem daunting at first, but there are indeed ways to cope with the stress you feel about the situation. Here’s how...
Information is power, and none greater exists during or after a crisis. Staying on top of the news can give you an invaluable head start should there be any changes to current policies that will affect your life directly, such as business closures in your area, travel restrictions, and emerging coronavirus hotspots, among others. Knowing these things can give you some peace of mind in that they can help ensure you’re prepared for most if not all situations. Simply put, information can take away some of the uncertainty that has left a lot of people feeling powerless in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
This doesn’t mean, however, that you should stay glued to the news all the time. Doing so can actually be counterproductive and put you even more on edge. Make a conscious effort to limit your and your family’s exposure to news so that you only have the most relevant and updated guidance on the situation. It’s also important to make sure that your news sources are reliable. Rumors and misinformation are all too common nowadays, especially on social media. Be discerning.
By now, most people are already well-aware of how COVID-19 spreads and what they should do to protect themselves from infection. Maintaining a distance of at least six feet away from others, using face coverings, and frequent hand washing have all become part and parcel of everyday life in the United States.
Even as the number of vaccinated individuals in the country increases, though, it may still be a good idea to continue these new habits. Additionally, forming new ones to minimize the risks of spreading the virus unknowingly can also be beneficial. These include using hand coverings made with protective antimicrobial fabric so you can touch and handle items while out and about without picking up microbes, as well as making sure to always havean alcohol-based sanitizer on hand. Just because things seem to be calming down doesn’t automatically mean that it’s safe to let your guard down.
The many benefits of regular exercise are known far and wide. Carving some time out in your daily routine for a workout can help you keep off the dreaded Quarantine 15, reduce your risk of developing certain chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, and keeps your bones and muscles strong. Most importantly, though, regular exercise can help relieve stress by increasing the production of endorphins in your brain. Activities that are worth considering include taking your dog out for a walk, jogging, or biking. You can also incorporate meditation into your workouts by doing yoga, or you can engagein a repetitive physical activity that can help improve your focus, such as indoor cycling.
Another way to keep your stress levels low in the new normal is to watch what you eat. The food you choose to consume can have a direct impact on your mood and mental health: overindulging in foods that are high in fats, processed carbohydrates, and sugars can actually stress you out more, as does drinking too much alcohol or coffee. Instead, consider adding more fresh fruits and vegetables to your meals and switching to herbal tea for your afternoon boost.
One of the most devastating effects of the pandemic is how it’s forced so many people into isolation, which has, in turn, led them to feel anxious and depressed. Social distancing protocols have taken away some of the most common means for people to feel connected to one another, which has only made the situation worse.
Don’t let the coronavirus keep you away from your friends and family. There are so many ways to get in touch with others nowadays, from telephone calls to video-conferencing apps. Reach out and don’t be afraid to be open about your experiences. Doing so can be healing, both for yourself and the person you’re talking to.
At some point, this pandemic—no matter how impactful it has been—will end. It’s important to maintain a positive outlook on life and not allow despair to overtake it. Look to the future, make productive and meaningful use of your time now, and you’ll surely feel much calmer.
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