How to cope with stress during a pandemic

 “All men (and women!) are created equal.” Thomas Jefferson once said.

We know that we all have the same fundamental, universal rights – but are we all physically and mentally equal?  The answer is clearly – no, we aren’t. We all have different physical and mental strengths and weaknesses. And that’s OK.

In the face of a pandemic – called COVID-19, there have been many changes to our lifestyle. Some of us have lived through illness, the loss of loved ones, jobs, and homes. Schools have closed and forced us to become teachers to our children – as we manage a home office at the same time. Those of us who have kept our jobs have had to adapt to a new way of working that often requires learning additional skills. Social distancing, and not being able to travel or cross borders to see loved ones, has contributed to our unhappiness. Uncertainty is our new normal and it’s stressful for us all.

How to cope with stress during a pandemic
What is stress exactly ?

Stress is the way our body reacts mentally, emotionally, or physically to stimuli.

Signs of physical and mental stress

How to cope with stress during a pandemic
Healthy ways to cope with stress

The first and most important way to cope with stress is to take care of yourself physically. As the idiom goes – A healthy mind in a healthy body. There is truth to that. Or as Thomas Edison once said: “Balance is the keyword to optimized health. If there is one imbalanced area, let’s say diet, then other areas will suffer.”

Lifestyle Medicine is a holistic guide that considers both mind and body through main pillars: diet, exercise, sleep and stress management, nature, and relationships and community.

A plant-based diet is one of the best things you can do for your body. Plant-based doesn’t necessarily mean no meat or fish. Also, try to increase your intake of “mood foods” during periods of high stress. Here are a few: nuts, leafy greens, wild salmon, and seeds. Follow the Mediterranean eating plan – voted the best diet globally for three years in a row – and recommended by the World Health Organisation.

The World Health Organisation’s guidelines are that we should get 150 minutes per week of physical activity. That could be in the form of walking, cycling, running, or swimming. Outdoor exercises are best for stress relief. Some additional exercises to relieve stress are mindfulness, yoga, and breathing exercises.

To improve sleep, you need to reduce or cut out things that disrupt the sleep cycle, such as caffeine or alcohol. A routine at bedtime is best: go to bed at the same time every night, avoid using screens in the bedroom, have a warm, relaxing bath, or drink chamomile tea.

Stress can be reduced by reconnecting with nature. Spending more time outdoors enjoying nature can help. Natural light sets our inner clock. People who “sleep with the sun” sleep when the sun goes down and get up when the sun rises.

Especially during tough times, talking about what you are feeling and living is vital. It’s best to speak to people who know and love you or someone who is going through the same problems. Being part of a community brings comfort. 

Are you in confinement or quarantine? Use phone, email, and videoconferencing to connect with people.

Be kind and supportive to yourself. If despite these lifestyle changes, you still feel sad, lonely, depressed, or angry – now there are digital solutions.

Get help digitally

Now digital health tools can help. mynd offers trained coaches and guidance available anytime, anywhere. mynd coaches use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to help you set micro-objectives – an effective way to make progressive changes. You are one free phone call away to start your journey towards feeling better.

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