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10 Ways to Relieve Stress During the Pandemic

There is no doubt we are in the midst of a stressful time. With the outbreak of COVID-19, many of us are worried about the health of ourselves and loved ones, and about finances. There is no magic wand to make it all go away. I wish there was. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had a multitude of feelings. At times I’ve felt anxious, and sometimes I’ve been bored. I’ve even been dealing with feelings of guilt, but at times I’ve felt happy too. I spent some time thinking about the things I was doing that were making me feel better; things that helped me handle the stress better. This top 10 list hones in on the things that have made a difference for me, and I hope there is even one thing that you find helpful.

10. Limit the news. This one has been shared so many times, but it helped me a lot. About a week into social distancing and isolating at home, I was going a bit bonkers. I was so worried for the people who were sick and for the people who could get sick, and I was pretty (correction - very) anxious about finances. I was waking up looking at news stories and it was making things worse. I think the nail in the coffin was a story about how dire the economy was looking and how many small businesses were closing down. Of course, since I had just started a business, I was looking at it personally and also, I was thoroughly annoyed because the same news was making us afraid of the virus (I know, par for the course). I shut it down then. I only look once a day right now, and it’s to look at the numbers. I immediately felt less stressed!

9. Look at social Media. We can get so wrapped up in social media, and sometimes that’s not in our best interest. But I’m taking time to look at more Tik Tok videos, which are hilarious. My neighborhood’s Facebook page has shared some great things, and I’ve found some new accounts to follow that were created because of the pandemic, like 2GoFW – a site where locals share the best places to get carry-out in Fort Wayne. It’s a great way to support your favorite local restaurants and find some new places to go when all of this is over. Also, if you’re looking for new ways to share stories on IG, check out the Stories Edit App from Planoly. They have tons of free story pages you can customize, and right now there’s a Get To Know Me section with fun things to share about what you’re watching, pages you like, what you’ve been up to (slinging back martinis), etc.

8. Get physical, physical. You can exercise, sure, there are a lot of ways to get your workout on if you are grieving the gym. Do a YouTube yoga class, or search POP Sugar workouts. They have plenty of short videos that get your heart rate up without spending too much time away from the shows your binge watching. BUT you don’t have to be working out to get moving and release some endorphins. Do some yardwork, or challenge your significant other to an arm-wrestling match. I’ve personally been practicing my karate kicks, which I know nothing about. I’m pleased with the height.

7. Get dressed, man, you’ve been wearing sweats for weeks. You may not be going out for dinner, but you can dress like you are. Ok, you don’t have to wear a cocktail dress or nice slacks and a blazer. Maybe just a pair of jeans is dressing up these days. That’s cool. Put on those jeans, do your hair, shave. And now that you look nice, you can get on a video chat with someone other than your relatives.

6. Get creative! Are you a little bored if not suffering from cabin fever? Try something new. Have a picnic in the backyard when weather permits, or set up a tent and build a fire. Get out an old gaming system and see if you’re still a master. Make something you’ve always wanted to, but never got around to, like a dessert or IDK – medical masks. Play never have I ever on a group chat. Make a playlist of all the number one songs on your birthday from ages 0-18 and have a Saturday Night Dance Party. Whatever you do, make it fun or make it count.

5. Try aromatherapy. If you have essential oils, use a diffuser or add a little carrier oil and place some on your wrists. Lavender, Jasmine, Basil, and Patchouli are great for stress and anxiety. If you don’t have oils, try candles or a stick of incense. You can have that on in the background, or find a quiet space and listen to meditative music.

4. Try a spiritual cleanse. You don’t have to be a spiritual expert or practitioner to perform a cleanse. Everyone can ground. I have my way of doing that, but there are so many creative ways to work on getting yourself centered (link below for some interesting ways to do this). If you want to have a little fun, try an egg cleansing. Look up how to perform one on your search engine, and then how to read the egg after. There are various ways to do this, so just pick one that feels right to you.

3. Face your fears. When you’re ready, sit down and look at the things that are stressing you out and start to work on them. For me it was the finances and an inability to be there for my older, immune compromised parents. I figured out how to best see my family during the outbreak and I’m doing my best to support the cast of people who can be there more, so they know how appreciated they are. After that, I looked at the finances and started to get to work. I’m not out of the dark yet, like so many others, but I do not feel scared anymore – at least for now. If I do feel that way in the near future, I’ll face my fears again. I am reminding myself that there is always a solution, you just have to figure it out.

2. Make preparations for what to do when this is all over. I don’t have the answers for others, but maybe it would help to see my approach. What have I learned so far during the outbreak, and how has it put things into perspective? How can I use that to put a plan in place, so when I start working again I can come out swinging instead of crawling and licking my wounds? Who can I involve to help? How will I execute the plan? Not only has it helped me feel more prepared, it’s also a good distraction and I feel more productive.

1. Don’t be hard on yourself. If you think there are people out there just living their best lives right now, you’re right, but I’m not one of them. It’s common, I think, for some of us to feel stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed. It makes some of us eat more, or drink more, or just feel unmotivated. Worse yet, on top of feeling those things you also feel guilty for not being more productive, or not working out more, or not learning a new language, or not cleaning and rearranging the furniture. Man, forget all of that! If you start to feel those things, change the script in your head. Think of something positive about yourself and your situation. It’s ok to feel unmotivated and stuck – at least some of the time.

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