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[ How to Become a Stress Management Ninja during COVID-19 ]There are many reasons why you may be experiencing stress because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Depending on how you cope with challenging situations, you may be experiencing:
Emotional Reactions — Feeling fearful, anxious, distressed, anxious, sad, and/or uncertain.
— Feeling fearful, anxious, distressed, anxious, sad, and/or uncertain. Mental Reactions — Disbelief about the current situation, loss of concentration, fearful thoughts, confusion, distressing dreams, and/or forgetfulness.
— Disbelief about the current situation, loss of concentration, fearful thoughts, confusion, distressing dreams, and/or forgetfulness. Physical Reactions — Feeling numb, headaches, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, and/or nausea.
— Feeling numb, headaches, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, and/or nausea. Behavioural Reactions — Feeling disconnected, withdrawn, or vigilant. You may also experience an increased consumption of food, alcohol, or medication to cope with your feelings.
Are any of these reactions familiar to you? What causes you to feel the most distress? Do you find you are more emotionally, mentally, physically, or behaviourally reactive? Take a moment to jot down some of your reactions to the pandemic. Notice if they fall more into one category than another.
Writing down how you’re feeling and what is happening in your body is important to managing your stress level. Often, when we feel stressed, we know that something feels “off” or not quite right, but we don’t understand why we feel so unsettled. This can cause us to try to ignore the feeling, or push it out of our minds.
As we become more aware of what is happening in our bodies and minds, we can create a healthy distance between ourselves and our stress. Checking in can help us realize, hey, that’s a negative thought, or hey, that’s a pit in my stomach. Instead of trying to push those feelings aside, we can be present with them, acknowledge them, and accept them because we ARE going through a challenging time. As we engage in the process of acknowledging those “very real” thoughts or feelings, they tend to actually decrease in intensity.
Try it Out
Say I feel an uncomfortable sensation in my stomach right now (insert sensation you are currently experiencing to join in on this exercise). Instead of not thinking about it, pushing it down, ignoring it, or whatever you want to call the process of not acknowledging it, sit there with it. It will be uncomfortable at first, yes. Do your best to stay with it. Notice it. Try breathing ‘into’ it. Feel that actually, it’s okay that that feeling is there. You can even give it permission to be there. Observe that as you let it be, as you ‘surrender’ to that feeling, it gradually goes away.
Of course, life, even life two minutes from now, will make it pop up again. And, it will probably pop up frequently for you if you consider yourself quite ‘stressed’ these days. But that’s okay. Each time a signal comes into your body, the signal that something is not quite right, take a moment to pause, and do what you just did in the example.
This kind of training will help you connect your mind to your body, and vice versa. It’s almost like one part of you is your body, and one part is your mind, and often, the mind does not think it’s valuable to listen to the body. But it is, because your body is part of you, and it is telling you something. So go ahead, give it a try. With time and repetition, it will become almost second nature to do this for yourself. And you will see the benefits in your body, your mood, your reactivity, your behaviours and your felt emotions.
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