//Dr. Fariha Eshrat//
The world often feels like it’s spinning away from us especially at this time when the Covid-19 pandemic has changed our sense of normalcy. In this article, we will discuss some coping strategies to help you exhale, reset, and maintain your daily activities when overwhelmed.
Staying at home has been the number 1 activity recommended for all since the coronavirus of 2019 started. Governments have ordered citizens to stay at home as much as possible and practice social distancing to curb the spread of the virus. To a generation that has been used to going out for work and travel, staying at home has been a challenge to most of us.
With the constant changes (advisories every day!) and hurdles that we face nowadays, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and lose focus. Despite how excessive productivity can be emotionally exhausting and lead to burn out, it is always important to continue the everyday tasks that come our way. Below we are listing some helpful ways to manage and overcome the stress that this pandemic has created.
1. Journal 20 minutes daily for four days. Focus on what exactly you are feeling and address your emotions by writing them down. You will establish a cause for the feeling and respect that your emotions. This can also help you identify and correct your coping mechanisms to better strategies that allow you to move forward from your problems. Discover creative hobbies too like painting, doodling, and drawing, if you’re not into them yet.
2. Break tasks into smaller parts. There are so many things to do, and so little at the same time. Which ones to do first? Imagine the tasks in your mind and slowly divide them into smaller tasks that can be done according to how easy or hard they are. Create a checklist that you can tick off so that you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment in seeing tasks being finished.
3. Listen to your body and what it craves with regards to sleeping, eating and staying hydrated when you are stressed. However, always respect your normal routine. A schedule helps ground your day and divide it into morning, afternoon and evening even though it all feels like a long stretch. Leave your bed as soon as you choose to wake up and open the curtains to let in sunlight. Sunlight is both important for your internal clock and a useful tool in treating depressive symptoms. Eat healthy too. Now is the time to think about stopping smoking.
4. Limit stressors when possible. If news of the current situation stresses you out, limit your use of social media apps and stay out of the internet for hours. Busy yourself with things you love to do. Learn new hobbies or go back to activities you can easily do at home. Occupy yourself with whatever absorbs you and detaches you from the worries such as playing games, watching movies, talking to friends by phone or getting immersed in work.
5. Meditate and exercise. Breathe slowly and hold your breath for a few seconds before you exhale. This can activate the parasympathetic nervous system which causes a calming effect. Exercising a minimum of 150 minutes a week for adults and 300 minutes a week for children can also release endorphins and other calming chemicals to help regulate mood.
6. Express gratitude. Practice this by writing lists at the beginning of the day and also by reaching out to one person a day who has added goodness to your life and tell them what they mean to you.
7. Use behavioral activation worksheets. They are available online and really helpful when you feel so much distress, sadness or emotional fatigue that performing daily tasks have become exhausting.
As you strive through trying times, always remember that you are not alone and that you have been through many past struggles that have built you to overcome more in the days to come. Stay connected with your support system, be kind to yourself and never shy away from seeking more help. Every emotion you experience is valid, how you act on them by utilizing different coping mechanisms creates the lasting effects.