Now more than ever, we are all feeling the effects of stress in our everyday lives. Not only can stress negatively affect our well-being on a day-to-day basis, but it can also lead to long-term physical and mental health challenges. If you’re experiencing things like brain fog, tiredness, and lack of motivation, you’re not alone. The ongoing experience of the COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge we are all facing together! If you’re looking for ways to cultivate calm and clarity during this tumultuous time, here are some tips that may help.
Introduce Novelty – Have you ever seen a frightening or disheartening news story and wanted to disengage from it, but found it next to impossible to stop watching or reading? This is because our brains naturally crave novelty! When something is new and different, our attention is immediately pulled to it. This mechanism helps protect us by keeping us alert to potential dangers, but it can also lead to increased stress. In regards to COVID, we may find it difficult to disengage from the news or social media. Trying to simply turn off the news or close the tab often proves ineffective, not because we lack willpower, but because it goes against how our brains are wired to behave. One way to help mitigate this effect is to introduce another form of novelty to shift our attention away. Watching a funny video or listening to interesting music can help replace the new, exciting sensory input our brains crave while helping to relieve stress and improve our mood.
Get Oxygen Flowing – Things like gentle movement and deep breathing might seem small, but they can be remarkably helpful when we feel burned out and overwhelmed. Moving our bodies and taking deep breaths both provide fresh oxygen to our brains, which helps us think more clearly, solve problems more easily, and manage our emotions. Try taking a couple of minutes to walk around, gently stretch, or just take a few slow, deep breaths. Some people may find it helpful to set a few reminders over the course of a busy day.
Try a small, Achievable Task – When we’re feeling stressed, burnt out, and overwhelmed, even small tasks may feel insurmountable. One way to help with this can be setting a small, easily achievable task that creates a feeling of productivity and energy when completed. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a backlog of emails, try answering one that only needs a short, easy response. If you need to clean your kitchen, try just wiping down the countertops. You can even write the task down on paper or in your phone, then check it off when it’s completed. It might feel a bit silly, but it can help break the anxiety cycle and propel the day forward.
Give yourself permission to Feel Your Feelings – While we may use these techniques and many others to reduce or prevent “negative” emotions, it is just as necessary to allow ourselves to feel them fully when the time is right. Try to give yourself permission to express strong emotions rather than repress them – cry, vent to a friend, or sing along to music that matches how you feel. We all deserve the space and time to express our feelings, whatever they may be.
We hope you find these tips helpful! While we can’t completely avoid stress and worry, small steps like these can help us lead healthier and happier lives. Our team wishes you a safe, fun, and joyful 2022!