By Steve Blanchard - March 13, 2020
Saying that the start of this new decade has been stressful might be a major understatement. And that stress has only increased as news of the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on events, communities and daily lives continues to inundate our newsfeeds.
COVID-19 has upended our lives in many ways and that feeling of no control can only add to the anxiety of day-to-day life. There are, however, ways to handle your stress as you navigate a potentially overwhelming situation.
According to Moffitt Cancer Center patient wellness coordinator Sharen Lock, stress relief can be found using the following techniques.
Take five slow, deep breaths and count them as you go. After the fifth breath, let your normal breathing pattern return and take note of how you feel. If you are still anxious, repeat the exercise.
Relax your body and mind
Take three to 10 minutes a day to relax. Choose a calming or meaningful word or short phrase while you situate yourself quietly and comfortably. Relax your muscles and breathe slowly at a comfortable pace. Silently say the word or phrase with each exhale. If other thoughts come to mind, gently shift your focus back to your chosen word or phrase.
Enjoy guided imagery
Create an image in your mind that is safe, peaceful and relaxing. Perhaps it’s an image of a sunset or your childhood room. Use any image that brings you a sense of calm that distracts you from your anxiety.
Meet yourself with kindness
Pause and reflect on a difficult situation for a few moments and reflect that you are not alone. Place your hand over your heart and say to yourself, “may I be kind to myself in this moment, may I give myself the compassion I need.” Let go of any self-critical thoughts and allow the feeling of kindness to soak in.
Reflect on gratitude
Sit or lie down quietly in a relaxed posture. Close your eyes and bring awareness to your heart center. Begin to relax into the rhythm of your breath flowing in and out. Now take a moment to reflect on your day and bring to mind something you are grateful for – it could be a person, a situation or a simple pleasure that brought you joy.
Improve your wellbeing with these self-care exercises
- Reflect or write about what makes you feel grateful.
- Journal about your thoughts and feelings.
- Nurture your spirituality through meditation or prayer.
- Read inspirational quotes, poems and stories.
- Watch uplifting and funny movies and shows.
Download these apps to your phone or tablet
Insight Timer, Calm and Headspace provide relaxation and meditation exercises. More apps can be found using search terms like “mindfulness meditation” or “sleep.”