As Fall descends upon the Northern Hemisphere, news of yet more people contracting COVID 19 fills the newsfeeds; election night is dawning in the U.S. with fears of potentially contentiously responsive behavior looming; and the rocky economy is negatively affecting many people on a global scale.
Without doubt, the world is in the midst of uncertain times but it is possible to survive, even thrive, in uncertain times..
Experiencing feelings of anxiety is not an unreasonable response. When though to worry if your clench jaw / white knuckle response is moving from anxiety and into depression?
Here is a quick quiz to see where you are on the anxiety and depression scale.
If you are between zero and 20, you are closer to the anxiety side of the scale. If you are between 20 and 30, you may want to talk with a professional. (Although even those rare folks who scored zero could probably benefit from talking with a professional. We all have areas that a professional could help us resolve.)
What are some stress management tips that could help reduce anxiety?
We have discussed the 5 lifestyle pillars for a vibrant life in an earlier blog post. Stress is a part of our world, even when we aren’t living in the middle of a pandemic. Learning to reduce stress is a vital skill. We all have an additional reason to reduce our stress right now. Stress negatively impacts our immune systems. Boosting our immune systems, not reducing its effectiveness, is pertinent.
Today we’ll focus on 3 tips to reduce stress.
Stop working & do something fun!
For many of us, we are working at home and living with work constantly. Responding to a few more emails will make tomorrow an easier day you think as you open your laptop after the kids are in bed. I no longer have to sit in traffic, why not use that commute time to finish a looming project? Checking email before bed or when just waking up doesn’t take too much time from my life – or does it?
You, your brain, even your productivity need you to stop work, get off the clock, and play. Have fun. Bake. Connect with friends and family. Start a fun hobby.
Your cellphone and laptop need to recharge their batteries and so does your brain. Your brain needs to decompress from the business and pressures of your job.
Dare we even suggest that you gift your brain a digital free day each week? Oh the creativity you could uncover once your brain is free from the demands of your job!
Do you think you need to be a professional artist to do art? Watch young children have fun with arts and crafts. While I doubt you will find a single professional artist among them, you will witness discovery, creativity, and experimentation.
Art and music therapists use these mediums therapeutically to help adults and children heal, overcome emotional challenges, develop their self-esteem, and more.
Even without the oversight of a therapist, you can receive numerous benefits from being creative. Leave the inner critic at the door and jump into being a beginner at an artistic endeavor. Take a pottery class and toss a clay pot (oh, think of all of the stress you can relieve while kneading the clay!). Learn a new instrument (watch YouTube videos or find an online instructor). While you may not ever reach the level so that you can join your favorite band on stage, you can enjoy the music you create.
The idea isn’t to be the best but to enjoy the process of creating and the journey of learning new skills.
The list of the benefits of a regular meditation practice is long. According to the Mayo Clinic meditation helps not only your emotional well-being, but can also reduce the symptoms of chronic conditions such as Irritable bowel syndrome.
As with art and creativity, you do not have to meditate “perfectly” to experiences. We’ll let you in on a secret. There isn’t a perfect way to meditate. While some people can meditate for a long period of time, other people find that moving during their meditation practice works best.
Mindfulness awareness without thought (stilling those constantly racing thoughts), developing the ability to listen to your inner voice’s commentary without judgement, and learn to create a pause between thought and action/reaction are some of the lessons obtained from a regular meditation practice.
Who couldn’t use a bit more patience these days?
A self-care regime which includes stopping work at the end of the day and adding some play time, art, creativity and establishing a meditation routine will help you survive the stress and anxiety caused by these uncertain times.
To your health.
Dianne Hinton NP, PA, IFM-C