Tag Archives: stressrelief

How to Reduce Stress During Social Distancing

With schools letting out, sports cancelled, and other social events suspended, our everyday routines and sources of entertainment have changed because of the coronavirus.  In addition to working from home, you may have more family members in the house, all day, every day, with no end in sight! It’s normal to feel anxious right now, so I thought it would be useful to talk about how to reduce stress during social distancing.  

Social distance written on chalkboard with arrows

It pays to keep your distance, but it can be stressful.

What happens to your body when you’re stressed

Stress is your body’s way of defending you from danger.  

When you’re under stress, your body is on high alert. The brain triggers the release of adrenaline and cortisol to prepare the rest of your body to “do battle” with what the brain considers a threat. 

Worrying about your income, schooling kids at home, and your health can lead to constant stress, which is a problem. Prolonged stress constantly exposes cells to adrenaline and cortisol which can lead to weight gain, higher than normal blood glucose levels, and foggy thinking.  

Though fatty, sugary foods, and alcohol, seem like the perfect antidotes to stress, they are temporary bandages for your feelings.  While there is room for treats, stress-eating – and drinking –  will only make you feel worse in the long run. 

Bowl of beef and bean chili on a yellow plate.

Eat regular, balanced meals to help combat stress.

What to eat and drink to reduce stress and anxiety during social distancing

Eating plans that include lean meat, poultry, seafood, soy foods, and eggs, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables may help ease stress and anxiety.  Try to stick to your usual eating schedule and have meals at a table rather than at your desk or on the couch (at least most of the time!).  Eating balanced meals and snacks throughout the day prevents sagging energy levels that can cause you to feel jittery and to reach for sugary treats, which can create a cycle of poor eating. 

Speaking of jittery, don’t rely on caffeine to boost energy levels. Caffeine can increase feelings of anxiety. Do stay hydrated with other beverages, such as milk, flavored water and decaffeinated tea, to help feel your best. 

Food can help support your immune system, which is located mostly in your gut. Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables, combined, and at least three servings of whole grains, and refined grains daily to support overall health and the beneficial gut bacteria that protect you against harmful bacteria and viruses.  Avoid taking probiotic supplements because it’s unclear which ones are useful for healthy people, and taking the wrong one could work against you. Instead, have a serving of probiotic-rich foods, such as yogurt, every day. 

Also, take it easy on the beer, wine, and cocktails. Alcoholic beverages add calories and they interfere with the restful sleep you need right now. 

Read: What to make with cereal

 

Woman sleeping in bed with white sheets.

Sleeping enough is one way to help reduce stress.

Why you should get enough sleep for your immune system

Those of us working at home may be saving time by not commuting. Use those extra hours to your advantage by getting enough sleep.

Adults need about seven to eight hours of sleep every night. Adequate shut-eye is refreshing and will help you feel more energized and ready to take on the day, no matter what’s going on in the world, or in your house!

In addition, sleep supports the immune system and being well-rested helps regulates your hunger hormones, which promotes easier weight control. 

If you have young children who wake up early, my sympathies. (I have three children, so I know all about that.) Do try to go to bed when they do on most nights so you don’t wear yourself out during this time of social distancing. 

Every storm runs out of rain, including the one we are in right now caused by the coronavirus.

What to do when you’re bored and stuck at home

I find a good sense of humor helpful in trying times.  Laughter is relaxing, and it’s especially fun to laugh in a group because it brings people together. Laughter also benefits your immune system by helping to counteract the stress response.  

Listening to a funny podcast that’s not about the coronavirus is a good mental escape from stress. So is talking with a funny friend by phone or zoom. If binge-watching is in your future, I’d steer clear of dark shows like The Handmaid’s Tail and Hunters for now in favor of lighter fare like Jane the Virgin and Zoey’s Incredible Playlist. 

Mother and young daughter laughing outside with binoculars.

A good laugh is great fun, and laughing outdoors is even better!

How to exercise during social distancing

In all likelihood, you can’t go to your gym, pool, or exercise class right now. However, you should still get regular physical activity.  Easier said than done, I know, especially if you have kids at home.  

Physical activity reduces stress and improves mood. Take a run or walk outdoors by yourself if you need some “me time,” or get outside with your family at least once a day. The fresh air and sunshine will do you good.

If you prefer to exercise inside, check out online resources as many are free right now. 

Beef stew with carrots in bowl with cornbread.

Offer a delicious and nutritious meal to someone in need.

How to help other people when social distancing

As I watch shoppers hoarding toilet paper, bottled water, and cleaning supplies, I am reminded that we are all in this together. The coronavirus pandemic is particularly hard for older people and those with mobility or financial problems who can’t just run out to the store to get what they need, only to find empty shelves. 

Staying connected to those who are alone or have fewer resources is more important than ever now, and it may improve your mood. Helping others takes the focus off your anxiety while easing their loneliness.

Check in with older neighbors and relatives and see if they have the food, medication, and other medical supplies they need. You can call, text, email or FaceTime, or pop in briefly without touching anything and sit far away during your visit. Remember to wash your hands before your visit and wipe down surfaces as you leave. Assure them that they can contact you if they start getting symptoms and that you will check in on them regularly. 

Consider cooking a meal or two for those in need. If you don’t know anyone that requires attention, consider donating to your local food pantry. Food pantries are vital to feeding low-income communities and the elderly. 

What are you doing to relieve your stress these days? Let me know what works for you! 

 

 

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