Managing COVID-19 Stress

 

By Wendy Barber, Middle School Nurse

We are all experiencing symptoms of weariness during the pandemic. So often we focus on getting past it, that we don’t put enough energy into living well in it. We don’t want to feel defeated by the stress and grief of extended restrictions. We are tired of “making it work” and “just getting through the day” and then we feel guilty for the ways we tell ourselves we might be failing on all fronts. We all need the “serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” But come on...what can we really DO with pandemic lemons each day without throwing the lemonade out the window?

When unavoidable circumstances make us feel like passive bystanders, we can feel empowered when we know that there are tangible things we can actively do in response. COVID-19 fatigue might feel like rain in Seattle—inconvenient, plan-altering, depressing, and constant—but here are some things to remember and strategies to help weather the storm. 

You’re normal

All of our bodies release stress hormones that help us react in emergency “fight or flight” situations—they protect us and prepare us for action. But when the stress response keeps firing, day after day, month after month, the chemistry can negatively affect our energy, physical abilities, sleep, and emotions. The weariness is legit.

You control the input

The way to the heart is truly through the stomach. Keep your body chemistry working in your favor by eating immune boosting, energy sustaining foods, and DRINK WATER. Experiment with the best fuel to keep you engaged, energetic, to sleep well, and stay active. If “you are what you eat,” I’d really like to be a superfood!

Find ways to laugh

Laughter is the best medicine (it’s totally proven by super-smart people)! Throughout the day, cultivate laughter in your home—it does a body good in the short and long term. 

  • Physical Benefits: Boosts immunity, increases blood flow to the brain, relaxes muscles, contributes to a healthier heart, and lowers stress hormones.
  • Mental Benefits: Eases anxiety and stress, improves moods, strengthens resilience, produces more joy and happiness, changes perspective, and releases endorphins.
  • Social Benefits: Strengthens relationships, helps reduce conflict, promotes bonding, improves cooperation, helps you to feel comfortable with each other, enhances teamwork.
  • Medical stuff, chemistry, and funny bones: "Stress relief from laughter? It's no joke."
Serenity now!

Seinfeld, anyone? In the soil of monotony grows exhaustion, cynicism, and apathy. Do you want some Miracle Grow to make yourself more fruitful? Getting quality and adequate sleep is key for our hormones, cell function, energy level, and overall body/brain health. Additionally, during the day, there are quick activities that can help you to focus, act more intentionally, and react in productive ways. 

  • Several times a day, take a series of slow, deep, breaths. This allows the lungs to fully expand, transfer, and circulate oxygen which helps every organ in your body. It also calms your nerves, reduces stress, and increases motivation overall.
  • Don’t forget posture. Simply sitting up straight and changing positions regularly helps your body, brain, emotions and stress. "The Power of Good Posture."