Updated: Dec 21, 2020
Have you come to the conclusion that staying home is wearing on you? Are you noticing you are a bit more snippy with your mate? A little more irritable with the kids? A little more stressed financially then perhaps a few weeks ago?
Since we all have different coping mechanisms for dealing with uninvited down time, disappointments and discouragement, here’s some quick tips to get you up and going again. I encourage you to read this list over with a friend, coworker, partner or spouse and see which of these ideas spark some ideas of your own that you can do alone and/ or together.
As a general rule, I advocate for what I call “ an A/E Buddy”. There is nothing like a pandemic crisis to show us now more than ever we need the accountability and encouragement of someone who knows us best and is able to “kick us with a velvet boot”. Here are 10 things to focus on to help you reduce your stress, improve your mood and attitude, and get through each day feeling and functioning at your best.
1.Move your body every day. Every day do something that moves your body and ideally works up a sweat, for no less than 30 minutes if you are desiring to maintain health, or 60 minutes if you are trying to lose weight! We know just about every health book or coach tells us to do this, but why is it so bloody important? The short version is that the benefits are off the chart! Working out daily is a way to boost blood flow and oxygen to your brain, therefore helping you have a better functioning brain. Engaging in fitness helps increase your energy level, boosts your immune system, strengthens your bones and produces endorphins which is like a soothing balm for your brain. That alone is reason enough to start making this a daily practice!
2. Eat closer to nature and further from the factory. Make the bulk of your diet the good for you foods- the ones naturally bright in color ( sans food coloring, preservatives and additives). They are often the foods that you just have to wash, cut or peel… versus opening the box. The factory foods are the ones full of all the fat, sugar and salt they could squeeze into the box - stuff that makes us sick, inflamed and overweight. Include some good proteins with your veggies and fruits, and voila - enjoy eating life giving foods instead of processed foods which add harmful cumulative assaults to the body and brain.
3. Stay Connected. For those extraverts, you have already figured this out by utilizing Zoom, facebook and facetime, etc. That is fantastic because we are all made for connection. For those that are more introverts, or ambiverts like me… it can be easy to deceive ourselves that we are doing ok being alone so we don’t need connection. Au contraire, we all need human contact. Find a way to spend some voice to voice or virtual time with people you like. It is good for your spirit and is one more way we can reduce stress and enjoy our days. Even God provided a companion for Adam and he was living in paradise before Eve came into the picture.
4. Move away from the screens. Nothing says “I want to drain my energy, hurt my brain and ruin my relationships” faster than too much screen time. Yes, you are home more, but that does not mean that TV, iphone and tablet time have to consume you or your family. Ever notice how grumpy and irritable your kids are after you tell them their screen time is over? That may be an indicator that they are becoming dependent on screens, and perhaps even addicted. Use this time to engage with one another, play games, do art, read, walk, have pillow fights, or dance and sing. Let your inner child out with those closest to you and have some fun away from screens.
5. Reconnect Spiritually, (or with your inner self). This is a perfect time to set aside time daily read your spiritual book. For me, sitting down each morning and reading my daily devotional is like vitamins for my soul. Use this time to reconnect with something beyond perhaps the religion you were raised with, and move toward finding spiritual meaning in your life. Talk to someone you know that has more faith or knowledge than you and pick their brain. You might call a friend or partner to pray with you, or just explore God in your life. If you are of no belief, you might use this time to simply set aside time for reflection. These are historic times. How do you want to come through this? What do you want to be different when we are past this? This is a great time for spiritual and personal reflection.
6. Reconnect with your Emotions. it is perfectly understandable and normal to feel a wide array of emotion during this time. We have all endured a rapid rate of change from the norm that was our daily lives. Many people are burdened and worried about their business and its future, their job, money etc. This is a time to understand we all need a little help. Acknowledge these feelings and express them to safe people so that your feelings don’t eat at you from the inside out. This is a great time to allow yourself to feel what ever it is you are feeling without judgment or condemnation for yourself or others. Self compassion is the order of the day.
7. Pursue a Passion. Many of us now have a bit of extra time not running around like chickens with our heads cut off, to pursue or reconnect with a passion. Whether it’s building train sets, knitting, trying new recipes, or reading up on dog grooming, it is important that we have something outside of work and family that ignites us. I am talking about the kind of passion for something that makes you say… when I am done with_____, I get to go do _____. I have personally had clients who rediscovered a long lost passion, that were able to better manage their stress and weight because they spent more time doing something that matters rather than passing time stress eating. What lights you up that is actually good for you?
8. Create some new solo and /or family rituals. This does not have to be anything major in terms of time or expense. If you are living with a partner or spouse perhaps you might engage in having regular date nights. One of you might cook a special dinner for the other. With the kids, go on a nature walk together- even if only in your backyard or neighborhood. Another idea is creating themed nights… Monday is board games, Tuesday is music and dance night, and so on. Attempt to strike a good balance between alone and together time.
9. Keep a Schedule. Whether you still have a job or business right now, are working from home, or have no officially required work, it is important to keep a schedule. ( refer to the blog post “Organize time to live with Purpose” 4/10). Keeping a schedule will allow you to stay productive, get the important stuff done, and can provide a sense of control of your day, rather than the feeling of “the day getting away from you”. Be sure to schedule what is most important first, then add some flex time for the fun stuff.
10. Practice Self Management. Many of us have learned to manage things outside of ourselves; our checkbooks, our employees if we are in that role, or our little ones. Most of us however, did not have much training in managing ourselves. Think about what you need day to day- sometimes hour to hour. Are you feeling anxious? You might benefit from 30-60 minutes of engaging in a calming exercise such as yoga, meditation or Thai chi. Think about taking 5 minutes several times a day to just deep breathe and focus on the present. Now more than ever, it is imperative that we spend time on self care and self management.
BONUS TIP- Schedule your stress/ worry time. I am not kidding. Instead of walking around most of the time stressed and worried about all the unknowns, schedule 20-30 minutes to allow yourself dedicated time to be concerned. You can think, feel, pray, plan or just worry… but when your time is done, it’s time to move onto the next thing and be fully present for that. In between when worrisome thoughts creep in…. Just remind yourself they’ll have to wait their turn until its time.
We all have opportunity to rethink our priorities right now, and how we want to live. The more we live intentionally, the better quality of life we are able to enjoy. Yes, we are in a crisis, but that does not mean it has to consume us. If we make choices in these 10 areas daily, we can experience better health and wellbeing than we’ve know. Get a buddy on board to help you go from intention to action. Start with one thing at a time. The extra effort you put forth now, will pay off big dividends in the end.