6 Tips from a Doctor for Stress Management During Coronavirus Quarantine

Home (self) Improvement

Don’t panic. Calm down. You just need to chill. 

These sentences have one thing in common: no one needs to hear any of that nonsense right now. Habits and routines meant to help us persevere through anything have been completely disrupted. It’s one thing to have a morning routine, as so many hard-working leaders in the world do, but it’s something else entirely to sustain that through a global pandemic. 

More than 22 million people have filed for unemployment, as of April 17. Moms and dads are trying to balance working from home and homeschooling children for, what some states are calling, indefinite amounts of time. People are dying alone in hospitals all over the world.

I beg you to please give yourself some grace if you’re feeling the stress of it all. Why? Because we all are. If there’s a silver lining to be had from this unprecedented crisis, it’s the world coming together by staying apart. And there are tangible things we can all do to relieve stress during this challenging time.

While these tips may seem obvious, it’s never been more important to be intentional about the things you’re doing to stay on top of anxiety. I hope you find them helpful, and please let me know if they’ve been working for you!

Find Ways to Stay Active

It might not be true for everyone, but I know there are those of us who really never thought we’d say the words: I miss the gym. It’s a challenge so many regular gym go-ers are facing, particularly those who prefer group exercise classes or rely on the variety of weights and machines offered at fitness centers. And, in some areas, even going for a walk outside is frowned upon right now, because of the risk of not being able to practice safe social distancing. 

So what’s a gal to do? It’s time to get creative. It could be the perfect time to try that Beachbody class you’ve been seeing your friends posting about. Or, in many cases, group fitness instructors are taking to social media to do at-home versions of their classes. 

The point is, find something you like and commit to doing it for at least 30 minutes a day. Moving your body changes the science of what’s happening in your brain, releasing chemicals that put your mind at ease and reduces, or even prevents, stress.

Treat Yourself with Little Things

Obviously you can’t go all out like our beloved Donna did in Parks & Recreation. And money might be tighter than ever. Try making a list of 10 little things that make you happy and choose one every single day. 

Examples could include reading that personal development book that’s been collecting dust, taking a warm bath, putting together Legos with the children (or by yourself, that’s fun too!), or indulging in a yummy snack every so often. 

Ideally, your list should include things that you did regularly before the world started to shut down. It will warm your heart and bring you a sense of normalcy, which may help keep anxiety at bay.

Find a Way to Help Someone Else

This pandemic is hitting everyone differently. For some, it feels a bit like that staycation we didn’t have time to plan. Others don’t have enough time in the day to keep up with the demands of trying to do all the things. Whatever side of the equation you fall into, the research stands. 

Taking some time to find a way to help others has scientific health benefits for you. Studies have shown that people who volunteer on a regular basis report being happier and having a heightened sense of well-being. Now is the time to make a difference in someone’s life, even if it’s as simple as picking up the phone to call and check on your widowed grandmother.

Develop a “New Normal” Routine

Whether or not things return to the normal we knew before, setting up a structure to your day will help manage your stress. It will most likely be completely different than before, and that’s okay. 

Be kind with yourself as you think through how to approach this, and know going in that not every day will be perfect. But setting up a rough schedule for yourself will help you take some control in a situation that feels incredibly chaotic right now. 

Effort and attitude are two things that you DO have control over in these times, and always. You have control over how you are reacting to the world around you. Embrace it. 

Embrace things that bring you joy – if you look for them throughout your day, you will find them. 

Ask for Help if You Need It

Now is not the time to “be strong.” It’s okay to be not okay. However, this may be the most important tip of all – if you start to feel uncomfortably depressed or anxious, please consider reaching out to a trusted health professional. Homicides and suicides are on the rise all over the country, and that is something we can’t ignore. 

There are treatment options available. Take them. It’s never been as important as it is in this moment for you to seek the help you need if you need it.And, as you already know, I’m always here for you. Please never hesitate to reach out with questions or even if you just need to talk through a challenging time. Trust me, I won’t tell you to “just chill.”