Coping with the Coronavirus: 5 Ways to Manage the Stress
There’s no doubt about it: we’re living in a very stressful time right now. We find ourselves facing uncertainties surrounding the economy and daily life. We’re adjusting to new routines driven by widespread social distancing and self-isolation policies and coping with the stress and anxiety created by our inability to visit friends and family in person. Many of us are also balancing remote work with family obligations. On top of all these new stressors, we have the standard stressors associated with proposal work. We are constantly battling deadlines, putting out fires, overcoming roadblocks, and solving problems. Compounded with these new stresses we’re dealing with in our personal lives, these things can start to take a toll on our well-being.
While a small amount of stress can be positive and motivate you to prepare or perform, like when you interview for a job or make a presentation, long-term stress can be extremely harmful. Chronic stress can suppress the immune, digestive, sleep, and reproductive systems. Over time, routine stress can contribute to more serious health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and anxiety. This is why it’s so critical for us to actively manage our stress—particularly during these trying times. This week I’ll take a look at some stress management methods you can employ to reduce the stress and help keep you healthy.
Take a Break From the Stressor
When you feel yourself getting stressed, you should give yourself permission to step away. Allow yourself time to do something else—even if it’s just for 15 minutes. Take a walk and get new perspective, grab some coffee, or read a short story or article. However, avoid reading about topics that may add stress—like the coronavirus, economic state, or other stress-inducing news.
Exercise is a great way to manage stress because it pumps the body with endorphins (i.e., feel-good hormones). Exercise serves as meditation in motion and can successfully improve your mood. However, when we’re busy, finding time to exercise can be stressful in and of itself! Some ways to work exercise into your daily routine include: standing up to take phone calls; going for a walk at lunch; stretching/exercising at your desk; and walking to the kitchen or restroom every 60 minutes. I’m also a huge fan of working in quick, 15-minute, do anywhere circuits into my before- and/or after-work routine.
Smile and Laugh
This is one of my favorite ways to manage stress. When I researched this topic originally, I discovered that our brains are interconnected with our emotions and facial expressions. When we are stressed, we often hold a lot of the stress in our faces. So it makes perfect sense that laughs or smiles can help relieve some of that tension. Some ways we can actively reduce this tension in our faces are: read a funny blog, article, or comic; befriend a funny person at work; watch a funny show; and simply set the intent to laugh and smile more. Read more tips on how to smile and laugh more here.
Get Social Support
Sometimes it is helpful to get social support so you can share your concerns or feelings with another person. When you are stressed, take the time to call a friend or send an email. You can also set up a video-chat for a more personalized environment to talk about your stressors and get advice on how to cope. But make sure to choose someone whom you trust and whom you feel can understand and validate you. If you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to someone you know, you can try out a counselling or therapy service. These services are private, typically a google search away, and are often at least partially covered by your medical insurance. During these times of social distancing, most of these services can be provided virtually as well.
Meditation helps the mind and body to relax and focus. It helps you see new perspectives, develop self-compassion and forgiveness, and release emotions that may have been causing your body physical stress. One of my favorite forms of meditation is deep breathing. Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain, stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, promotes a state of calmness, helps you feel connected to your body, and brings your awareness away from the stress to quiet your mind. I like to use a guided breathing app on my phone, but you can also try the 4-7-8 breathing technique, where you breathe in for 4 seconds, hold the breath for 7 seconds, and then exhale for 8 seconds.
During these trying times, because we are dealing with so many stressors on a daily basis, it’s critical that we take take the time to actively manage that stress. While a small amount of stress can be positive and motivate you to perform, long-term stress can be extremely harmful. Over time, routine stress can contribute to serious health problems. Proactively managing stress can help prevent these negative effects so that we can continue to thrive. Next time you are feeling stressed, try a method that works well for you, whether it’s simply stepping away, making time for some exercise, calling a friend for social support, practicing deep breathing, or something else. Remember that your health and wellbeing are far more important than any work result, deadline, or other issue.
Written by Ashley Kayes, CP APMP
Senior Proposal Consultant, AOC Key Solutions, Inc. (KSI)
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