How to manage stress during times of chaos

I woke up today morning in panic.  The stress of this pandemic hit me like a ton of bricks.  We are living in an unprecedented time.  Most of us have no context for this experience we are having.

Everything is different. What do I need to do today? Are my family members healthy? How long will this go on and how will business be affected? Where am I going to find toilet Paper? Lol. We need skills for coping with stress or at least a reminder to apply the ones we already have.

The one thing I know is our circumstances and obstacles are opportunities for growth. Even a pandemic. We are all  unique, with unique perspectives, life experiences and aspirations and so this will affect each of us in a very unique way.

How we experience an event, such as this pandemic, will be based on our history, unique life experiences, and situations.  However, our brain is designed to  In any new territory there is always some anxiety and fear that comes up. O.

Let me share three things with you to assist you in stress management in these times of uncertainty.

  1. Managing your fear.
  2. Look for positives.
  3. Create rituals or habits.

Managing Fear and Stress

When you are faced with uncertainty or a threat or perceived threat, your brain goes into flight or fight response.

What is fight or fight response?

It is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival.

I have had plenty of fear creep in the past few weeks. A simple exercise is to take 15 minutes and write down all of your fears, worries, and concerns.  Now, pause, close your eyes and take three deep breaths.

Breath in through your nose and into your belly.  When you exhale, breath out through your mouth as if you are breathing out through a straw.  Breath out slowly.  Try to make your exhale twice as long as your inhale.

This breathing technique sends a signal to your brain that you are safe.  It will help you move from your sympathetic nervous system to your parasympathetic nervous system which is called your rest, digest, and create.   You can even through in a few yawns and stretches to stay in a relaxed stay

Read your list and ask yourself these questions:

Do I have any control over this?

Is this a real or perceived threat?

This exercise is very helpful to identify what can we control.  In reality, we can only control our thoughts and our responses or behavior.  This list helps to sort out and compartmentalize. It brings clarity and manageability.

There are plenty of things we can control. We can wash our hands, be careful not to touch our face, eat clean food, take immune building supplements. The things we cannot control are opportunities for letting go.

How do I personally do this?

The first step is simply recognizing that I am not in control of these certain things. The second thing I do is to give them up to my higher power, the universe. That will look different for each person. This is so valuable and helps us to put attention on the things we can change.

Focus on the Positive

The second thing I’d like to share is to look for the silver lining. Look for the positives. Look for the opportunities for growth. Every circumstance is an opportunity for growth.

I was in a Zoom gathering of about 9 friends recently. One friend asked “can we all go around and tell the group what has been the best positive outcome so far of this Covid-19”? It was a beautiful exercise with very profound answers. It changed the entire energy of the gathering.

There was a shift of energy from fear to possibility for growth and gratitude.  We were able to access more ideas and were more motivated by focusing on the positive.  Ask yourself what good is there in this for me? There will most likely never be another time and opportunity like this. What is the gold nugget for me?

Creating Structure

Sheltering in place has taken away our structure. Our days are now spent at home.  There is no gym to go to.  No classes to attend.  Events to attend.  We are on our own to exercise, cook, and motivate ourselves.

A stress management strategy is to create routines and rituals that work for you. Here are ideas for creating structure in your life.  There are exercise classes online that can help you create more structure into your day.  You can use meditation for stress management.

Meditation is a simple routine to incorporate into your daily rituals and is excellent at relieving stress.  We can all take advantage of these gifts.  Anything that can help reduce stress is key and high priority.

Another simple routine stress management strategy is to get out in nature. If you can’t walk in nature, look at pictures of nature and get some plants for your room.  Breath deeply. Laugh.

Did you know that one minute of anger weakens the immune system for 4-5 hours and one minute of laughter boosts it for 24 hours? Rituals and habits help to create stability and some predictability. Have fun with it. Do the things that bring joy.

If you could get in shape by doing any activity what would it be? Do that. You will be way more likely to do it if it’s fun!

This is a time to reach out and ask for support.  We are physically-distancing which can feel isolating.

If you are feeling overwhelmed or can’t figure out where to start, you can always email or call me.  I would love to support you.  I want to be of service to you in this unique time and always. You can reach out to me via email, phone or text. We need to stay in the practice and I am here for you.

Remember that there are all sorts of great things happening in this time which seems to be filled with negative news. Just google covid 19 positive news and you will find some.

Here in my hometown the owners of a vodka business has rallied donors of bottles and hydrogen peroxide to help him to make and distribute free hand sanitizer to hospitals, firefighters and other essential businesses. The silver lining is shiney! Drop into your heart and stay positive!