Some may argue that 2020 has not been a comfortable year for many people around the world. In March of this year, things took a turn that shook the entire planet, putting economies in distress and completely changing our way of life. From social distancing to complete shutdown, from remote working to thousands of layoffs and millions on unemployment, we are experiencing something that even experts did not predict just 7 months ago.
Amid these changes and the effect it has on families and personal lives, stress can take root and dominate our mental state. According to ajmc.com, ‘Nearly 7 in 10 employees indicated in a survey by mental health provider Ginger that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is the most stressful time of their entire professional career, which has aligned with stark increases in new prescriptions of antidepressant, antianxiety, and anti-insomnia medications.’ That is an alarming statement which ultimately highlights some underlying issues that COVID-19 may have simply unrooted. Nonetheless, it can not be ignored. How has the coronavirus affected your life since the beginning of the year?
After 5 months of quarantine, of missing friends and family, one can get irritated. After 5 months of not being able to live normally, of not being able to go to places one is accustomed to, of not being able to be in public and interact with other people, the new normal can take a toll on us. And after 5 months of constantly jumping on phone calls and video calls for work, one may want to simply be outside and socialize. I understand. We are all in the same boat.
When it comes to stress and how to decompress during this season, there are many ways to recharge yourself. In this article, I am offering you six ways to take care of you and your brain. These solutions will allow you to take control of your time and lead your life rather than letting boredom and frustration take over.
- Plan your day
I will bring this up again. If fact, it is a reminder for me. When your day is not planned, rest assured that it is lost. This activity will help you be creative, but more importantly, it is your tool to make sure that you do not regret wasting another 24 hours at the end of the next day. Grab your phone or a piece of paper and list some of the tasks, activities you need or want to accomplish the next day. Start with the ‘musts’ and if possible, allocate some specific time to them.
Will you always accomplish what you plan the day before? You may not. Nonetheless, you will end the day feeling more accomplished and proud of yourself.
In an article published by the NIH, the author cites the following benefits of exercising one’s mental health:
- Improved sleep
- Increased interest in sex
- Better endurance
- Stress relief
- Improvement in mood
- Increased energy and stamina
- Reduced tiredness that can increase mental alertness
- Weight reduction
- Reduced cholesterol and improved cardiovascular fitness
Are those benefits not worth investing a few minutes in your day for your health? See, after being cooped up in your home for weeks and months, it is inevitable that it will have some effect on you, whether very minor or devastating for some. Use exercise to decompress, change your mood and reach personal goals.
- Discover new places
Cannot go indoors? Well, the outdoors is all yours. My wife and I bought our house three years ago and in the past few months since the quarantine has started, we have met more neighbors than ever. Why? Because everyone is out taking walks or running. I love hearing the neighbor’s kids play in their backyard and enjoy themselves. If you want to relieve stress, get out and go find new places.
One of my go-to websites is onlyinyourstate.com. Pick a state or a region and boom, you can find hundreds of attractions or activities to enjoy. Two years ago, when travelling to Montreal for a friend’s wedding, we spent a couple days in Vermont hiking and driving to see the scenery after planning everything from Onlyinyourstate. The US is so vast, so diverse and so beautiful that there will always be new places to discover.
If you still can’t decide on a destination, ask a friend or a family member and go together. Be creative, the most important aspect here is creating memories.
In the past 6 months, how many hours of TV have you watched daily? How many hours are you spending on social media? Has it increased from the time you were spending on those platforms pre-quarantine? I would guess that the answer is yes for most people. We are at a time in our lives when we have not experienced this much free time as an adult, especially for those of us who get to work our jobs remotely. Consequently, our disciplined routine has shifted, and we end up wasting time doing anything but being productive. If it has been the case for you reading this post, I suggest you make a shift. In fact, pause and think of books or topics you would want to hear about and learn about. Dedicate 30 minutes every day to read. Educate yourself, improve your skills, find ways to make yourself a better asset to any company.
In fact, if you are stressed, consider what stresses you out and read about it. Take control of your environment by reading.
- Establish a budget
It is simple, you are home, you are probably saving money on gas and transportation. You are bombarded with adds, with coupons from take-out restaurants. You have received a stimulus check and you may be receiving another one soon. Life is simply providing you opportunities to spend money. This is not the time to be frivolous as the future is still unknown. It is imperative to live by a budget during the pandemic. You will be putting yourself in a better position and establishing a new habit. By the way, if your stress is due to your finances, you may start with this step.
Best of luck!