Life is truly uncertain now. There are all manners of social stress around us. Now, in March 2020 we well know the political challenges, the global COVID-19 crisis, and economic uncertainty which add to personal challenges of family, work, caring for others, and general health considerations. It is a lot.
We work too hard, we do too much and our calendars are full. Our lives, indeed, may be unmanageable for many different reasons. This is STRESS. When you have trouble discerning reality from being driven by emotions, that is STRESS. When you must make decisions every single moment about going to the store, maintaining face-to-face community with others or retreating from the closeness we enjoy with others, we face isolation and STRESS. These things can overwhelm the healthiest of beings. And mostly, we’re not all firing on all cylinders – we’re not always healthy in all layers of our being. The physical, energetic, psycho/emotional, wise, and spiritual bodies may be out of balance, which spells STRESS.
While we may acknowledge the STRESS condition, we may just push through it. But there is are costs. You may suffer from a weakened immune system, feeling out of sorts, being short tempered, and feeling alone. What can you do when these costs feel overwhelming? Even in this time of “social distancing” (which can challenge mental wellbeing for some of us), there are things you can do.
Yes, you can still find exercise. While you may have to take a few days or weeks off from yoga studios or gyms, you can walk around outside, dance in your kitchen or try YouTube videos of new exercise forms. Just get moving, since physical movement is one major relief for depression.
Try new stuff! Learn new things and exercise your cognitive brain with novel ideas. Read a new genre of fiction, listen to non-fiction audiobooks or try reading e-books. Learn a new craft or art form. Why not work on the hobby project you have set aside? Learn a new language? Whatever you do, feed your brain.
While we may not get together face to face as often, be with your friends. See if you can go beyond a quick text and try a video call (reread NEW STUFF above). Stay in contact with people who support you, love you and lift you up. Please, don’t rely on social media alone for your connections. That choice may prove detrimental in the long run. For those of us who rely on our 12 Step, Refuge, or other recovery programs for our sanity, we have In The Rooms and other online resources to keep us in the right mind.
AWARENESS OF THE PRESENT:
Yoga, meditation and focus on the right-now-nature of everything you do can become one way to relieve stress. Avoid forecasting the future or ruminating about the past. Be NOW, and breathe. Remember you can only breathe in the present; you can’t recover lost breath from the past, nor pre-breathe for the future. If you do nothing else, focus on the NOW of the breath.
The gift of wellness comes from awareness. Be aware that stress is not useful. It doesn’t make us faster, stronger, more aware, or “better.” As much as possible, keep in mind those four tools of addressing and redirecting your precious mind, body and spirit away from toxic stress.