How to Cope with Stress during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Here you can learn six ways to deal with stress

For many people, the existence of the Covid-19 pandemic and the various restrictions that the government has put in place to deal with it have caused a lot of stress. Some of us have had our business suffer; others had their socialization decreased because we were ordered to stay home. Stress can diminish one’s happiness or enjoyment and can cause one to become less focused. Below are some common suggestions to help you cope with stress.

  • Get outside – The outdoors can give you a change of scenery or at least allow you a break from your personal or office space. On the other hand, if natural scenery is not accessible to you, you might find joy in decorating your home or workplace with some plants, watering them regularly and seeing them grow over time.
  • Follow a routine – Keeping a regular routine can be a source of groundedness. Simply having a schedule can be one less thing to have to figure out. Also, setting out important things to do can help to eliminate periods of doing nothing where one is more likely to ruminate (i.e. have a cycle of negative thoughts).
  • Try mindfulness – Mindfulness involves being in the moment, focusing on neither the past nor future but living in the present. One of the techniques used is to breath slowly and focus on each breath. Many people have found comfort in mindfulness and online articles on it abound if you would like to explore it further.
  • Connect to others – Socializing can help counteract the fight or flight response that can be a part of stress. Although rules have been put in place that restrict one’s ability to socialize with friends and family in person, one can take advantage of technology such as Skype, Zoom or WhatsApp to help stay in touch.
  • Physical activity – Exercise is helpful in a variety of ways. Research suggests that it can increase your body’s endorphins, boost your energy and give you more focus. You don’t have to be an athlete or go to a workout gym. But you will get the most benefit from exercise if it is for a period of at least 30 mins daily. But any amount is good. It can include walking to the grocery store or taking the stairs rather than the elevator.
  • Focus on what you can control instead of on what you can’t – Practicing gratitude has been linked to increased activity in the hippocampus, a brain organ that affects stress levels. As well, if stress is being caused by a particular problem, one can choose to take responsibility for it now instead of procrastinating, seek help if needed and make up a plan to tackle it.

But perhaps the most reassuring thing is that, despite how it was once thought that it would take years to devise a Covid-19 vaccine, luckily scientists were able to come up with multiple effective vaccines and our government is working hard to vaccinate us as fast as it can. This gives us hope that the pandemic and the associated government restrictions – major sources of stress – will soon subside and that in relatively little time we will get ‘back to normal.

How to combat a Sedentary Lifestyle during the Covid-19 Pandemic
Find out 10 ways to tackle a sedentary lifestyle

For many reasons, people adopt a more sedentary lifestyle – in other words, a lifestyle that involves a lot of sitting and very little to no exercise. Some factors include aging – the older you are, the more likely you are to lapse into this kind of lifestyle – and modern advances – vehicles decrease the amount of our physical activity in traveling around. But the restrictions put in place to address the Covid-19 pandemic are yet another reason why many people are becoming more sedentary.

A sedentary lifestyle poses a danger because scientific research indicates that it can contribute to chronic health problems such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, mental health disorders such as depression and early death. Physical inactivity reduces metabolism and impairs the body’s ability to control blood sugar levels, regulate blood pressure and break down fat (Medical News Today).

Evelyn O’Neill, a Director at the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center in Boston, is quoted as saying that “Sitting is the new smoking”, underscoring the host of health problems posed by excessive sitting (Harvard Men’s Health Watch). One of the risks of prolonged periods of sitting, in particular, is that it can lead to venous thrombosis in the thighs, a blood clot which can be more serious if it develops in one of the more deep veins of the leg.

Some people, such as construction workers, already have physical activity incorporated into the nature of their work. Many, with office-type employment, can benefit their health by exploiting ways of moving more in their workplace. Fixing a sedentary lifestyle takes effort but is worth it.

Here are 10 straightforward tips on how to stay active throughout an office day:

  • Walk or cycle instead of driving the car to work
  • Invest in a standing desk, a treadmill desk, or a fitness ball chair, or use a rolled towel for your lower back, to improve your posture, build core strength and prevent lower back pain
  • Instead of having a meeting around a conference table, conduct a ‘walking meeting’ instead
  • During long periods of sitting at work, make a practice of standing up every 20 minutes
  • Aim for three 30-minute periods of cardiovascular exercises per week + two 30-minute periods of strength-training exercises per week, at a minimum
  • Take the stairs to your apartment. If you have a house, walk up/down the stairs for exercise
  • If you are taking a phone call from a friend, family member, or work colleague, take the phone call while standing or walking rather than sitting
  • Reduce spare time spent on electronics and increase spare time spent on active hobbies
  • During tv commercials, do pushups or sit-ups
  • Use fitness tracking devices to monitor your daily step count, heart rate, and metabolism

Every bit of exercise counts. A 2015 study showed that simply taking three 5-min walks throughout the day can reverse the harm caused by prolonged sitting to arteries in the legs (Very Well Health).

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