When they said the new decade would bring change, it was quite the understatement! What a crazy time we’re all going through. In these unprecedented times, it’s completely understandable if it gives rise to increased feelings of stress and anxiety. The majority of us have experienced nothing like this before in our lifetimes, and it can be unsettling to say the least. During these unusual times, we can take solace in the fact we are all in this together. That as a community we have the power to create a huge change. That despite being physically isolated, we are not alone. The power of modern technology has the incredible ability to connect us more than ever before. United through our video calls, instant messages and Netflix watch parties – our sense of community is more valuable than ever.
Amongst the craziness, we wanted to share our top ten strategies for managing the stress and thriving in your isolation bubbles.
- Create a supportive environment
Now more than ever is the time to set up a positive home environment. Perhaps it’s time to rearrange the lounge, have a good deep clean or go the full Marie Kondo. They say a cluttered environment creates a cluttered mind so try to keep your space tidy and organised. Most importantly, separate your sleeping environment from your working environment as much as possible. Our brain is very good at associating our surroundings with certain activities so it’s important to keep our bed as only a place of relaxation and pleasure (no work zone).
- Set yourself up with a good routine
Humans are creatures of habit. A good routine keeps us grounded and can actually save us stress and energy because we don’t have to worry about how to go about each day – it is already laid out by our routine. Building healthy habits into our routine is a great way to help manage day to day stress. For example, starting your day with a positive morning routine such as yoga, meditation or a moment to enjoy a nice calming tea can be really helpful.
- This includes a good sleep routine
Sleep will always be one of the most crucial aspects of health and effective stress management. Sleep is like the central pillar of our health house. If we knock that down, everything else collapses. Poor sleep creates poor energy which often leaves us feeling more stressed and less likely to make positive health choices throughout the day. Ideally we want to keep the same sleep routine as well. This helps with our circadian rhythm and creates less stress for our body than changing up our sleep cycle every night.
- Nourish a good mindset
A positive mindset goes a long way in terms of how we experience and respond to stress. Aside from making a conscious effort to think more positive thoughts, practices such as meditation and breathwork can help with this. When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, take a moment to reconnect to your breath and find a moment of calm. Breathe slowly and deeply into your belly (diaphragmatic breathing) and allow yourself to take a break. This practice helps to bring us back to the moment and reduce our focus on whatever is causing us stress.
- Eat well
Nutrients from the foods we eat are like the fuel our body runs on. Higher quality nutrients result in better performance. Nutrients play key roles in the production of our happy neurotransmitters, the way in which we experience stress and the production of energy in the body. Up to 90% of our serotonin is produced in the gut, therefore eating the right foods for our unique body and looking after our gut health has the potential to significantly impact how we feel. Certain nutrients such as B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc are among those required for various stress (and energy) pathways by the body. Topping up these nutrients may not only improve our responses to stress, but also help to avoid deficiencies of these nutrients which may be in higher demand.
- Keep moving
We could write a whole blog on its own about the benefits of movement (hint: coming soon). Keeping active is so important for not only our physical health but also our minds. It also gives us a great way to take a break and literally shake away any stress we are holding on to. A morning yoga session, a 10 minute walk (around your bubble) at lunch time, dancing in the kitchen while you cook dinner – try to incorporate movement into your day in a way that’s easy and enjoyable.
- Stay connected with your loved ones
Modern technology is in many ways a blessing right now. Despite our physical isolation, we are still able to video call our loved ones, send photos, and connect via online apps and games. The internet allows us to be more virtually connected than ever before. As social beings, this is important. Set aside time for social wellbeing check ins such virtual coffee dates, or a cheeky wine and chat with the girls. It’s a great reminder that we’re all in this together and despite the distance between us and our loved ones, we are not alone.
- Take breaks from social media and the news
Many of us are relying on phones and technology more than ever right now. As mentioned above, this isn’t actually a bad thing. Not only does it allow us to remain connected with our friends and family, but many of us have also embraced the new normal of working from home. That being said, increased exposure to social media and/or the news, can sometimes make us feel more stressed. It’s great to stay informed, but be aware of how this makes you feel and recognise where you may need to take a break. Having one day a week which is social media free or even a couple of hours a day can really help with stress management.
- Still go outside
There is nothing like fresh air and a bit of vitamin D to help you feel better. While we are still quite limited on the extent of our outdoor activities, even just a 10 minute sit down in the backyard can make a big difference. If it’s possible for you, try eating your lunch or having your morning coffee break on the chair outside rather than inside at your desk.
- Take time out for you
Remember: you are not working from home. You are at home during a crisis, trying to work. Or even more, you are an essential worker in an exceptionally stressful work environment. It is perhaps more important than ever to take time out of your day and do something that you enjoy. Whatever it is that helps you to feel more happy and grounded – make time for that. It might be as simple as reading a book or doing some baking. It’s important to fill up your cup before you can give any extra to anyone else.
Take care while finding your new normal amongst the chaos. We’d love to be out there supporting you in person, but in the meantime we are here for you online. Reach out to us via social media as Tonic Health on Facebook and @tonichealthnz on Instagram.
Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for educational purposes only. Please do not use this information to diagnose or treat any health concerns you may have. This information is not intended to replace the advice given to you by a qualified health professional. Get in contact with a Tonic Health consultant or a relevant health professional if you need guidance on your individual health journey.