The coronavirus pandemic affects us all, whether it’s directly or indirectly, so it’s important to figure out ways to reduce stress and prevent us from feeling overwhelmed.
Set Realistic Expectations
There’s this expectation that you have to still work full time, stay connected to all of your friends and family, take care of your kids (if you have them), manage your household, and somehow feel OK knowing that there’s a pandemic and all of our lives have changed. Whether it’s other people setting these unrealistic expectations on you or yourself, it’s important for your mental health to set realistic expectations for what you can manage during this time. It’s important to be kind to yourself and understand that you may not be able to accomplish everything in a day that you once used to. So give yourself permission to set the bar lower that’s more realistic to your current needs.
Set Boundaries (And Stick to Them!)
It’s important to know your limit and when “enough is enough.” If you feel overwhelmed by the idea of video chatting with a group of friends, don’t do it! It’s acceptable to decline the invitation, just be honest to your friends and yourself. Do what’s right for you and don’t feel pressured into doing something that sacrifices your mental health. You are allowed to set time limits and only spend as much time with them (even if it’s virtually) as you want. If you are trying to create a new routine for yourself, you are allowed to stick to it. Whether it’s making time for self-care, your family, or a hobby, you have every right to follow a schedule that you’ve created.
Be Flexible & Spontaneous
Although it’s good to try to create some sense of normalcy through routine, remember it’s important to be flexible and spontaneous. Trying to juggle everything can be stressful. If you have kids at home, it can be even more nerve-wracking to adjust to their new schedules. Give yourself permission to not have a strict schedule and go with the flow. If you attend a group video chat, you don’t have to stay the entire time. You are allowed to excuse yourself at any time during the call based on how you feel in the moment. It can be hard to predict how you’ll feel in the future, so listen to your inner self and trust your instincts.
Don’t Feel Guilty for Saying No
Don’t self-sacrifice to please others. It’s important to put yourself first and to not worry about pleasing everyone (or anyone!). You don’t have to attend every group chat or social distance gathering. Give yourself permission to say no, even if you don’t have other plans and feel like making time for yourself instead. If others get mad, it’s not your fault. You can’t control their emotions, just like they can’t control yours. The most you can do is to communicate your needs and let them know how/if they can help. During this time, we are all feeling the stress of the pandemic – we don’t have to add feelings of guilt to that. Remember – be kind and compassionate to yourself.
Find Time for Self-Care
One of the best ways to be compassionate towards yourself and reduce stress is to take care of yourself. Be in tune with what your body and mind are telling you. This current way of life is still new, so we have to create the structure needed to find peace in all of this. This can be done by knowing the importance of and practicing compassion and kindness towards others, ourselves, and the world around us. Even during “normal” (non-pandemic) times, you can’t take care of others if you’re not taking care of yourself. This situation is empowering us to develop a strong internal sense of self-care. With fewer outside distractions and commitments, we have the time and space to increase our self-care. If you start to feel stressed or anxious, take some time to relax. You can talk to your therapist (remotely), meditate, do yoga, exercise, read, or whatever helps you find inner peace.
Be Understanding of Others
As we work on increasing our compassion towards ourselves, we have to remember to be compassionate towards others. Not everyone’s social meters are the same. If you are a very social person, understand if your friends and family members want more time to themselves. We’re all struggling in different ways. This time shouldn’t be considered a test of your relationships, but a time to practice understanding and compassion. Don’t take it personally if you want to hang out (in person via social distancing or through video) and the other person doesn’t want to. Give them space, just as you might need others to do the same for you.
Remote Therapy Can Help You Feel Less Stressed
If you find this overwhelming, if you’re scared to say no to your friends or family, or if you need help making time for self-care, therapy can help you feel empowered and be a little less stressed during these uncertain times. Therapy can be beneficial for everyone, even if you don’t have a diagnosable mental illness. It gives you the tools to cope with stress, anxiety, depression, and the challenges of this new way of life. Contact Dr. Heather Violante or call (954) 391-5305 (EXT. 8) to learn more about how therapy – even by video – is a great way to feel less overwhelmed and more in control during this pandemic.