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Create your antidote for pandemic stress

You’re not alone. Getting back to managing your pet peeves can help you cope with stress during the COVID-19 pandemic and hopefully lose the quarantine weight. With the pandemic dragging on and on for months, you wonder if it will ever end.  Giving in to this catastrophic or an all-or-nothing thinking pattern, a cognitive distortion […]

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You’re not alone. Getting back to managing your pet peeves can help you cope with stress during the COVID-19 pandemic and hopefully lose the quarantine weight.

With the pandemic dragging on and on for months, you wonder if it will ever end. 

Giving in to this catastrophic or an all-or-nothing thinking pattern, a cognitive distortion or thinking error, means making decisions detrimental to your overall well-being. To add to your woes, this time of the year is stressful enough with high heating bills, shorter days, and cold, bleak winter months to endure. 

Time-tested stress management strategies, meditation or exercising, are, at times, not enough to beat the cumulative stress you’re going through. It’s challenging to find the time, or you feel like not doing anything.

 I find that the best antidote for stress is to get back to your pet peeves, like having a healthier body weight. Going back to a familiar routine like looking at the pros and cons of a weight management plan will give you some semblance of control as you know your pitfalls and how to overcome them. 

Also, losing the excess quarantine gained weight will be a win-win situation as you can then plan to eat the tempting Christmas goodies without the same accompanying guilt you have year after year. 

You say that you’ve tried too many times, with limited success as the weight would come back. 

 It’s all under control.

Why do I say this? Well, you’ve had this thought of getting fitter and have acted on it many times. You’ve made many action plans and have followed those plans diligently until one day when you just took a break, which led to more and the lost pounds crept back.

It’s still not all lost. While trying to lose weight, you tend to adopt a healthier lifestyle as you want to do right for yourself. Have you noticed that you’d gained more control over your smoking? You’re smoking fewer cigarettes or spending less time in front of the television.

Here, mental filter, a cognitive distortion, is at play where you ignore or overlook the positives by dwelling on the negatives.

Accepting the need for change means you’ll have more enthusiasm to make specific lifestyle changes to reach your goal (as per psychologist Steven Hayes’ Acceptance and Commitment Therapy).

Lifestyle changes can be as simple as making a resolve or an intention before serving your dinner to decrease the portion size or forgo the last piece of the cake. 

Meditation helps with making intentions as you feel more relaxed and less anxious after a meditation session. 

You can integrate meditation into your daily routine whenever you get fuzzy thinking or breathlessness. As I always mention, it’s essential to rule out any physical health problems.

You say that sitting down for a meditation session is not possible due to time constraints. Another issue may be having problems in closing your eyes for meditation. 

Keeping these problems in mind, you can start your meditation by concentrating on breathing while focusing on any object or a spot on the wall. Allow your thoughts to flow freely. Once you feel more relaxed, you can do a mental scan of the task you’ve at hand, which can be as simple as getting your dinner ready. You can imagine the portion size on your plate or make a plan to eat the dessert as a snack later on in the day.

You’ll soon find the resilience to be more productive and find joy while resolving your pet peeves.

Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes and should not substitute for consultation with a qualified professional. 

This article was published in the Telegraph Journal

Picture courtesy Unsplash/ Siora Photography

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