All life’s niceties seem to have been taken away. Things we took for granted—going out to dinner, meeting friends for drinks, going to the theatre—all gone. Gone, it seems, like that old axiom, ‘in the blink of an eye’.
And we’re stressed and frustrated that’s for sure.
What’s happening to us in this pandemic is nothing that people in the past haven’t experienced in one way or the other. For some of us it’s a comfort knowing that those people made it through dark times. For others it’s a “that was then, this is now” way of thinking.
We’re just frustrated that our lives have been upended so swiftly and stressed that we can’t get back to the way we were just a few short weeks ago. How do we deal?
Having a coping mechanism helps say mental health experts. That’s an activity we do to seek and apply solutions to stressful situations. Some people learned coping skills as a child from their parents. They saw how a stressful situation was dealt with by the adults in their lives and they carried that into their own adulthood. That can be cooking, puzzle solving, board games, etc.
There are those who use music to deal with a stressor. Listening to music, singing along to it—all are proven to lower stress. The cadence of the sounds seems to calm and soothe brain waves improving your mood. So sing along loudly to your favorite music and enjoy ‘your performance’!
One of the best ways to cope with stress is movement—namely exercise. I’m an avid tennis player and dancer but, truthfully, I hadn’t felt much like moving when it hit week four of social distancing.
Tennis was out—even outdoor courts were closed. Dancing? Nope. Classes canceled ‘until further notice’. So I didn’t move at all, choosing instead to watch movies or binge series shows for most of eight hours a day. Not a good thing and my body felt it.
Grudgingly I forced myself to get up and do some barre exercises, go for a walk, run in place—anything just to move. My muscles hurt as they went from complete couch queen mode to moving again. I hated it! But—
As much as I hated it at first, I noticed that my body was actually feeling better. I didn’t wince when my back hurt as I got up from a chair or curse the tired feeling in my legs going downstairs to the laundry room to wash clothes. It was a good way of coping with physical stress brought on by an object—my body—at way too much rest. My body in motion felt so much better.
Endorphins, your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, are released when you do a physical activity. They trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine but without a chemical addiction. That alone should make us want to do some form of physical activity in this stressful time.
Basically, any form of exercise or movement can decrease your stress. You don’t have to suddenly become a marathon runner to gain the mental benefits of moving your body. The most important thing is to pick an activity that you can do at home and one that you enjoy.
No one likes uncertainty or living with anxiety. It’s not healthy. Do something good and positive for your body and mental attitude. Include as little as fifteen minutes of movement a day into your life. It will make a huge difference in your life.
We all need this right now.