We are all feeling the stress of the current global health crisis, whether we realize it or not. Clearly the healthcare workers at the forefront of this illness are under incredible stress. So, too, are the people who have found themselves suddenly out of work due to the massive scale of social distancing and business closures.
But even those who are simply inconvenienced by this crisis can be feeling the stress, too. We are watching our retirement accounts drop, we cannot help watching the news, and we face uncertainties about what will happen next in this crisis.
The mere uncertainty about the future is causing all of us to experience at least a low level of persistent anxiety, and that anxiety is likely affecting our ability to focus. In general, I’m pretty cool under pressure. I can think clearly and act deliberately during a time of crisis. This crisis has been the same: I know what steps need to be taken to handle what needs to be handled for my family and my business.
And yet, each day, I can feel it in my chest: a sense of foreboding, perhaps, but definitely a low simmer of anxiety. It has wreaked havoc on my ability to focus, so I have had to rearrange a few of my beliefs and routines in order to find a way to cope and move forward.
If you are feeling the same, perhaps these tips will help.
Assess and take inventory
In life, you cannot chart a new course or make a new plan without first assessing where you stand today. This crisis is no different. While it may feel even more stressful to shine the light on where you are, it is truly necessary. Evaluate your financial situation and take inventory of your sources of income and your expenses. Make a list of things you can sell or services you can provide to create additional income. Likewise, assess your expenses to see where you can make cuts now to ease the financial burden.
Also take inventory of household products and pantry items. Minimize your need for shopping and spending by thinking creatively about meals you can make with what you already have. Don’t forget to poke around your bathroom and kitchen cabinets to determine what you can use up for cleaning, disinfecting, and personal hygiene before you need to shop again.
Taking inventory will hopefully eliminate the scarcity mindset that is pervasive now. You likely already have more than you thought you did, in every way.
Be kind to yourself
We are all under stress at this time, even if we aren’t on the front line, so to speak, of this health crisis. Recognize this fact and don’t beat yourself up when you just aren’t up for your normal workload. Watch out for negative self-talk. Replace those negative thoughts with positive, kind thoughts.
Rest, breathe, go outside
Part of being kind to yourself is to be sure you are getting enough rest. Sleep longer if you can, and take naps to sneak in some more rest. When your body and mind are under duress, more rest is imperative.
As I wrote last week, I catch myself feeling tight in my chest and realize I am breathing too shallowly. It’s taking effort to remember to stop, close my eyes, and take some deep breaths. This shallow breathing is how I know that I am feeling anxious, and lately, I’ve definitely been feeling more anxious than usual.
Fortunately, we have been experiencing mild and lovely weather the past week or so. But even before that, I have found it very healing to spend time outside, rain or shine. Deep breathing is easier outside. Being in nature is also a good reminder that we are not the only beings on this planet, and our woes are diminished in the context of the big, wide world.
Exercise some discipline
It’s easy to take the prescription of “be nice to yourself and rest” to the extreme, of course. Life must move on, even when it feels like everything is grinding to a halt. There are bills to pay, health to maintain, work to do, and things that need our attention. Sometimes the kindest thing we can do for ourselves is to exercise some self-discipline.
Sure, spend some quality time on the sofa streaming movies. But get your work done, get some exercise, and tidy your house first. Leaving work undone will fester and increase the negative thoughts you have about yourself. Do what needs to be done and then get some rest. The rest and relaxation will be all the more satisfying as a result.
How about you? How are you handling the stress of the moment? Share below! Or if you want to start a discussion with some like-minded friends, join the free SimpleMoney Community on Facebook to share your thoughts!
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