Surviving Social Isolation
and Managing Stress
Many individuals and families are trying to cope with ongoing social distancing requirements – separation from friends, neighbors, peers, and their extended families. We are finding new ways to work, to school, and to communicate. In addition, families may be dealing with increasing financial pressures as so many jobs have been affected by social distancing requirements.
As stress rises, it’s important to take time for self-care to stay happy, healthy, and sane. Below are some basic tips to keep in mind and some resources to tap into as you move through the days and weeks ahead.
- Take time to exercise
- Even though gyms are closed, try to get in 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day
- Enjoy running or brisk walking (at least 6 feet away from others if you do this outside)
- Try stretching and aerobic exercises at home
- If it’s hard to exercise with kids around, try these tips to get the most out of your workout
- Eat healthy
- Aim for 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day (Ex. 2 fruits + 3 servings of veggies to keep that vitamin C level up!)
- Try making smoothies with your blender – it’s a great way to get in all those servings
- Be aware of the common tendency to begin stress eating. Keep only healthy snacks around the house like baby carrots, almonds, popcorn (without all the butter and salt), and dark chocolate. And, check out this list from TasteofHome.com with 40 great and easy ideas for healthy, kid-friendly snacks.
- Vitamin C is critical in times of stress. During stress, our adrenal glands release stress hormones that trigger our “fight or flight” response so we can cope. Vitamin C is a co-factor in the production of these critical adrenal stress hormones. Lack of vitamin C may compromise our ability to deal with stress. Other nutrients key in times of stress include: protein, magnesium, and other antioxidants like vitamins E and A. The daily vitamin C requirement for women (75 mg) can be found in just 1 kiwi, 3/4 cup of raw green bell pepper, 1/2 cup raw red bell pepper, 1 cup cooked broccoli, or 1 medium orange.
- Disconnect from the news
- While it’s important to stay up to date on current recommendations, tuning in for hours can be overwhelming and heighten stress
- Try limiting your news consumption and taking a break from devices
- Spend some time in prayer, meditation, or deep breathing during the day
- If you can’t eliminate the news, balance it out with Some Good News from John Krasinski or subscribe to the GoodGoodGoodCo, a weekly delivery of very good news. News that will make you smile.
- Connect with others
- Reach out to friends and family members by phone, text, or FaceTime
- Take time to play board games or do puzzles as a family. You can even play with family and friends from afar through online apps – check out these options from Refinery29.com. UNO anyone?
- Try to eat dinner together as a family if you can. Better still, try to prepare dinner together as a family if you can. Great teachable moment and a chance for everyone to pitch in. Food Network has a great section devoted to getting kids involved in the kitchen.
- Get restful sleep
- Maintain a routine
- The consistency of sticking to a routine at least during the weekdays can be especially important for kids. Having no set routine can be very overwhelming for both adults and children, exacerbating anxiety/stress levels and decreasing productivity. Consistency will also help reinforce the foundational pillars of health — sleep, exercise, nutrition, etc.
Working from HOME
For those facing the new challenge of working from home, distractions are plenty and can disrupt your productivity. Many things in your personal environment will be trying to capture your attention – your kids, the dog, laundry and dirty dishes, etc…
It’s important to have a defined schedule and stick to it. Avoid sleeping in or lingering over breakfast, and get to work just as if you’re driving across town to your office, although you might just be walking into the next room. This Forbes.com article offers some great tips for working from home.
Helping the KIDS Adjust
We need to talk to our children about the coronavirus and its effects, but finding the right words can leave us stammering, and struggling to explain terrible things to our children. This article from PBS can help.
We also know this is a difficult time as parents are trying to adjust their routines while simultaneously attending to the daily needs of their children in the absence of childcare and school. This tip sheet has some great ideas for creating and maintaining the structure that will make everyone’s day flow a bit more smoothly. Brookings.edu also offers some good strategies for keeping your kids (and you) sane during this time.
BE KIND to YOURSELF
Lastly, it’s important to remember this too shall pass and that in these times of uncertainty and stress it is essential that we take care of ourselves and our mental health. And, it’s OK to laugh – in fact, it’s recommended. Although these are serious issues we face, laughter can help us relax and maintain perspective on our circumstances. And if you really need a quick and corny laugh, you can always check out the Dad Joke Generator.
We will get through this. Together.
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