We are approaching 10 months of living in this global pandemic, which many of us didn’t think would last more than 2 weeks. What this means is that this is no longer an acute stressor, but instead a chronic one and as such, contributes to the creation of chronic stress.
This is fitting because the stresses that have come along with COVID are anything but ‘acute’. Many of us have been worrying about our health and safety, the health and safety of our loved ones, financial insecurities, social isolation, changes to our children’s care and schooling, the inability to snag some alone time away from our families during quarantine…the list varies for some but goes on and on. The longevity of this COVID stress can affect us in different ways, here are some common expressions:
Some of the most common signs of chronic stress include:
- Aches and pains.
- Decreased energy.
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Disorganized thinking.
- Feeling a loss of control.
- Feelings of helplessness.
- Frequent illnesses and infections.
These are pretty big symptoms! Further, oftentimes these symptoms in themselves can lead to additional stress, which puts us smack dab in the middle of a vicious cycle that’s truly hard to climb out of.
That’s why it was important for me to share with you all two of my go-to secrets for combatting chronic stress. These are both reasonably easy to implement tips that can make a BIG difference in your stress levels and overall way of being – especially during the pandemic when stress levels are abnormally high and stemming from causes that are out of our control and with no predetermined end date.
1. Have Self-Compassion
If ever there was a time to give yourself a break and let go of negative self-talk, it is now! If your house isn’t as clean as it normally is, if your children have had more screen time than you’d like to admit, or if you don’t get your workouts in as often as you usually do…be compassionate with yourself!
Let’s face it – there’s a lot going on right now. Even if we set the pandemic aside for a moment, there are still plenty of external factors that are currently demanding our time, attention, emotional and physical energy, etc. Don’t get hung up on making yourself feel bad for everything you aren’t currently accomplishing. Tell that inner critic to take a hike and invite self-compassion in to take its place.
2. Lighten Your Load
My second secret for you is to take on less than you normally would. Give yourself permission to say no to activities and people that leave you feeling drained. We have to counteract this additional chronic stress by giving our nervous system frequent breaks, relaxation, and of course – compassion. Protect your alone time and rest more. Instead of adding to your to-do list this week, I challenge you to see if you can let go of some things instead. Protect your alone time and spend more time resting or doing things that fill your cup.
If you need some additional emotional support around reducing stress, please reach out to schedule a connection call. In the meantime, I will keep sending jewels of wisdom and inspiration to help us get through this together. Together we rise!
Mind Your Strength,
Melanie Shmois, MSSA, LISW-S, is a licensed social worker, holding a Master’s Degree (MSSA) from Case Western Reserve University and a B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Spanish. After spending 2 decades helping others achieve their mental and personal goals, Melanie worked with Master Coach Instructor, Brooke Castillo, and became a certified Life and Weight Coach through the Life Coach School.