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STRESS in the time of Coronavirus

How are you feeling? It’s a question that circulates frequently among (F)friends and

family. That’s because we care about each other.

The coronavirus has taken an emotional toll on just about everyone, even the most

resilient. It has forced us to distance from the people we love and learn to cope with daily living

in new ways. Add this to the underlying tension we experience with our daily dose of news,

concerns about environmental shifts, and worry about jobs, food, and our children’s education.

It’s no wonder we feel stressed in the face of so much uncertainty.

Now, more than ever, it’s important to find ways to manage your stress. If you don’t,

stress will undermine your health. Research shows the impact of unmanaged stress is significant.

It weakens the immune system, which makes you more susceptible to illness. Stress affects

mind, body and spirit. It can cause fear, loss of control, auto immune issues, elevated blood

pressure and blood glucose, inflammation, fatigue, depression, anxiety and loss of energy. That’s

a long list and it’s only the tip of the iceberg. But there are ways you can intentionally manage

your stress. Here are a few self-care reminders…

 Connect with nature on a daily basis. Delight in the beauty around you. Spring

blossoms, flowering trees, bird songs remind us of the cycles of nature and give us hope.

 Exercise. Physical activity can pump up your endorphins and other neural chemicals that

help you feel better. Take a walk daily, garden, houseclean or try out one of the many

online exercise videos. Get moving. Be active.

 Meditate. Find some time to quiet the stream of jumbled thoughts running through your

mind. Focus instead on the present moment. Or, think of 3 things you’re grateful for. Or

reflect on a favorite poem or Bible passage.

 Laugh. Read some jokes, tell some jokes, watch “I Love Lucy” or other classic

comedies. Laughter lightens the mental load.

 Social contact. Reach out to others. Zoom, FaceTime, or place a phone call, write a note

or letter. Social contact is a good stress reliever because it’s a distraction and our friends

provide support for life’s ups and downs.

 Breathe If you’re feeling anxious, take 10 deep breaths. Think about something relaxing

or focus your breath, taking slow inhales and longer exhales. Research shows intentional

breathing exercises calm the mind, lower your heartbeat and improve blood pressure.

 Write. Write, scribble, make lists – whatever comes to mind. Don’t worry about

grammar or spelling. Just write. This is a great way to release pent up emotions and

feelings. Once you’re done, you can toss it or save it to reflect on later.

 Eat a healthy diet. Make sure you have a lot of healthy fruits, veggies and whole grains

in your diet. Limit the caffeine, alcohol and sugary snacks.

 Sleep. Stress can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. A poor night’s sleep can

affect mood, concentration and energy level. If you’re having trouble sleeping, establish a

relaxing bedtime routine. Read a book, listen to soothing music, practice deep breathing.

 Listen to music. Get involved in a hobby you enjoy. Distract your mind from

coronavirus and turn your attention to something that takes you away from your worries.

 Step away from social media, cable news and other online news sources. Sometimes,

it’s just too much! Ban it all for 24 hours and see it makes a difference in how you feel.
 Volunteer. You may not be able to volunteer in community efforts to respond to

COVID-19 right now, but perhaps there are ways to help on a smaller scale. Donate to a

favorite charity, leave a treat on a friend’s doorstep, or call someone to ask how they’re

feeling. Even a small gesture can make a big difference in someone’s day and help you

feel better about your own.

Please remember, your Meeting Cares committee is available for you. We welcome your calls

should you need any assistance or if you just feel the need to chat with a friend.