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Mindful Corner: Managing Stress During the COVID-19 Pandemic

We are in a time of undeniable stress and uncertainty. Although we may not feel we have a lot of control in much of what is happening around us as we follow stay at home guidelines, we can control how we react. Try some of the tips below to help manage stress during this difficult time.

  1. Find your go-to stress management technique
    Explore which activity works the best for you to manage stress. Consider deep breathing or guided meditation using apps such as Headspace or Calm. Exercise is also a great stress-reliever and releases endorphins, the “feel good” hormones. YouTube has many workout videos, including zumba, pilates, and yoga. You can also experiment with your own strength training routine using free weights, resistance bands, or your body weight while you play your favorite music. A hobby, such as reading, writing, drawing, or knitting, may also help to relieve stress.

  2. Practice psychological distancing
    In one episode of the podcast The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos, the Yale professor speaks with Dr. Ethan Kross from the University of Michigan’s Emotion and Self-Control Laboratory about this idea [i]. Dr. Kross describes psychological distancing as the language we use in our thoughts: using the third person to talk about oneself, “how is Mary going to get through this?” rather than the first person, “how am I going to get through this?” This may help individuals navigate through difficult times while regulating their emotions [i]. Another way to think about this concept is, what advice would I give my family and friends during this tough time?

  3. Practice temporal distancing
    Dr. Kross also shares this concept on The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos. He suggests to think about how you will feel in one or two years from now, which brings to light the impermanence of our current situation [i]. Consider, how do I want to remember how I handled this situation? Different techniques may work in different settings and for different individuals, so if this technique is overwhelming, perhaps focus on getting through each day one at a time.

  4. Stay connected
    Connect with loved ones via video chat and the phone. Play games over video, or just have each other on the screen while you go through your separate daily tasks or while relaxing. Perhaps for the first time ever, everyone around the world is having a similar experience. Take comfort in the fact that even if you live by yourself, you are not alone in this.

  5. Focus on what you can control
    The physical distancing and stay at home guidelines are helping to manage this pandemic. By staying home, you are helping. Focus on additional things you can control such as preparing nutritious food, engaging in daily workouts at home, and practicing how your thoughts react to the situation.


Reference:
[i] Santos, L. (Host). (2020, March 19). Coronavirus bonus: coach yourself through a crisis. The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos. [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from https://www.happinesslab.fm/coronavirus-bonus-episodes/episode-2-coach-yourself-through-a-crisis

Jenna Koroly, MS, RD, CDN

Jenna is a Registered Dietitian with a Master’s of Science in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology from Teachers College, Columbia University. She has been a part of the Savor Health team since October 2016, and gained further clinical knowledge in oncology while performing nutrition assessments at Northern Westchester Hospital and Amsterdam Nursing Home as a dietetic intern. Jenna provides nutrition counseling for patients in Medical Weight Management and Bariatric Surgery settings at Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston. She is passionate about nutrition therapy and exercise for oncology patients.

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