If you’re feeling stress during the Coronavirus pandemic, you’re certainly not alone. During these uncertain times, it’s normal if you’re feeling anxious, scared or overwhelmed.
However, you likely know that stress also has a significant impact on weight management. You might be feeling the domino effect of stress on your eating habits, exercise or even sleep. Maybe you’re struggling with emotional eating or finding the energy to get moving. Maybe you’re sleeping too much to avoid stress, or maybe it’s causing you to sleep too little.
Common sources of stress during this time might include:
- Fear of the unknown
- Feeling a loss of control
- Fear of yourself or loved ones getting sick
- Isolation and disconnection from social distancing
- Limited food and supplies
- Financial concern due to loss of job or income
- Working from home
- Caring for families and children while at home
- Fear for the economy and impact on businesses
Stress Management from the Experts
Some of the best advice we’ve seen about stress management have come from Michelle May, MD, an expert on mindful eating. Dr. May has also spoken before at the Obesity Action Coalition’s (OAC) Annual Convention and is a great source of information on mindfulness for health and weight management (OAC is the Founder of Your Weight Matters).
Dr. May recently hosted a webinar about stress management during the uncertain times of COVID-19. We wanted to highlight a few of the mental health tips and strategies she emphasized.
Limit Exposure to the News:
First and foremost, have a plan in regards to listening to the media to stay informed. If you want to watch the news , choose a specific time to watch and listen to reliable sources. Continue to follow health and safety recommendations, and feel empowered to share with others without spreading more fear and panic.
Establishing Routines and Rituals:
- Have a consistent bedtime and wake-up time
- Get dressed each morning
- If you’re working from home, set “office hours” and schedule break times
Develop a Daily Mindfulness Practice:
- Take time to focus on the present
- Pause and check in with yourself – What thoughts and feelings are you having? What are you experiencing physically?
- Try mindful breathing exercises to relieve tension
- Do mindful movements like yoga, Tai Chi and stretching
Get Outside (While Following Social Distancing):
- Take a walk
- Walk your dog
- Work in your garden
- Take a drive
- Find a beautiful place to sit
Re-frame the Situation:
Even when you feel you have no control over a situation, you are in charge of what you focus on. Try seeing this situation as an opportunity to get quiet, learn something new, catch up on things, or make a change.
- Social distancing does not mean emotional distancing
- Nurture close relationships with those in your household
- Work on communication and set boundaries as necessary
- Reach out to loved ones virtually (text, calling, social media, video)
Build a Self-care Buffer Zone:
- Pay attention to body, mind, heart and spirit
- Eat a balance of nutritious food
- Engage in enjoyable physical activity
- Get rest and adequate sleep
- Keep up with good hygiene
- Engage in art, music, crafts, hobbies, cooking, etc.
- Seek out support and acknowledge your feelings
- Find humor and opportunities where you can
Have a Productive Quarantine:
- Learn to cook or try a new recipe
- Spring clean your house, yard and/or car
- Give blood
- Organize your photos
- Work on your business or hobbies
- Finish your taxes
- Look for things you always wish you had time to do
For more of Dr. May’s tips and tricks for stress management, Click Here.
Sharing Outlets for You to Use:
As Dr. May mentioned, increasing connection is an important practice while social distancing. Are you struggling with stress management during this time? Do you have advice for others to stay grounded and keep calm? The OAC has some great sharing outlets for you to use:
OAC’s Story-sharing video platform
This platform is great for sharing your personal experiences relating to weight and hearing from others about their challenges, successes and lessons learned.
OAC’s Community Discussion Forum
This no-cost platform is great for connecting one-on-one with like-minded people about topics and issues that matter to you. It’s also great for sharing tips, resources and support.