For many of us, day-to-day life is normally filled with busy schedules, endless deadlines, weekends stacked with activities and social engagements, and little unstructured time. Almost overnight, it seems, things have changed. Our societies have been asked to take measures to protect those must vulnerable among us, and to stay home, socially distance and self-isolate. The fears, uncertainties and challenges of these times are very real and can't be overstated. Yet, as with any challenge, there may be some surprising and unexpected benefits conferred by the necessity for so many of us to isolate ourselves at home for the time being. For those of us who can take the opportunity, maybe it's time to chill.
Yes, staying active and being connected to our loved ones, friends and larger communities is so important to our health... and so is taking time to breathe... and relax. Our bodies adapt to various types of stress in our lives. Often, we don’t even feel “stressed” because the feeling is so normalized as part of our lives. Yet in this time of extreme uncertainty and, for so many, very real fear, risk and anxiety, it is extra important to take steps to manage our stress levels.
Some things that you may start to notice during your time of social distancing and self isolation are salt & sugar cravings, increased desire for caffeine consumption, poor sleep, fatigue and poor food choices (which could be due both to stress, anxiety or depression, and the lack of availability of some of the staples and the healthier foods we are accustomed to having easy access to). If you recognize any of these impulses or behaviours - be gentle with yourself! Too MUCH unstructured time can be almost as anxiety-producing as too little, so try to set up a daily routine for yourself, even if there is no external need to do so. Within that routine, try to set aside at least an hour a day for some relaxation and self-care. Catch up on your favourite magazine, read an engaging book or even soak in your tub each day, and give your body and mind a chance to relax and lower your cortisol levels. Your body and mind will thank you, and chances are, you will feel better able to weather the changes and challenges wrought by this global health crises.
Wishing you and your family good health and peace in turbulent times.