Four tips to ease post pandemic stress
Summer is upon us. The world is buzzing once again. Life appears to be moving forward toward a new normal, and there is excitement in the air. Within the joy and excitement, you may find moments where you experience feelings of anxiety, sadness, fear, confusion, or discomfort. If you are questioning these feelings and thinking “Why now?” Know that you are not alone. Just like when the pandemic first started, we are entering another period of transition. Transition means change. It means giving up what was known and leaning into the unknown. While you are adjusting to these changes, you may experience thoughts of self-doubt, increased stress and the activation of our body’s fight, flight or freeze response. This response to change is normal and part of our body’s natural way of protecting us. Here are a few steps you can take to help manage stress and successfully navigate through this newest transition. Tip #1: When stress increases, increase your coping mechanisms! Think back to what helped you through your last major transition. Perhaps that was when the pandemic first began, or maybe more recently you switched jobs, re-located or expanded your family. What helped you through that time? The best indicator of successful coping in the future is using what worked in the past. Consider adding some of these “go-to” strategies back in to your day or week to help ground you during these changes. · Setting a regular routine · Journaling · Meditation · Connecting with your support system · Exercise · Learning a new skill Tip #2: Validate your experience and cope ahead! It is important to validate and name our feelings rather than push them down or pretend they do not exist. When you name your feelings, encourage yourself to see each feeling as information – extremely useful information. If you are experiencing anxiety, invite yourself to check in and be curious as to recent or upcoming stressors that you are having to navigate. Are there concerns about your health and safety attending a large gathering? Questioning fitting in or returning to in-person activities? Describing the event or situation and identifying the automatic thoughts and emotions can help to create a plan to cope ahead of time with the situation and plan for success. Tip #3: Avoid social comparisons and focus on your strengths! You may have a thought that other people in your life are managing this transition better than you are. Keep in mind that we do not know the internal experience of those around us unless we ask or they tell us. Be wary of social comparisons. Although not all social comparisons are negative, they often contribute to judgmental and critical thoughts about ourselves. If you notice your inner critic showing up, try replacing the thought with a strength-based statement. · “I am resilient.” · “I have the tools to support myself through this.” · “I have supportive people in my life who I can lean on.” Tip #4: Lean into your values and feel good! Values guide us through life. Research has proven that when we live by our own values and choose behaviors based on our values, our mood improves. Make a list of your values. Invite yourself to use this list to identify your priorities and create a guide-book towards decision making. Here are a list of values to consider:
· Safety · Spontaneity · Altruism · Compassion · Belonging · Creativity · Success · Strength · Health · Spirituality · Growth · Equality · Thoughtfulness · Diversity · Balance · Happiness
We recognize everyone has had their own unique experience during the pandemic and will have their own process moving through this post-pandemic transition. If you or someone you know would like to talk through any of these strategies with a therapist or need additional support, please reach out to make an appointment: firstname.lastname@example.org.