In today’s unsettling environment, people’s lives have changed significantly. If you don’t manage it well, dramatic change can be stressful and interfere with your mental health.
The disruptive nature of change, along with the unknowns that accompany it, can be uncomfortable because it’s human nature to prefer the status quo. Just think about the habits you’ve developed over the years, including what (and where) you eat, how you make your daily commute and what types of entertainment you seek out. People are generally creatures of habit because familiarity provides some comfort and order in life.
However, change is often beyond our control, and a practical way of coping is to find the positives instead of stressing over it. For instance, if you have school-aged children temporarily studying from home, it’s an opportunity to be more involved in their education. Or, maybe it’s disappointing not being able to visit your favourite restaurant, but the flipside is you might be inspired to learn new culinary skills and enjoy healthier, more cost-effective meals at home.
You control your attitude and actions
Change is what you make of it. You can choose to be open-minded and embrace change, or you can dread change and make yourself unwell. Chronic stress takes its toll on your body and mind, potentially weakening your immune system and leading to physical and mental illnesses.
Fortunately, you can take action to help cope with stressful situations and stay resilient through trying times. Here are some examples:
Stay on schedule
- Try to keep some routine in your life to “anchor” yourself and provide a sense of normalcy amid changing conditions. For example, if you usually buy a coffee to start the day, then make one (or two). If taking a walk is part of your typical lunch break, do so whenever possible.
- Go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time, if possible, and get enough sleep.
- Maintain a healthy work-life balance and resist the temptation to work longer hours simply because you’re saving on commuting time. Take regular breaks, don’t let work intrude on your personal time, learn to say no when required, prioritize tasks, delegate work and share home duties like cooking and childcare.
Reframe your thoughts
- Stop your imagination from determining how a certain change will affect your life. Think about the situation rationally and find the good in this change.
- Curate the content and news you consume, as it impacts your emotions.
Manage your overall health
- Stay as physically, mentally and emotionally healthy as possible. Eat the right foods in reasonable portions and at appropriate times.
- Engage in regular exercise and other physical activity – every little bit helps!
- Maintain strong interaction with family, friends, neighbours, colleagues, etc.
- Enjoy hobbies, leisure-related diversions and other methods of relaxation.
- Meditate or practice yoga or tai chi, as they can be good for body, mind and spirit.
- Listen to music that comforts you, energizes you or puts you in a good frame of mind.
- Avoid “Zoom fatigue,” which is the constant pressure to focus intently during an endless barrage of video calls. See if some meetings aren’t necessary or can be done by phone or email. Multi-tasking while on video calls or staring non-stop at the screen, will add to your stress.
Help is available
If these coping strategies still leave you stressed, consider discussing your feelings with family members, close friends or a therapist/mental health care professional trained to help people manage stress and anxiety. If you need support, please get it!
Mental and physical stresses are inevitable – the current environment is proof of that. However, when you’re able to manage stress effectively and cope with change, you will maintain the mental and physical wellbeing that is central to a happy, fulfilling life.
Here are some helpful resources to check out when dealing with various types of stress: