Tips to Managing Stress during the Uncertainty of 2020
The new COVID case rate has created a crisis situation in many communities. That increases the stress on all of us. Plus, many states and counties are imposing new lockdown restrictions. Right before the holidays! That makes none of us happy. It may feel like this pandemic will never end. That kind of stress is challenging to deal with. Read the following tips to discover what you can do to reduce stress and increase your happiness as we move through these difficult times.
1. Limit News Consumption
Whether you get your news on social media, the phone, the radio, or TV, limiting your exposure is key to managing stress. The 24-hour news cycle is overwhelming during stable times much less during challenging ones. Humans weren’t designed to have a flood of information coming at them all the time. Research shows that excessive consumption of news, including social media, leads to poorer mental health outcomes especially in times of crisis. Yet, most of us find it hard to put down our phones. It’s as if we are afraid to miss out on something important. This tendency is so strong that it has spawned a new phrase, “doom scrolling” to describe our habit of scrolling through social media or news outlets looking for negative events to justify the anxiety we feel. Such depressing news triggers more sadness and depression and our mental health decreases as the pattern becomes habitual and cyclical.
What can we do? Set limits on the amount of time you spend consuming news in all its forms. Instead of searching news feeds or Facebook anytime you have a free moment, design a structured time period when to do so. Schedule other activities that are active and fun to take your mind off of current events and help life feel normal for a while.
2. Be Kind to Yourself
Many of us are harsh when we talk to ourselves. Our internal voice can be our friend or our foe and it often alternates between the two. The voice inside our head comments on events and even thoughts that occur as we go through our day. These thoughts are not random occurrences; they are comments about our actions, feelings, and beliefs. They are very personal.
These thoughts color our internal landscape and influence the way we feel about our life. There are times in which our voice can be very judgmental and critical about the way we think or what we do. That is the antithesis of compassion. Although none of us are perfect, none of us benefit from these kinds of comments. Sometimes we say things to ourselves that we would never say to someone else. It would be too unkind.
Kristen Neff, a self-compassion researcher, defines self-compassion as being kind to ourselves and it includes more than just what we think or say to ourselves. She believes that by “going easy on ourselves” we can experience less conflict and more peace of mind. Watch these videos to learn more.
The Three Components of Self-compassion by Kristen Neff, PhD
Be Your Own Best Friend: Self-compassion for Stress Reduction by Christiane Wolf, MD, PhD, Mindfulness and Insight Meditation Teacher at InsightLA