Control your stress level during COVID-19 | 25 April 2020
I want to really highlight the importance of controlling our stress levels; the kind of stress that we are all dealing with right now. Our sympathetic nervous system was evolved to take on short-term acute threats. For example a predator popping out at us. We attack it, we deal with, or run away. In a short period of time, the incident may be over and then we can relax and get over it. So that's the idea of the sympathetic nervous system. But again, in a situation like the COVID-19 we're in now, we don't even know how long this will last, and it's a threat at multiple levels, very significant levels for a very long time. So it's a chronic threat of the most extreme and that is not what our system was meant to handle. In fact, things can break down when the anxiety response becomes chronic. We have to manage our stress level.
For example anxiety can cause a lack of sleep which makes it harder for us to handle worries, which makes it harder for us to sleep, etc., so it becomes a vicious cycle. If we don't get enough sleep, we find life very challenging. So we have to learn how to control our anxiety so that when we're anxious, our emotions are raw, they are at the surface. Especially that fight emotion if we don't find a way to control this, if we don't find a way to manage our anxiety, and especially if this is going on within a household full of people, we should expect some quarrels, some issues to arise, some yelling and some crying, and obviously that just increases anxiety and stress levels.
Maybe having an immune system with a little bit of exercise, gardening, watching TV, spending time with family, setting new goals, doing some writing, singing, learning new cooking skills and a little bit of something to fight back it may actually strengthen your level of resilience. But when that stress is prolonged, when it's stretched out, then it becomes a problem, our immune system literally becomes suppressed. For us to do something about this anxiety reaction, we must understand where our stress is coming from. You're never going to be able to keep it shut down completely, but if you know what’s causing it, you're going to shut it down for periods of time, and that's a very important thing to do.
DWELL ON THE POSITIVE – Get in the habit of looking for the good side of things. Being negative will not only kill your confidence, but it will also destroy the confidence of those around you.
Two simple tools to release your stress level:
Tool 1: Smile!
A smile triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that your outer
cortex needs to function properly and that makes you feel good to help
interrupt the stress response. If you are smiling, it is physiologically
impossible to get upset. Even a little grin will help! If smiling is inappropriate,
just stay neutral. Don’t let the corners of your mouth turn into a frown.
Smiling at others reduces their fears and anxiety. When it’s not appropriate
to smile, simply stay neutral and refrain from frowning.
Tool 2: Say your slogan. Create a phrase that is easy for you to remember
and empowers you to stay up, above stress. Just do it! Stay UP! Let it go!
Whenever negative thoughts and chatter intrude, say your slogan to return
to a more powerful and productive state of mind. You can use slogans to
reconnect with moments in your life when you felt remarkably successful or
powerful or calm or full of love and peace.
We cannot run away from COVID.
Let’s respect the advice of the health authorities. Stay home, stay safe and practice social distancing, which is very important.
For more ideas about how to control the release of the stress hormones produced by the adrenal glands, contact a certified mental coach, psychologist and person with a background in psychology.
Maurice Denys (Mr)
Certified Mental Coach (CMC)
S.N.H.S.Dip (Sports Psychology)
S.N.H.S.Dip (Life coaching)
S.N.H.S.Dip (Psychotherapy and Counselling)