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Tips for managing stress during the coronavirus crisis

The following are tips for managing stress during the coronavirus crisis from Jennifer Wegmann from the Health and Wellness Studies Department at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

In what seems like a blink of an eye, the coronavirus has changed all of our lives. No one in the world has been left untouched by this crisis. The advice, recommendations, and even orders to stay inside and socially distance ourselves are leading to increased anxiety. For exercisers in particular, daily exercise routines are being disrupted, with many states closing gyms and exercise facilities for the foreseeable future.

Here are some tips for everyone – particularly exercisers – to help deal with the stress of the crisis, stay positive, and create resilience.

  • Validate your feelings and emotions!
    • BUT it is essential to manage your emotions so that negative thoughts do not take over and chip away at your mental health and keep you frozen in an unhealthy negative place.
    • Tap into your Emotional Intelligence (EI)  – According to Dr. David Walton, EI is an awareness of yours and others' feelings. It's about understanding, processing, and managing the impact of emotions. It allows us to be in control, read and interpret body language, and cope with negativity. This involves taking control of your thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and needs, and challenges all of us to employ empathy.
    • Remember, we are going through this together, and putting ourselves in other's shoes, a.k.a. being empathetic, will help us react in a way that is reasonable, caring, and compassionate. For example, not hoarding food and toilet paper, but rather buying what is reasonable for our families and us because we understand others are In need too. 
  • Crisis and adversity create innovation and creativity – think outside the box.
    • Give up hanging onto the wish that everything is going to be exactly the same, that workouts and training HAVE to be exactly the same.
      • Get creative – what do you have available which will allow you to move your body.
        • Design your own home workout.
        • Find videos on sites like YouTube.
        • Download an app like JEFIT – It will help you create workouts based upon your goals and available equipment.
        • If you have the resources, buy a subscription to access well-designed workout plans and videos.
  • Stop dwelling on all that has been lost and taken away, and instead shift your focus to what remains in place.
    • When we focus on what is gone, we live in the past. The reality tomorrow is gone. There is nothing we can do to change that fact.
    • It takes a lot of energy and personal resources to live in the past, and it tunnels our vision so we cannot see what is here and now.
    • Focusing on what remains forces us into the present – it helps us focus on the NOW.
      • Many people are projecting and trying to predict the future. That is impossible, and it creates fear and anxiety. The more mindful we are, the more in the moment we will live.
      • When we project and predict, we can get stuck, paralyzed. This creates more fear and anxiety. It is a vicious circle.
  • Focusing on the NOW will allow you to:
    • Practice Gratitude - living in the NOW will allow you to experience the little things in life that you can be truly grateful for – yes, even in the midst of a crisis!
      • A sunrise or sunset
      • A walk/run/ride outside with fresh air
      • Your health
      • An act of love or kindness
  • Communicate in the NOW.
    • Take the time to communicate to others how you are feeling.
      • Invite people into your life to share this experience with you.
      • Research has shown over and over again that connecting socially is one of the most effective ways to manage stress and anxiety. YES, this holds true even when you connect over Facetime, Zoom, Facebook Messenger!
  • Communicate what you need
    • Space? More connection? Whatever it is you are needing,  effectively communicating will allow others to know how to help you.

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