Managing Stress and Digital Fatigue
I don’t need to tell you that it’s a stressful time and that you should prioritize keeping yourself safe. The guidelines that the CDC and WHO are giving focus on hand-washing, social distancing, etc. These are helpful practices for keeping germs away, but they aren’t helpful when it comes to managing stress, mental health, or the move to social-distancing. Here are a few tips for boosting your immune system and managing stress.
Lower Your Stress
I know you’re saying, “Well duh, common sense. Easier said than done.” Stress makes you more susceptible to respiratory illness (yikes). With media constantly blaring news about the pandemic, it is easy to get swept away. Here are some ideas for lowering stress related to the media.
1. Take a Break
With work all online it is easy to never stop. Take short breaks throughout the day and take the sabbath seriously. See if you can make it 24 hours without looking at a computer or your phone.
2. Be Choosy
It’s easy to stay busy and distracted by following every social media channel, keeping your email open, and watching the news 24/7. If you find one that is more informative over the other, prioritize that channel or account. If you’re on 5 different platforms, quit 3 of them (at least temporarily). Use app timers on your phone or computer.
3. Get Creative
Sketch, journal, start a craft, or bake. Art can be therapeutic and it will help you use different parts of your brain and body. With changes to your syllabi due to online learning see if you can use your creative side on your final project with an art piece or Bible study.
4. Quality over Quantity
Use your unfollow button. If that feels too drastic, both Facebook and Instagram now offer “hide” options. One account offers this suggestion: “When your anxiety and stress level starts climbing because of a social media post, take a minute to ask yourself why. What about it has triggered these feelings? Are you browsing pictures of a happy couple while you’re experiencing loneliness? Are you reading about someone’s wild weekend as you struggle with your own sobriety?” Make special effort to connect with the people who bring you hope and a little bit of joy. (I for one am a big fan of the Instagram trend “see a pup, send a pup”).
Sleep + Routine
Get enough sleep. It’s much easier to break a sleep schedule (if you have one) when you don’t need to be anywhere. Better sleep means stronger immune system. Stick to a regular bedtime and wakeup schedule. Not only will this give your life a little structure, it will also help you stay well.
Cut screens out an hour or two before bed (including phones).
Make your own structure. Do yoga at the same time every day as if it were a class. Schedule a video call with a friend. Set reminders in your phone. Use your planner. Make a list of tasks, not just for homework – include household projects, chores, hobbies.
Stay Healthy + Active
Eat well. It is tempting to reach for the easy snack or comfort in times of stress. You may also eat because you are bored. Make a meal plan. This will help with getting groceries and minimizing exposure. It will also ensure that you are getting the right kind of nutrition. (Of course don’t forget the popcorn and candy for your home movie nights.) Creating a plan may be a fun project to do with family, so that cooking meals together becomes part of the routine and also a fun activity.
Stay active. You can leave your home for exercise and walks, so be sure to take advantage of that and keep your body moving. Take on a daily meditative practice to keep your breath connected and release the stress you may be carrying in your body. Below you’ll find a few free guides to lowering stress with mindfulness, yoga, and breathing exercises.
- 6 Mindfulness Exercises You Can Try Today: This writer covers basic mindfulness practices to help you recenter.
- 1-Minute Mindfulness Exercises: These 9 mindfulness practices are less traditional, but easy to practice in every day activities (like eating chocolate or yawning).
- Yoga with Adriene: a well known instructor across the internet. She has over 500 free videos and is always adding more.
- Yoga Download: With 50+ full length classes you can find the right class for you.
It may be especially hard for parents out there to navigate talking to their kids about the pandemic, while also managing there own stress. The New York Times has put out several articles for talking to teens about what’s going on in the world.