Have you noticed? There is a certain tension in the air whenever going out among the public. We had to go to a large home improvement store, and to get inside we had to stand in line outside with our masks on for about 15 to 20 minutes. The store limits how many people can be in the building at one time to ensure adequate social distancing. While standing in line, people were agitated. Everyone had their masks on. I felt like I was in some sort of apocalyptic movie. The odd fact is we spent less time in the home improvement store once we were inside than we did waiting in line.
This is our “new normal”. Whether it is visiting the grocery store or going to the pharmacy, there is a tension between people who clearly want and need to be out of their homes despite the new requirements of wearing a face covering and staying at least six feet apart. People want to escape the claustrophobia of their homes but in doing so are only confronted with some uncomfortable futuristic scene full of requirements and new procedures.
These are the new day to day challenges of simply living your life which cause considerable stress on people. All this, and I have not yet even begun to factor in the stress for those people who have lost their jobs or who are dealing with illness.
I mention this because I have noticed there is a strain on people. I can sense it while standing in line. I can sense it when I see people drive. I can sense it while reading various articles in the newspapers. At the present time, there doesn’t seem to be any reprieve from this virus. The “new normal” is difficult to adapt to. This new world is anything but friendly and welcoming.
So, for these reasons, it is exceptionally important to take care of yourself, even if in the smallest and most gentle ways. Here are some ideas of simple things you can do to help relieve the stress of simply living in our new world.
1. Breathe. It sounds silly but simply paying attention to breathing for 5 minutes provides a variety of physical benefits. It can lower your blood pressure, improve your posture, generate feelings of relaxation. If you can stand up and inhale as you raise your arms over your head then exhale while you lower your arms – all the better.
2. Spend time outside. Even going for a short walk can provide you with mental clarity and gets fresh air into your lungs. Also, while outside it is easy to notice things that are inspiring or charming. For example, a beautiful tree in bloom or birds that have returned to the area. While you are outside, bring some flowering branches inside. Recently, I find myself sitting outside on the deck stairs eating my meals. Which brings me to my next point.
3. Try to make healthy eating choices. During times of stress, it is so easy to fall into poor eating habits. I know that I tend to eat more sugary refined foods from packages. (I’m looking at you cookies and ice cream.) So, I have made a conscious effort to incorporate more greens into my diet. Especially now that the nicer weather has arrived, eating salads is so easy. Also, growing my own herbs in pots makes it inspiring and easy to incorporate them into recipes.
4. Check in on other people. Reach out to people who you know tend to be isolated. It could be an elderly person. It could be someone who has a history of depression. It could be someone you know who is going through a difficult time. By taking the time to check in on other people and ensure they are well, you are also taking care of yourself. The psychological benefits of caring for others is tremendous.
5. Practice gratitude. Focus on all the good things in your life. Are you healthy? Are your loved ones healthy? Are you still employed? Did you see the sunrise? Recently, I was so thankful for the beautiful weather and having a hot cup of coffee in the morning. With all the flowers blooming and the plethora of birds singing outside, a Saturday morning almost felt magical.
What about you? Have you sensed the strain that this “new normal” is placing on people? How are you adapting? What are some strategies you would share with others? I would love to know. Although we are trying to be further apart physically, this is really a time when we all need one another more than ever. Wishing you and your loved ones a safe and happy week full of gratitude and walks outside.