We are creatures of comfort. We like routine and the known. In normal times, daily habits and routines provide stability and focus to our day and our minds. When we know what is ahead of us, we can anticipate and plan. Our habits are our coping strategies and help us manage our stress and help us relax. Some of us built these stress management skills throughout our lives as we adapted to different situations.
However, COVID‐19 has disrupted our lives and may have thrown our routines and habits off track. Because of this, we now may feel increased stress without good ways to cope. This uncertainty and instability in our days can lead us to feel less motivated and productive. To better manage our stress, we can form new habits and coping skills because our pre‐COVID‐19 habits may not be an option right now.
We can make these new habits and coping skills a reality. There are several ways we can accomplish this:
Maintain routines and establish new ones: Continue routines (e.g., sleep schedule, getting out of bed, getting dressed, eating meals, taking medicines) as much as possible. Create new routines by setting new goals. Set a goal for the morning and one for the afternoon that you can achieve and is meaningful.
Be disciplined in social media use: Scrolling through social media was a great distraction tool pre‐COVID‐19. However, now social media can be stressful because it has so much news on COVID‐19. Set limits on social media by using a timer or scheduling distinct periods of time to scroll.
Keep in touch: Maintaining connections with others is important during social distancing. Use virtual platforms and apps, emails, texts, and even letters to keep in touch with friends, family, and other loved ones.
Pay attention to your eating: Mindless grazing throughout the day at home is an easy trap to fall into these days. Many apps provide ways to learn how to be aware of what you are eating and make better choices.
Get outside: Being outdoors can improve mood and allows a break from being cooped up. Set a goal of getting outside at least five minutes before lunch and at least five minutes after lunch.
Create an exercise routine: Schedule time for exercise in your day, whether walking outside or using online videos inside. Put on workout clothes to help motivate you. Music during exercise can also be motivating.
Schedule time to worry: A great way to decrease dwelling on the negative is to schedule 10‐15 minutes to think or write down the worries on your mind. Afterwards, tell yourself you will worry again tomorrow. Until tomorrow, acknowledge your worries and then watch them float by like clouds.
Be kind to yourself: Create expectations around routines that are achievable for you. If you fall short, be kind and give yourself permission to not always get it right. Re‐work the goal and try again.
Practice daily gratitude: Regularly expressing gratitude can help keep your mind positive and aware of the good in your life. Take time in the morning or before bed to write down 3‐5 things for which you’re grateful and why.
TrestleTree is here to help create healthy lifestyle habits to manage stress around the unknown. TrestleTree Health Coaches work with participants to find personalized ways to manage stress and put good coping skills into place. An individual’s unique life circumstances and sources of stress drive the content of coaching. TrestleTree Health Coaches also have an awareness of resources available and will provide referrals as needed.