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Healthy Habits for Coping with Post-Pandemic Stress

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

Key Points

  1. Re-establish daily routines to provide a sense of stability and control.

  2. Prioritize social connections and foster relationships that support mental health.

  3. Cultivate gratitude and positivity to improve emotional well-being and resilience.

  4. Engage in mindfulness and meditation to manage anxiety and stress.

  5. Prioritize physical activity and seek professional help when necessary for mental health support.

Introduction

It's been a few years since the COVID-19 pandemic first gripped the world, but its repercussions continue to echo in the fabric of our everyday lives. While the global health crisis has abated, the aftershocks of anxiety, depression, and stress linger in the collective human consciousness. As we try to reclaim a semblance of normalcy and reestablish balance, healthy habits for coping with post-pandemic stress are essential tools in our resilience toolkit.

In this feature, we will explore the key habits and practices that can help individuals navigate the choppy waters of post-pandemic stress, drawing on expert advice from mental health professionals, research findings, and personal anecdotes of resilience and recovery.

Embrace the Power of Routine

The pandemic upended daily routines for millions of people, leaving many adrift in a sea of uncertainty. As we emerge from this period of flux, re-establishing a daily routine can provide a sense of stability and control.

Dr. Jane Thompson, a clinical psychologist and author of "The Resilience Formula," explains that routines are "essential anchors for our mental well-being, offering predictability and structure in an often unpredictable world." She recommends prioritizing sleep, exercise, and meal times, as well as incorporating moments of mindfulness into our day-to-day lives.

Foster Social Connections

Social distancing measures and lockdowns left many individuals feeling isolated and disconnected from their communities. As the world reopens, it is essential to prioritize social connections and foster relationships that support our mental health.

Dr. Tessa West, a social psychologist at New York University, underscores the importance of social support networks for stress management. She encourages people to "reach out to friends, family, and coworkers, even if it's just for a brief check-in or virtual coffee break." In addition to rekindling old friendships, exploring new ways to engage with others, such as joining clubs or volunteering, can further bolster our sense of belonging.

Cultivate Gratitude and Positivitylead to increased happiness

Amidst the challenges of the past few years, it can be easy to lose sight of the positives in life. However, cultivating gratitude and embracing a more optimistic outlook can improve emotional well-being and resilience.

Studies have shown that practicing gratitude can lead to increased happiness, better sleep, and stronger relationships. Dr. Emiliana Simon-Thomas, a psychologist and the science director at UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center, recommends keeping a gratitude journal or sharing daily "gratitudes" with friends or family as a means of fostering a more positive mindset.

Engage in Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness and meditation have long been recognized for their stress-reducing effects. Research suggests that these practices can help manage anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues that may have been exacerbated during the pandemic.

Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), explains that mindfulness helps individuals "cultivate awareness of the present moment, allowing them to respond to stressors with greater clarity and equanimity." Apps like Headspace and Calm provide guided meditations and mindfulness exercises, making it easy for anyone to explore these practices.

Prioritize Physical Activity

Regular exercise is a potent stress-reliever, releasing endorphins that counteract the negative effects of stress hormones. As gyms, fitness studios, and parks reopen, it's an opportune time to incorporate physical activity into our daily routines.

Dr. Michael Joyner, a physician and exercise physiologist at the Mayo Clinic, suggests that "even moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking or cycling, can provide significant mental health benefits." He recommends aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week, in addition to strength training sessions.

Seek Professional Help When Necessary

While healthy habits can be powerful tools for managing stress, it is crucial to recognize when professional help may be necessary. If feelings of anxiety, depression, or stress become overwhelming and interfere with daily functioning, reaching out to a mental health professional can provide essential support.

Dr. Marla Deibler, a clinical psychologist and the founder of the Center for Emotional Health, emphasizes that "seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness, and can be a critical step towards recovery." Teletherapy options have expanded during the pandemic, making it easier than ever to connect with mental health professionals from the comfort of home.

Conclusion

As we grapple with the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential to prioritize our mental health and cultivate resilience. By embracing routines, fostering social connections, practicing gratitude, engaging in mindfulness, prioritizing physical activity, and seeking professional help when necessary, we can navigate the post-pandemic landscape with greater ease and emerge stronger than before.

The journey towards healing and resilience is an ongoing process, and it is never too late to adopt these healthy habits. With intention and practice, we can equip ourselves to cope with post-pandemic stress and reclaim a sense of balance in our lives.

 



Are you having challenges recovering from the emotional effects of the pandemic?


Explore your wellness with the Post-Pandemic Recovery Workbook. This workbook is designed by professionals utilizing the best of the clinical literature on self-improvement to assist you in achieving your wellness goals.




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