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Tips to Reduce Pandemic Emotional Stress

by Elizabeth Simmons, SAFFP Personal Trainer

Let’s admit it: 2020 has been crazy stressful.

Our way of life seems to still be shifting on a daily basis, and these changes have created feelings of instability and helplessness in many of us. Regardless of age, job, or family situation, we have all more than likely been assailed by a whirlwind of negative emotions during this pandemic. For this very reason, it is crucial that we practice a little more TLC with ourselves. Here are five tips for reducing stress levels while improving our emotional well-being:

1.) STAY INFORMED, NOT INUNDATED Start by limiting your daily news and media intake. Sure, it’s imperative to keep up-to-date with the current situation. After all, it’s the responsible thing to do! However, it is equally important to avoid becoming oversaturated with too much negative information. Try tuning in to the news only once or twice a day. If your social media feeds are becoming clogged with COVID-19 posts and other stressful news articles (i.e. politics) then it might be time to take a break. Other outlets to consider are the people within your own household. If you are living with other adults, make a pact to only discuss the latest news developments at certain times of the day.

2.) MEDITATE You are probably aware by now that meditation is an effective tool for coping with just about everything: from anxiety and depression to addiction and inattentiveness. There are several different ways to practice meditation, and thanks to the Internet, there are numerous guided meditations at your disposal.

3.) GO OUTSIDE Go for a walk in your neighborhood, sit in the backyard, or do some gardening. Nature is a powerful panacea, and one that is often under-utilized in coping with stress and depression. If you are in a situation where it is difficult to go outdoors, open your curtains or blinds, stretch out in a sunny spot in your home, and listen to nature sounds on your device.

4.) FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN DO You may find that you actually have more time in the day for achieving some back-burner goals. These can range anywhere from tackling that much needed DIY home project to picking up that forlorn book that’s gathering dust. You might even consider learning something completely new. This could finally be the right time to learn how to draw, or to brush up on your Spanish, or even to learn more about your favorite time in history. The list is potentially endless.

5.) WATCH YOUR NUTRITION. Nutrition health and mental health go hand-in-hand, so it is important that your nutrition stay well balanced (especially now!). If you notice that you are consuming more caffeine and alcohol than usual, it may be time to put on the breaks. Research shows that both caffeine and alcohol can increase anxiety, while alcohol is a known depressant. Finally;

6.)EXERCISE!!!! Many of us actually have more time now to dedicate to a consistent fitness routine. Continued social isolation and masks can make exercise difficult, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t use this time as an opportunity for positive change. We can make the best of this situation by focusing on ourselves in any way we can: on self-care, self-reflection, and self-improvement. If you're still not comfortable being in a class or gym setting, the internet is limitless with great fitness and wellness options. Not sure where to start? St. Andrew's Family Fitness's partnership with one of the virtual fitness guru's, Fitness on Demand, offers a little something for everyone- check it out here! And remember, stay healthy, safe and above all else- sane. 2020 is almost over!

Elizabeth is a certified Personal Trainer, as well as a Yoga and Pilates instructor. Her teaching method can be described as eclectic, drawing inspiration from various lineages, styles, and techniques. This extensive approach has enabled her to work with diverse populations, including seniors, teens, athletes, and mental health outpatients. Elizabeth's classes are playful and accessible, with a conscientious approach to both breath and alignment. Her training sessions emphasize building a firm foundation around core strength and joint stability. She currently offers training sessions, classes, and workshops throughout the Charleston area- including St. Andrew's Family Fitness Plus!

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