7 Ways To Improve Your Mood & Reduce Stress During A Pandemic
Have you ever experienced anxiety? I know several people who do but I never have…..until recently.
When I started experiencing it I knew I was having “issues” but I never realized what it was until I was talking to someone and they told me that is what their anxiety look like.
I think that mine is caused specifically by the situation we’re in. I have no idea if it’ll continue to be this way or if it’ll manifest more and more.
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve learned that your feelings are important to acknowledge so that way you can get the stress and anxiety under control. Not only get them under control but boost your overall mood.
Here is a list of seven ways I’ve been working to reduce my stress and improve my mood.
Know What Makes You Anxious or Stressed …Specifically
I think we can all guess what triggers my anxiety or stress level to increase. Before I wouldn’t acknowledge my feelings or I’d let them pass and move on. That way of handling things is NOT helping me.
So I’ve been trying to focus on specifics. What am I doing when I start to feel anxious or upset? What am I thinking?
This helps because I know that once I get on Facebook or start reading articles about the virus my anxiety and stress go way up. Or if I’m talking about it with friends and family.
Or sometimes I start thinking about it.
These are all different ways for me to start getting anxious.
Yesterday I read an article about a local restaurant that had to close their doors. This was a huge trigger because I know that they’re not going to be the only ones that this is going to happen to.
Breathe Deeply While Focusing
When you do feel anxious instead of allowing the feeling to get worse, focus on breathing in and out deeply in a relaxed way. Focus only on your breath and not what is happening around you.
This sounds simple but it works.
A few nights ago I was going through feelings around this virus. It seems that they happen every few days. It was at night and I started freaking out – I knew if I didn’t get it under control I was going to go into full panic mode and keep myself up all night long…which would make for a long day the next day.
So whenever I’d wake up with any scary thoughts I didn’t want, I’d focus on breathing. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out. Simple. It doesn’t have to be complicated. I’d also tell myself that I’ve done everything in my power to be as safe as I can in this situation.
This helped me tremendously because I was able to keep the worse thoughts at bay and I was able to relax from the bretahing exercises. Thankfully I was able to sleep most of the night.
Another form of breathing deeply that will help you is – meditation. You’d do this on a regular basis. Taking the time to meditate promotes good mental health and reduces stress both of which are good for you.
Here is a YouTube video showing you how to practice deep breathing:
You’ll be glad that you did when you get into a situation and need to take deep breaths to calm down. With the practice of meditation, it’ll be easier to do.
Get in the Habit of Being More Healthy
Eat right and exercise.
I know right now it might seem like why should I bother but being healthy and eating right is extremely important – especially during this time.
It’ll keep your mental health up but it’ll also help to boost your immunity which you also want to happen during this crazy time.
It might seem like it’s not true, but eating poorly can also cause stress and anxiety. You want to eat as close to nature as possible including drinking plenty of filtered tap water.
Last year I met a woman, Cheryl Majors, who got rid of her depression by changing the way that she ate. She has a book called, “Eat Your Blues Away“. If you have the Kindle Unlimted Membership you can read it for free.
All of these will help you navigate through this virus plus by exercising you’re breaking up your day.
I have a friend who made a goal to do 365 days of Yoga. She’s been sharing a little about it during the past year but she just completed her 365th day.
She lost weight but when she went through all of the benefits she has experienced that wasn’t even the main one. She’s able to walk and exercise now when she would always experience pain before.
In case you’re wondering she uses the Down Dog app.
You need to figure out what exercise you enjoy doing and do that.
Before all of this started I joined Fit.Yes – it is a virtual race. You can log your steps, miles, and workouts. At the end of the virtual race, you can get a t-shirt or a medal. I don’t know if they’re still shipping these but even if they’re not – the races are fun.
As you can see exercise and eating right is essential to your health – especially during this time.
Change Negative Thoughts to Positive Thoughts
When a negative thought pops into your head focus on a way to turn it positive or think of something positive that is going on right now because of the current situation we’re in.
I understand that this can be extremely hard.
Here are a few of mine:
- My son gets a lot of bonding time with me (but we homeschool and usually spend this time together) but he also gets this time to talk to and spend time with my brother who lives in the same house.
- I get to spend time cooking from scratch…not always, but we’ve enjoyed homemade calzones and flatbread. That wouldn’t have happened before.
- I’m able to spend time doing projects that I didn’t have time for before.
- Playing more games with my son. We’re spending time playing one video game (Donkey Kong) and then board and card games as well.
- I’ve been reading to him again. Normally we listen to audiobooks but I didn’t want to pay $30 for the 3rd book in the series we’re currently listening to and so I bought the Kindle and have been reading it instead.
I’m sure there are a lot more reasons but those are all positive things that are coming out of this stay safe, stay home order.
Another suggestion I would have is to be around positive people. Not sure what that means? Neither was I because I talk to people about the virus – so does that mean I wasn’t around someone positive?
I figured out talking is fine because I attended a Facebook Live and all she did was talked about the negative aspects of what was going on. She wasn’t even looking at some of the positive things that could come up in a few months.
I was a little disappointed because I did want to hear what her ideas and suggestions were but I knew if I stayed and tried to muddle through all of her negative energy it would just put me in a bad mood as well.
This is what I mean – stay away from the people who are only talking about the doom and gloom of the situation. It isn’t healthy and if you’ve got to a spot where you feel okay this will derail you faster than anything can.
Smell Nature – Even If You Only Open a Window
You can go outside, you can open a window or you can use armotherapy to help you stay calm and reduce your anxiety. I’d suggest either going outside or opening the window every single day.
Being outside helps you so much. Feeling the brisk wind on your face or the rain in your hair are both good for you. I’m not talking about for the long haul but for a short walk it will invigorate you.
If you don’t want to be outside for long – go for a fast walk. This will help you breathe in the fresh air and burn off energy from being inside.
I know how hard this can be especially with the virus. I’ve been having a hard time going outside because of my thoughts but I have a child and need to make sure to get out more than I am now.
Sometimes I’m not able to get outside for a long period of time – so I open a few windows. I believe we need the fresh air circulating through the house.
Journal Your Thoughts & Mood
Every day, write down your thoughts and your moods. We’re all experiencing different emotions and they happen all throughout the day. One minute we could be perfectly fine and then the next we’re scared and uncertain.
Writing down your journey through this pandemic will help you get through it. You’ll be able to see patterns and work on improving your overall mental health.
Plus people suggest you write about what is happening so that others can read about it later. Everyone is going through the same thing but to have first hand knowledge will put them in perspective for someone who didn’t experience it.
Another way to journal is to by writing down the things you are grateful for each day. You don’t have to be super detailed, just write bullets about your day and the things that brought you that feeling. Then when you’re having a bad day you can go back and read about all the ways you’ve been grateful.
How do you do that? When you are living your life if you get a sudden feeling of gratitude, instead of letting it pass, write it down so that you can think about it more later.
Improve Your Sleep Quality (Or Get As Much Sleep As Possible)
Getting the proper amount of sleep during this time is vital but it can be hard. Either you’ve got insomnia or you’re sleeping too much. I don’t usually have an issue with insomnia but I’ve noticed that I get tired during the day when I’m not usually tired.
One way that I’ve been working on this is to go to bed and get up at the same time each day. I’ve discovered when I do this it helps me. I’m able to get up early in the morning.
I’ve also heard that this is especially essential for anyone who suffers from insomnia. The primary way to cure insomnia is to go to bed and get up at the same time. Eventually, your body will grow accustomed to it and sleep.
Another rule that I’ve developed for myself is to stop eating at 7 pm. Eating before bed will divert your body’s energy toward your digestive system. That can cause you to get heartburn or experience other problems causing you not to have a deep and restful sleep. Try to avoid eating snacks two to three hours before bed.
The last tip that I have about sleep is to stop drinking caffeine early in the day. I don’t drink a lot of it as it is – so I stop at 10:30 am, but you can stop later than that.
Every day I work on improving and these seven things have been helping me through being at home. They don’t always work and some days I have to try harder than others to stick to it but like everyone else – I’m doing the best that I can in these unusual circumstances.
Take these tips and use the one or two that work for you.
P.S. I’d love to hear what methods you’re using to keep your sanity and stay healthy during this situation. Please comment below.
Hi April. Great advice.
Thank you Kat.
Great tips but also some good reminders of things I need to get back to doing. Thanks!
I have to remind myself of some of these tips as well. Thank you Angie.
Those are great suggestions! It’s good to be reminded of what to do in stressful situations or moments of anxiety.
Thank you Jeanine.
Enjoyed your post.
I worked in the Behavioral Health field for many years before having to resign due to health issues. I held support groups, was a trainer and advocated across Texas for mental health and for people who lived with mental health issues.
One of the groups I led was teaching clients how’ to improve their mental health by changing their eating habits. I would introduce a recipe, show them the benefits of the ingredients and we would have discussions around the content. After the discussion, we would prepare the dish and enjoying it together. It was interesting to hear them discuss their food choices and the recipes they were introducing to their families in the weeks following the content.
In your post, you also spoke about several other things I personally use on a daily basis (journaling, breathing techniques, getting plenty of rest). I also taught these things as well. It’s nice to know that other people besides those of us in the field use these tools in their everyday lives.
Recognizing the triggers are key…once they are recognized we can put action plans in place to prevent them from going from a trigger to a full-blown crisis. Too many times, people are in denial…I’m afraid this pandemic is going to create a lot of triggers for people (food, shelter, finances, health, just to name a few). I just hope the help is there before the crisis hits…
Thank you for such an in-depth comment. I believe that right now is a great time to get into habits such as journaling and breathing techniques so that when we can go out and about we’ll have them in place for better health later.
Very good advice, I’m definitely sharing. Hubby has a compromised immune system so I’m more worried about him than me. But with our Ggranddaughter, she keeps us smiling and focusing on playtimes!
I’m pretty healthy but I worry about others that I know. My son has allergies. I’m not sure if that is considered an underlining condition but I know several people who smoke or have smoked in the past.
I don’t have grandkids but children are always fun and keep you smiling. Keep enjoying her.
I really liked your suggestions for reducing stress and improving your mood. I liked the way you gave your personal experience with these methods. I’m doing a lot of them, and particularly making sure I get good nutrition, good sleep and good exercise.
Thank you, Diana,
I’m a work in progress. Some days I do better than others but as long as I’m striving towards a healthier me I think that is all that sounds. 🙂
Great post for this time of anxiety. My breath exercise is to breathe in to the count of 4, hold for count of 7 and breathe out to count of 8 for 4 cyles. When I can’t sleep I like to place my hand over my heart to feel safe.
I never thought to put my hand over my heart. Great tip! I just kept repeating to myself that I was fine and that I have been self-isolating. That seemed to calm me down.