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  • Andrea Armstrong

Tips On Coping With These Stressful Times

As most of you will know, I suffer with Fibromyalgia with chronic insomnia being one of the symptoms. It’s because of this that I find myself wide awake at 2am thinking about how frightening and unsure life is for each and every one of us on the planet due to this Corona-19 Virus which at the moment seems to be spreading like wildfire and taking too man lives to mention.

I just wanted to check in with you to say that you’re not alone and share some tips on how to deal with the stress that you may be feeling right now.

Stress-busting solutions

From being in total isolation or the uncertainty of the future, research has shown that long-term stress (like that from a toxic boss or from caring for an elderly parent) can actually change your genes, leading to an increase in inflammation that can bring on very serious health issues.

Learning how to cope properly can go a long way for your everyday health. Here are the best and worst ways to de-stress right now.

Best: Rely on rituals

Whether it's taking a bath before bed, listening to your favourite playlist while working out at home or walking the dog to the park or down the street every morning, in times of stress this can help to reduce your stress levels. A consistent routine can also help you to relax. Our bodies naturally crave routine, and by focusing on these consistent rituals you increase your body's ability to deal with the physical aspects of stress. When stressful situations leave you feeling powerless, following a routine allows you to take back control over part of your day and can help alleviate some of the anxiety and tension.

Best: Get out of your head.

Do you ever get that never-ending loop of negative thoughts and what-ifs playing in your head? That's because stress likes to mess with your mind. A surefire and fun way to get out of your head is to engage in activities that put the focus on your hands or body (think kneading bread, sketching a picture, knitting a scarf, or writing in your diary.

As your hands and fingers begin to fall into those familiar rhythmic moves, it sends a signal to your brain that immediately relaxes you and makes you feel grounded. So immerse yourself in a creative, engaging activity and get ready to press the mute button.

Best: Visualize calm

Find a quiet space, close your eyes, focus your breathing, and transport yourself to your happy place for a few minutes each day. There are plenty of books and articles written on the subject if you need help getting started, but the most important thing is to find a comforting and calming image that works for you (a beautiful blue ocean might be totally relaxing to one person, but a nightmare for someone who's afraid of water).

Best: Take a bath

Water has an innate soothing effect on the mind and body since it connects us back to our time in the womb. Schedule a regular time to soak in the tub. Further your bliss by pairing your bath with Aromatherapy Candles or bath beads. Pick a scent that smells best to you or go for lavender or jasmine, both of which possess stress-reducing properties.

Best: Express your gratitude.

There are positive effects of expressing gratitude. Even though I struggle with day to day life, I always try to find reasons to be grateful because let’s face it , things can always be worse, plus, gratefulness also activates the regions associated with dopamine, one of those feel-good neurotransmitters. To reap these stress-reducing benefits, write down your feelings of gratitude daily in a journal, or by writing little notes to friends or family letting them know how much you appreciate them.

Best: Exercise

Exercise may be the healthihealthiest stress buster, it revs your body's production of feel-good endorphins, can help regulate your sleep, lowers the symptoms associated with mild depression, boosts your energy, and helps you remain calmer and more focused, all of which can go a long way toward stress management. While it's easy to let a daily exercise routine slide when you're overwhelmed and stuck indoors, take steps to incorporate it into your day—pick an activity you love and will look forward to, motivate you, or schedule it into your calendar like any other task—and you'll soon understand why it's a critical part of any stress-management plan.

Worst: Drinking, smoking, and other vices.

Drowning your stress in a bottle of wine or a pack of cigarettes might bring a release in the moment, but turning to unhealthy vices like drinking, drugs, smoking, or too much caffein sets you up to stress out more once the high wears off. Since these habits tend to increase the negative impacts of stress that are already having an effect on your body (raising your blood pressure, making you jittery, keeping you awake at night to name just a few), you enter into a vicious cycle of feeling more stressed out and then returning to the vice over and over.

Worst: Hibernating.

The thought of hiding away under the covers sounds pretty great when there's so much to deal with beyond your bedroom door, but sleeping too much isn't the answer. The more you sleep, the more tired you actually feel. Increased lethargy is only going to make it that much harder for you to focus and much less likely to deal with the stressors at hand. Plus, there is a connection with chronic oversleeping and diabetes, heart disease, weight gain, and even higher rates of death (though it's unclear if too much sleep causes these problems). Adding health problems to your already heavy load is only going to exacerbate your stress levels.

Worst: Ignoring the problem.

While it's normal to take a mental time out once in a while to watch a funny movie or having a nice pamper, consistently avoiding the stress in your life is counterproductive. When you evade your problems, you don't allow yourself to process or understand what you're dealing with. The more you ignore something—whether it's a concrete problem like paying off bills or an emotional one like the fear of losing a loved one, the greater it's going to get. Your best bet is to reach out for help and make a plan of action that will eventually diminish your problems and alleviate your stress.

Worst: Eatinng your feelings

Like alcohol or drugs, food often becomes a crutch when coping with difficult times. Soothing your pain with high-calorie, high-sugar, or high-fat comfort foods feels good at first, but it can quickly spiral out of control when your mind and body begin to associate negative emotions with eating. At the first sign of stress, anger, or sadness you'll instinctively reach for food rather than dealing with the feelings at hand. Overeating can cause weight gain and make you feel worse about yourself, as well as exacerbate other issues like (bloating, reflux or constipation that often accompany stress.

I am guilty of drowning my sorrows at times or not facing my issues head on, however, I believe that now more than ever, we need to dig deep, pray for strength and do everything we can to help each other get through this unbelievable nightmare.

Please feel free to use the SoulMates platform to connect with each other or simply vent your feelings. We are always here for you.

With love and service xxx

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