A new press release from the American Psychological Association offers a boost: small-steps (see them below) to enhance your life now and as the world opens up again. It also describes our pandemically worn down, stressed, and challenged state, even as vaccines promise relief.
There is no shame in buckling. COVID-19 and the upside-down world of work and unemployment stagger many.
Yet, improving your well-being and health might not need a mountain climb remedy:
- Move. Dance, walk, jog, run a treadmill, ride a bike. Aerobic exercise is associated with mood enhancement, better sleep, and lower blood pressure.
- Do something nice for someone else. Call people by their names, including anyone with a name tag. Smile at them.
- Give a little money away. If you find even a tiny amount of disposable currency in your pocket, buy a stranger a cup of coffee or a donut. Don’t treat people like furniture. Your goodwill might make their day and tends to improve your mood, as well.
- Tell the people you love what they mean to you. Friends, family, and anyone who opens the door for you.
Sleep disturbance, emotionally-driven eating, and high stress require no apology. Here is the promised place to start getting control back from the APA:
How to identify unhealthy habits, change behavior and manage weight
Identify unhealthy habits
- Take note of when you are overeating, making poor food choices, or drinking alcohol: What time of the day is it? Did something stressful happen? Are you bored? Answering these kinds of questions can help you determine if your habits aren’t healthy.
- Pay attention to how you feel after a certain activity.
- For instance, drinking might make you feel better in the moment but worse the day after. If you notice this is happening, try substituting this behavior with another activity that doesn’t make you feel worse later.
- Make the goals you set for yourself specific and attainable. For instance, if you’re trying to drink less during the pandemic, determine a specific number of days and drinks by which you want to limit your alcohol consumption.
- Find an accountability buddy. Telling a close friend or family member about your goals can help you stay on track, and they can check on your progress.
- If you are feeling stressed and are gaining weight, instead of trying to lose weight, start by trying to maintain your weight by not overeating and staying active. This can help you develop healthy eating habits.
- To maintain weight or stop yourself from losing weight, establish a routine for eating three meals a day — either by setting the alarm to signal mealtimes or blocking off time in your calendar. If trying to decide what to eat feels overwhelming, repeating the same breakfast and lunch every day can help build a routine.
- If you can’t get outside, go for a walk inside. Plan a route through your home that lets you take about 25 steps and take this route while you’re in a meeting, catching up with a friend on the phone, or taking a 5-minute break during your workday.
As we emerge from our bunkers, don’t be surprised if some of the unmasked folks appear a little older at first. That awareness is a blessing. Perhaps our recognition of each life’s temporary condition will remind us to display more kindness and live with enhanced urgency.
When hugs and kisses become possible, the tears may surprise you. Smiles, holding hands, and long embraces. Over and over.
A cheek’s caress, a firm handshake — sex, too — ravenous, generous, and grateful.
Who knows what the future holds?
Make it yours with each new day.
Here is a link to the APA update on stress in America: https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2021/one-year-pandemic-stress/
The first photograph displays the northern lights in Coldfoot, Alaska, 60 miles north of the Arctic Circle. This is a recent example of the splendid artistry of Laura Hedien, with her permission: https://laura-hedien.pixels.com/
The second image is Miró’s Characters on a Red Background, 1949. Finally, a picture of Life photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt and a reporter/companion celebrating V-J Day in New York City on August 14, 1945.
LOrd knows we all need some sort of “deep breath” after all this. I thought myself resilient and able to handle ANYTHING but after a year I am worn out, angry and just not happy with myself as a person.
Two deployments to the Middle East “ain’t got nothing on all this”. Tough working the way back but all will be well. Thanks for the post and suggestions.
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Thank you, Laura. Your comment is especially welcome because of the history you describe. The grinding quality of the strange pandemic world, day after day, has been a challenge even for yours truly — a relatively privileged “hostage” to conditions less wounding than so many have endured and continue to endure.
Thanks for the boost, Dr. Stein!
You are welcome, Rosaliene.
These are good tips for folks, and I struggle with grabbing food when I am experiencing unpleasant feelings. Something to be mindful of.
Thank you, Nancy. You are not alone.