Highly stressful times — like in the middle of a pandemic — are not the ideal time to start counting calories or kick off a killer workout routine, but this is an ideal time to focus on doing what we can to stay healthy.
Manage stress with rest and recovery.
The parasympathetic nervous system’s job is to restore the body to a calm state; it’s the opposite of our fight-or-flight response. We want to help this system work well so we can better recover from stress.
How to give your parasympathetic system a boost:
- Relaxing activities like gentle yoga, laughing with a friend, snuggling with a pet, taking a long bath, or sipping a cup of tea (or other low-caffeine beverage).
- Quiet time. If you choose to meditate, it doesn’t have to be a big production; all you need is a quiet place to let your mind settle. If meditation isn’t your thing, journaling can be a great way to focus the mind.
- Get outside. Go for a run, take the dog for a walk, do a bit of gardening, or play with the kids.
- Exercise regularly but vary the intensity. Don’t go all out for every workout, and if you’re feeling extra stressed, consider backing off a bit in intensity.
- Get good sleep. Maintain a somewhat normal sleep/wake schedule even if you don’t have to get to school or work. Add a nap if you need it.
A few further tips and ideas:
- stick to checking the news just once or twice a day
- set the smartphone down, or turn it off, a couple of hours before bed
- give yourself grace; we’re all figuring this out as we go
- remind yourself this is temporary, even if some days feel 87 hours long