Managing Holiday COVID-19 and Post-Election Stress

December 1, 2020

With COVID-19 affecting our holidays, schools going more and more remote, and the lingering post-election stress it is important to ask ourselves questions that help us manage our stress response.   The Greater Good Science Center poses a few questions to help us think about how we are managing and reacting got what is going on around us (Smith & Suttie 10.2020).

For instance, “what is going on with me physiologically?”  “How am I sleeping?” “Am I feeling panicked?” “Do I have racing thoughts?” “Are any bad memories replaying themselves?” Once you have a sense of the physiological impact of your stress response then make a plan to actively engage your body to release the stress. Try deep breathing techniques, physical exercise, yoga, or mindfulness techniques. These activities help your body regulate the stress hormones that have been released and will help you feel more relaxed.

Another question to ask is, “Am I getting enough GOOD NEWS?” You'll have to be intentional about this. According to the Good News Science Center, repeatedly consuming negative news stories is detrimental to our health. It keeps us in a constant state of alert, which is damaging to our bodies. It can lead to distrust and negative feelings about other people and communities. Be intentional about  reading good literature additionally you can find positive news at the websites, MSN Good news, the Good News Network, or Sunny Skyz.

We should also ask, “What am I grateful for today?” As we’ve discussed before, gratitude is a powerful tool to counter balance stress. Intentionally take time every day to make a list of what you are thankful for. Write a card or text or call people that have made a positive difference in your life. We have the power to choose what we think about. Choose today to spend time thinking about what you are grateful for. Then share your gratefulness with others.

Another question to ask yourself is, “How can I connect to others?” Researchers Laura Cousino Klein and Shelley Taylor suggest we tend-and-befriend, meaning that we tend to the needs of others and be a friend to those in need. The tend-and-befriend response is a biological state engineered to reduce fear and increase hope. Ask yourself “What is one small thing I can do to help someone feel better today?” Give this a try. You'll make yourself feel better and your community a kinder, friendlier place.

Lastly, finding meaning in the midst of difficulty is a great way to counteract stress so ask yourself, “What are some ways I can use my special skills or talents to make a difference in the world?” You know what your talents and skills are. Find ways to use them to impact your neighborhood and community. Your stress and fear will be channeled in a new direction and you'll build friendships and find more purpose in life.

References: Smith, J.A., Suttie J. (2020, 14 October) ) Eight Questions that can Help you Survive Election Stress; Greater Good Magazine.

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