We are facing multiple contagions at this point. Not only are we physically battling a virus that seems nearly impossible to stay ahead of, but we are battling the contagion of negativity and stress. And while we rampantly parse through medical and financial data to help us find the light, we are also driving ourselves deeper into anxiety and unsettling fear.
As Ben mentioned in his commentary Impact of Social Distancing and Sudden Economic Stops, the truth is real – “Fear can make us all forget that this country has overcome revolution, civil war, terrible health pandemics, two world wars, depression, dust bowls and a host of other seemingly definitive difficulties.” However fearful we may be, we must find ways to remain driven by facts, focus on the future, and stay positive.
How can we reduce stress and anxiety during these difficult times? Consider the basics:
1. Keep in touch
Losing control of emotion leads us to look for information that will only confirm and deepen our worst fears. Seek out positive sources of information and support – and not just news, but healthy relationships that can bring laughter and a little lightheartedness. Keep in touch with the facts (from trustworthy sources, of course), but also allow yourself some time to read something other than the headlines.
2. Stay active
Even with increased quarantine restrictions, regular physical activity is important for managing stress. Unfortunately, watching TV and surfing the web are anything but stress-relieving. According to Mayo Clinic, these “relaxing activities” can increase stress over the long term. The idea of re-framing stress has been shown to help reduce actual inflammatory damage within the body. So it’s important to find productive, stress-reducing activities. This can involve something as bold as a high-intensity workout to something as simple as meditation or breathing exercises. 1,2
3. Check your goals, and make new ones
It is not an if, but when the world slowly starts to normalize, will the goals you had set before the pandemic be the same after? Checking existing goals and creating news ones is key to re-balancing accountability to not only yourself, but your loved ones, friends and colleagues. It also allows us to stay focused on the future – beyond coronavirus and bear markets.
What can we do now? Stay focused, stay healthy, and stay positive for each other, because “hope and positivity help people make better health and life decisions and focus more on long-term goals.”1
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