Tips for Stress Management: Finding Balance during COVID-19
COVID-19 has created many disruptions and changes to the personal and work lives of millions of Americans. If you are like most people, you find these kinds of disruptions stressful. It is common for gift planners today to wear multiple hats, such as raising planned gifts, major gifts and more. Many gift planners are feeling pressure because they are expected to still meet fundraising goals while they cannot currently meet in-person with their donors. The goal of this blog is to share ways that fundraisers, and really anyone affected, can learn to better manage stress and achieve their goals even in the face of challenges.
Have you felt overwhelmed during this crisis? I know I have at times. It is important to keep a positive attitude when things become overwhelming and concentrate on positive self-talk. We can start by letting go of the things we are not able to change and focus on the things we can. Also, finding something that brings you happiness can make a difference whether that is a hobby, reading a book or enjoying one of your favorite TV shows.
With social distancing becoming a key part of our lives, we could all use an activity that brings joy and distracts us from our stressors. Here are some activities for inspiration:
- Gardening or home improvement projects
- Listening to music or a podcast
- Learning to cook
- Creating art
- Reading a new book
- Trying out a new recipe
- Taking an online class
- Journaling or writing
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends two hours and thirty minutes of moderate physical activity each week to help prevent and manage stress. Now, are you really getting that kind of exercise right now? I admit I am not, but I have set a goal for myself to incorporate physical activity throughout my daily routine whether it is on my lunch breaks and/or after work. I have found that exercise helps increase my energy, focus and relaxes my body and mind. It is always a good idea to consult with your health care professional before starting an exercise regimen. There are also a variety of workout smartphone apps available for download and videos online if you are looking for something with more structure but even a walk outside can be beneficial. Please do not forget to have fun with it too! A great music playlist is always a helpful motivator.
Here are some easy workouts you can do from home:
- Online video workouts
- Jumping jacks
- Riding a bike
- Jump rope
- Lunges, push-ups and the plank
- Water bottle weights
Eating a well-balanced diet and limiting the amount of caffeine and sugar you consume may also be beneficial in reducing stress. I have found that I tend to snack more often so keeping healthier snacks on hand like mixed nuts and dried fruits has helped in limiting my intake of too many salts and refined sugars. Learning to experiment with new recipes can also be fun but if time is an issue, there are also many meal delivery services available. Check these services out while you are still working from home. You may find them useful for easy meals even when you go back to work in the office!
According to many experts, it is recommended that adults get at least seven hours of sleep each night. It is important to give your body the rest it needs in order to recharge for the new day. Try to avoid habits such a staring at your phone before bedtime and doing work in the bedroom. I have found that making a habit of turning my smartphone off before going to bed allows me to have a more restful night’s sleep. Also, creating a routine of waking up at the same time, along with eating and exercising around the same time each day can be helpful with reducing stress. It is important to listen to your body when you need rest as getting run down can weaken your immune systems.
I found that creating structure while being under the stay-at-home order is important in reaching goals and meeting deadlines. I always want to ensure that I am setting realistic goals and creating to-do lists that prioritize the most urgent items. I start by scheduling and setting reasonable deadlines for the different tasks I have for the day or week. I complete each item and check them off as I go down the list. I take the larger projects step-by-step and maintain an organized system of approaching new challenges. I recommend trying not to schedule too much in one day as that might be overwhelming and prevent you from completing your workload for the day. Also, ask for support if you are able to and make time for breaks. I spend my breaks either taking a walk outside or cooking a quick meal for myself.
During this quarantine, it has been hard being in isolation, away from my loved ones and not having my usual routines. It can be mentally and physically taxing to prepare for a simple task like going to the grocery store. I am always ready with my mask, gloves and sanitizing wipes as I wait in line with the other customers that are patiently waiting to collect their items for the week. It is always an eye-opening experience when coming into contact with others as we are all going through this experience together. Through all of this, I can say that I have learned that using stress-management techniques has made this time away from the office more productive and enjoyable. I hope that these tools help you too. Wishing you good health and please remember that Crescendo is here to support you!