We have tips for managing stress and working effectively in a world with differing opinions on how to deal with COVID-19, news stories about the upcoming election, protests, and more.
This year has been one of the most stressful our country has experienced in decades. COVID-19 has caused more cases of illness, hospitalizations, and deaths than any other virus in more than a century, as well as the loss of jobs and income for millions of Americans – and it’s drastically changed the way we live and work. Add to that the killing of George Floyd, subsequent protests and reactions to those protests, and then an upcoming presidential election – to say there’s a lot going on is a gross understatement. Opinions are strong, emotions are running high, and, if you dislike conflict, you now have plenty more reasons to stress.
The year’s events have impacted the way you work, where you work, student loans and payments themselves, higher education itself, how students attend class, patterns of attendance, and more. Thankfully, ScholarNet® hasn’t changed – and our team is still here to support you. That’s why we thought some tips to help you manage stress might be a timely topic for today.
- Take a break from the news and/or social media. Whatever it is in the news that has you worked up, chances are nearly 100% that it will still be there if you take a short break. Give yourself frequent chances to decompress.
- Take some time from educating others on social media. This takes energy and if you’re feeling particularly stressed, maybe it’s time to disengage for a bit for the sake of your own well-being. If you’re looking for additional ways to make an impact, consider taking action to support causes in your community and bring about positive change.
- Get back to nature. Go hiking. Walk by some water or trees. According to blue mind science, being near the water is believed to generate relaxed feelings, minimize stress, and provide mental health benefits. An interesting Yale study helps you think about what may be revealed by listening to the trees – but you can just enjoy the sound, too. Or, just plant some flowers. Find some beauty in the world around you.
- Create something. Write, paint, draw, or pick up a musical instrument you haven’t played in a while. It’s therapeutic to get your feelings out by expending creative energy.
- Watch funny movies or shows. Or, better yet, talk with a friend who makes you laugh. A Mayo Clinic article recaps why laughter really is great medicine for your physical and mental health.
- Get hugs from people you aren’t required to maintain distance from during this pandemic, and who can offer comfort. If those people don’t exist or are in short supply, snuggle your pet. Don’t have one? Consider adopting one.
- Find a good listener. Talk to friends or family members, a mental health professional, a clergyperson, or anyone who can lend an understanding ear.
- Help others. Reaching out to others who may be struggling can be a great way to put your own feelings of stress in perspective.
- Try to keep personal opinions out of your workplace if possible. You and your colleagues may not agree on everything, but hopefully you can agree to focus on giving your best effort for the students and families you serve – and that means keeping personal opinions out of your office interactions.
- Use breathing exercises, meditations, or an app to help de-stress while you’re at work. Apps and websites like Headspace provide helpful calming meditations and mindfulness tips to help you take just a quick few minutes to recharge during a stressful encounter or to break up a long day.
- Seek additional help if it’s needed. Really concerned about your own mental health or that of someone close to you? The Centers for Disease Control lists multiple helplines for children, individuals, and families at risk, including special groups such as elders and veterans.