Content Provided By: Jefferson Health – New Jersey
Self-care swiftly became a top priority for many people at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Stress levels naturally rose in response to the extraordinary uncertainty of what was to come. For those who thought everything would be back to “normal” by now, it’s essential to keep using healthy coping mechanisms to maintain your mental and emotional well-being.
One of the biggest contributors to increased stress during this global health crisis has been the behavior of catastrophic thinking. This occurs when one constantly worries over “what-if” scenarios, impacting daily functionality and productivity, explains Jefferson Health Psychiatrist Dr. Ankila Chandran. It’s incredibly common and easy to do without realizing.
To combat catastrophic thinking, remember to take each day as it comes, says Dr. Chandran. “You can’t fix what is out of your control. Focus on what is within your control – things that are certain and constant. Maybe it’s knowing your dog loves you; you can take a walk around your neighborhood; you can video chat with a friend; or you can listen to your favorite song.”
It can also be helpful to practice mindfulness and self-care during your free time, rather than turning to unhealthy habits. Studies support that both can significantly reduce stress and anxiety.
Mindfulness, Dr. Chandran says, is all about being aware of your body and your surroundings. It’s often done through meditation or breathing exercises. If this isn’t your “cup of tea,” you can do something as simple as slowly drinking a glass of water, closing your eyes, and paying attention to how it feels.
“Believe it or not, this can help clear your mind and even give you new perspectives,” said Dr. Chandran. Some people have an easier time achieving mindfulness than others, but practice makes perfect!
Self-care – which goes hand-in-hand – is not just another term for pampering. It may be helpful to have a beauty or skin-care routine; however, self-care also requires meeting your most basic health needs. It’s essential to check in on yourself, the same way you would check in on your children or parents, says Dr. Chandran.
“The more you ignore your own needs, the more likely you are to become angry or burnt-out,” explained Dr. Chandran. “Try to keep a simple checklist that you can go through at the end of each day. Did you take your medication? Did you eat enough? Are you going to bed by a decent time?”
Having this kind of schedule is key to staying on top of your mental, physical, and emotional health. The answer to avoiding catastrophic thinking and reducing stress isn’t to do nothing. Remember, be productive, do what you enjoy, and stay safe and healthy!
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