Time operates differently in pandemic times. And while it’s hard to believe we’re already in the year 2022, in many ways it feels like time has moved painfully slow.
Collectively, it’s safe to say we’ve been through a lot.
And while we tend to focus on childhood experiences here at PACEs, we can’t overlook the very real and very painful trauma caused by living through a global pandemic, no matter our age, even if we can’t quite pinpoint the level at which that trauma will impact us over time.
- Social interactions that make up the foundation of childhood development have been limited.
- We’ve been masked in public, unable to engage in the fleeting sense of unity and shared humanity a smile brings to strangers.
- The chronic stress from bad news and negativity on media platforms.
- That icky feeling that comes from heated disagreement within families and close circles.
- Suffering from or caring for a loved one with COVID, or experiencing a close death from the virus.
- Isolation. Depression. Anxiety. Fear. Uncertainty.
Living through a pandemic is traumatic and stressful, and I believe it’s important to reflect honestly and empathetically on how our own mental health has been affected through this time.
Although we’re still in pandemic times, we can make 2022 the year we heal and make the choice of how we move forward and handle stressors — no matter what happens with the virus.
Because while we can’t control what happens outside of ourselves, we can control our response to it. And that’s how I believe we can achieve healing and true inner peace.
So, here are three tips to heal from pandemic stress in 2022:
- Control your media intake.
While it’s important to be informed, too much media too often can take a toll on your mental health. Following arguments on Facebook threads, watching heated debates, and having the news on all the time can trigger your stress response, elevating your heart rate and spiking your stress hormones. When your stress response is constantly getting triggered, your mental and physical health suffers. Instead, limit your media intake to a designated time slot of an hour or two in the day (ideally not before bed or first thing in the morning!), and clear negative emotions that come up with some positive news, a walk, meditation, or deep breathing so you don’t carry that stress into the rest of your day. With the extra time that you may have just freed up by doing this, do something you love that makes you happy!
A great way to heal pandemic stress is to express your feelings in a healthy way. So, get a journal and vent, vent, vent! What do you fear, what are you scared of, what makes you angry? Releasing stress in this way instead of towards others (or suppressing it) helps move those thoughts and feelings out of your body and onto the paper instead. You’ll be surprised how clear-headed and peaceful you feel after a good journaling session, and you’ll get the chance to organize your thoughts before sharing them with others, if you choose to. Try journaling first thing in the morning or right before bed as a new 2022 habit!
- Get outside!
We tend to underestimate the power of a little sunshine, movement, and fresh air. When we’re stressed, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by that feeling of stress and let it overtake us. When this happens, food, Netflix binging, or other bad habits look appealing to take the edge off. The problem with these solutions is that they aren’t solutions at all. The stress still sits there, it’s just suppressed in the body and numbed for the moment. By getting outside regularly (and especially when you’re stressed) you get vitamin D, get the blood flowing, oxygenate your system, and can allow any negative feelings to pass so you can think more clearly and avoid reactions you might regret later. It’s incredible how looking up into the vast night sky or across a beautiful horizon can shift your perspective and make everything that seemed so big and scary at the time feel much more manageable. Try it!
I invite you to do these three things daily for one week.
Then, take note of how you feel. If you feel less stressed, which I’m confident you will, I encourage you to make these tips a daily self-care practice. If not, comment below and let me know how you feel!
I’m a stress management expert and have been working with clients for decades to help them heal the negative psychological effects of ACEs and adult traumas so they can live a truly free, empowered, and fulfilling life. What I’ve seen (and is deeply researched and clinically proven) is that, when we learn how to manage stress effectively, our relationships (to self and others) improve dramatically, we operate better personally and professionally, and our health is optimized.
If you enjoyed these pandemic stress healing tips, check out my books by clicking here! My latest, Less Stress Now, was written during the pandemic and has hyper-relevant tips and techniques for releasing toxic stress and preventing future stressors from getting in the way of the peace and happiness you deserve, no matter what.