Four Ways to Handle Stress During the Pandemic

Several months ago, I was carrying my oldest son’s leftover birthday cake to the garage freezer. Suddenly, I fell off of the garage step, dropped the cake, and fell onto my left hand.

I sat in excruciating pain on my garage floor; I had no idea what type of injury I had.  After a visit to the emergency room, I found out I had dislocated my shoulder.  The injury took on meaning for me: I needed to take a break.

Um. How would that be possible in the pandemic? What could I do?

Mindfulness practice.

I had practiced daily mindfulness for many years but had strayed away from it due to increased busyness.  It is a daily practice that I frequently recommend to clients and other professionals.

Mindfulness is the ability to become fully present, in the moment, expanding awareness and acceptance of emotions, without becoming consumed by overwhelm, guilt or shame.

I came up with 3 simple ways I could re-introduce mindfulness into my daily routine:

1. I started to go on a daily walk, especially when feeling anxious or overwhelmed. On warmer days, I take off shoes/socks for a minute and really try to pay attention to the feeling of the ground beneath my feet.

2. I decided to set up a sacred space in my house for daily reflection. A sacred space can be anywhere.  Mine is on top of my dresser in my walk-in closet so the kids can’t get to it.  I placed pictures, gemstones and other beautiful items for me to focus on. It is a space where I can just simply be.

3. When my phone is on, I love using the app, Headspace. They have guided meditation and mindfulness exercises that are really helpful if you need more structure. Click here to connect to their website.

4. I also decided to reduce screen time. I turned off my phone/computer when spending time with family.  I set up a schedule for when I would be available.  I uninstalled social media apps from my phone. I stopped doom-scrolling on news websites or social media, and just starting taking a few moments to breathe.

Breathe in. Breathe out. I am here. I am alive. I am grateful.

Incorporating daily mindfulness into my life again has been life changing. I think more clearly and I am able to concretely make decisions rather than feeling overwhelmed by my emotions and thoughts.

Also, I don’t need surgery and my shoulder is slowly healing, one moment at a time.

If you are looking for therapy to help you manage anxiety or stress, click here to schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation. I am a licensed therapist in the state of Colorado and have worked for the past seven years treating trauma, anxiety, depression and substance use disorders.