We live in a changed world. Our “new normal” is something that most of us probably never imagined just a few short months ago. We’re losing time with friends and family, unable to visit our favorite shops and restaurants, and are required to wear masks when we step out of our front doors. It’s a stressful situation, for sure, but some simple coping strategies can help make things easier to deal with. From meditation to exercise, sleep health, and gratitude, there are ways to deal with our current situation and regain some sense of normalcy. In this post, we’ll explore some of the critical tools and techniques available to all of us.
- Coping Strategies 101: Sleep Well
- Practice Mindful Eating
- Cope by Working on Your Exercise Routine
- Practice Gratitude to Cope with Stress
- Do Some Self-Meditation
- Bringing It All Together
Coping Strategies 101: Sleep Well
Sleep is a great healer, but most of us get too little of it. It has a dramatic effect on everything from our mood to our ability to deal with physical, emotional, and mental stress. Lack of sleep has been tied to obesity, heart attack, stroke, and other chronic health conditions.
Of course, getting more sleep isn’t as easy as willing it to happen, so most people need to take steps to create a more tranquil environment, set up a bedtime routine, or even use supplements. With more and better quality sleep, you’ll be better able to handle the stress of the “new normal.” You’ll also feel more energized and enjoy better moods throughout the day.
Practice Mindful Eating
Ever open up a bag of chips, bite into one, and the next thing you know, you’re covered in crumbs and have emptied half the bag? That’s a stress reaction (and it’s also bad news for your weight and other health factors). One of the simplest coping strategies is mindful eating—the practice of paying attention to what you eat, savoring each bite, and being present when you’re eating.
Learning how to practice mindful eating doesn’t have to be challenging to accomplish, either. Slow down. Focus on each bite. Chew every bite multiple times, focusing on the flavor and texture. Finally, pay attention to how you feel after the meal—sluggish and slow? Or energized and ready?
Once you master mindful eating, extend mindfulness to other areas of your life. Practice being really, truly present for everything. Stop checking out during routine moments, and realize just how amazing simple things can be. Use a mindfulness app to help you explore more ways to be calm and mindful.
Cope by Working on Your Exercise Routine
Using a workout to help with emotional wellness might sound confusing. However, the truth is that physical exercise has been linked directly to mental and emotional health. It can help us relax by reducing cortisol and other stress hormones in the body, as well as increasing the presence of dopamine and other “feel-good” endorphins that do everything from elevating our moods to reducing pain and inflammation.
Of course, exercise is also a great way to get away from it all for a little while. Going for a run, getting in some cardio, engaging in a rowing session—these all provide your brain with some downtime to subconsciously process what’s been going on and come to grips with life. Even as little as ten minutes of exercise a day can do wonders for your mood (and your metabolism). So what are you waiting for? Get out there and break a sweat!
Practice Gratitude Coping Strategies for Stress
Take a look at how grateful people and ungrateful people go through life. People who have a deep sense of gratitude are often happier and more content. They also struggle less with toxic emotions, focus more on positive things in life, are more optimistic, and even experience less physical pain and discomfort. In contrast, those who are less grateful tend to be more self-centered, less happy, more chained to toxic thoughts and emotions, and struggle with stress, pain, and chronic health problems.
Of course, to enjoy the benefits here, you need to learn how to practice gratitude. Thankfully, there are some pretty simple ways to start working gratitude into your life. You could try keeping a gratitude journal where you remind yourself daily of the good things you enjoy. You could remember the struggles you’ve overcome to get where you are now. Or you could practice meditation, use visual reminders, or even work in a spiritual tradition, like prayer.
Do Some Self-Meditation
The final tip on our list is to use self-meditation. When it comes to simple, effective, and powerful coping strategies, meditation is one of the “must-have” tools. It can reduce stress, help you control anxiety, release fears about not being in control, and promote emotional health.
However, many people struggle with meditating solo. That’s natural, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Group meditation can provide you with a social connection, plus the benefits associated with traditional self-meditation.
Whichever you decide to try, go slow. Understand that learning how to meditate is a lot like practicing gratitude. It takes time to get into the groove, but you will begin noticing differences almost immediately, even if you don’t feel like you’re a reborn Zen monk.
Bringing It All Together
No, the “new normal” probably isn’t going away any time soon. The chances are good that social distancing, masks, limited capacity in venues, and other safeguards will stay in place for months to come. However, that doesn’t have to mean feeling disconnected from life, or that you’re no longer in control.
Use the simple coping strategies we outlined above to reconnect with life in new and powerful ways. Focus on getting more (and better) sleep. Work out to reduce stress and feel better. Meditate alone or with a group, focus on developing a sense of gratitude, and live mindfully to experience every beautiful second that is your life.