In the age of COVID, each day we navigate complex workplace and schooling (if we have children) demands, and the loss of a practiced routine. We face limited accessible in-person support and recreation. We may feel overcautious or not cautious enough. In such an environment, give careful consideration to the energy you expend on daily stressors.
On tough days, we may feel like a car stuck on the side of the freeway that has run out of gas. In reality, we’re more like a debit card with a very deep overdraft. As a survival strategy, humans developed the ability to work despite exhaustion. While appropriate for emergencies, this isn’t a strategy intended for prolonged use and can result in physical and emotional costs.
Here are five tips to managing COVID-19 stress demands on a limited energy budget:
1. Budget Your Energy
Create a daily personal energy budget. Identify what you have to do and its energy requirement. Do the same with what you would like to do. The “have-to-dos” may consume all of your energy. Some days your available energy may vary, so be intentional with your budget. If others try to add things to your daily task list, let them know you just cannot do them and budget them for another day.
2. Emphasize High-Yield Recharge Activities
Some activities offer little in means of recharge and reduce opportunities to pursue more beneficial activities (e.g., binge-watching shows or playing on a phone). Include these activities in moderation. Preference should be given to activities you enjoy which result in a sense of accomplishment (e.g., exercising or providing service).
3. Focus on What You Can Control
Accept whatever your reality is and focus on what you can control (e.g., wearing a mask, washing your hands). By focusing on what you can control, you avoid the crippling feelings that come from focusing on what you cannot.
4. Prepare for What You Cannot Control
Acknowledge what you cannot control through preparation. Identify what you need to have in place to feel more comfortable (e.g., are you worried about: Finances? Set a little money aside each paycheck. School for your children? Identify resources or ways to address their schooling.). There will rarely be a perfect solution for any concern. The power here comes from feeling prepared, which will help relieve stress.
5. Essentials are Essential for a Reason
Focus on the essentials (e.g., sleep, diet, exercise, and hygiene). While the duration of this crisis may feel like a lifetime, it will end. Take care of yourself, including your routine health needs. Many healthcare providers offer telephone, video, and, when appropriate, in-person visits.
Information provided by Pomona Valley Health Center – visit MyPVHC.com