Focus on What you can control over difficult times.
Many of us might be feeling a general lack of control these days—like we’re out of the driver’s seat and just along for the ride. Usually, the more in control we feel over what’s happening in our lives, the more motivated, happier, and less stressed we are. At a time when we’re all reaching to take back the steering wheel, it’s helpful to shift our focus and actions to what we can control and influence.
Internal vs. External control
We have a strong sense of internal control when we’re in the driver’s seat, knowing that our choices and actions impact what happens to us. We have a strong sense of external control when we feel like we’re in the passenger seat and that other people or circumstances determine what happens to us.
3 fast facts
- At any given time, both internal and external control are at play. There are things we can and can’t control, and things that fall somewhere in the middle.
- The more control we feel we have over what happens in our lives, the more motivated we are to take action.
- To regain a greater sense of internal control, we can shift our thoughts and focus our actions on what we can control and influence—not what we can’t.
What you can’t control or influence.
Government decisions, what’s left in the supermarket…the list goes on. The more time spent focusing on those things, the more likely you are to be stressed. Once we’ve accepted what’s out of our control, it can actually help you feel more in control.
For example: Schools and restaurants being closed, trips being cancelled.
What you can influence.
Sure, you can’t fix what’s on the news these days (we wish!) or how constant it is, but you can change how you’re responding to it. Try hitting the off button or dedicating one time each day for a news check-in. You can also spread positivity with other members in Connect!
For example: The wellbeing of others, sharing only the
information you know.
What you can control.
Focusing your attention here is powerful. Zone in on what’s in front of you in the present moment—instead of worrying about what may or may not happen in the future. Try practicing mindful breathing, listening to music you love, or diving into a book. Another idea? Try something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t had time for. Learning a new language or cooking from scratch, anyone?
For example: The amount of time you spend on social
media, the food you choose to eat.
Expert tips for staying mentally healthy During Difficult Times
If watching the recent news unfold has left you lying awake at night, you’re not alone.“Humans like control and like being in charge,” says licensed clinical health psychologist Dr. Robyn Pashby, PhD. “In times like these, stress is primarily driven by lack of control, lack of predictability, and fear of harm or danger to oneself
or loved ones.”
Sound familiar? While it’s impossible to control much of what you see in the news, employing self-care techniques that make you feel grounded and connected can protect your mental health in spite of the currentclimate. If anxiety is seriously impacting your daily life (i.e., you wake up not wanting to get out of bed), a mental healthcare visit should be on your agenda.
Otherwise, these coping strategies can help you mind your mental health
1. Prioritise sleep hygiene
The average adult needs about seven to nine hours of sleep per night. But stress and anxiety can make it difficult to clock that much let alone get good quality rest, Dr. Pashby explains. The thing is, poor sleep doesn’t just leave you with droopy eyelids—it can contribute to mood dips and heightened anxiety.
What’s more, skipping sleep can mess with your insulin sensitivity in a way that increases your appetite,according to a review article in the journal Nature and Science of Sleep.
To outsmart stress and get good quality sleep, try to:
- Develop a restful and relaxing bedtime ritual such as shutting your laptop and stowing your phone out of reach, turning off the news, and taking a bath or stretching.
- Get into bed at the same time every night. Not sleepy? Only then should you get out of bed and read a book or magazine until you begin to feel tired. Swiping through your phone isn’t the same as turning pages since the blue light that emanates from your device may suppress melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep/wake cycles, and keep your brain on high alert.
- Avoid excessive caffeine consumption. Typically, it takes four to six hours for your body to metabolise half of the caffeine you’ve consumed. So, if you drink a cup of coffee at 3 p.m., you may still feel remnants of the buzz around 9 p.m.
- Opt for non-alcoholic beverages. While alcoholic beverages may initially make you sleepy, having even one drink in the evening may affect your second and most important stage of sleep, leading to sleep disruptions throughout the night, according to the US Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
- Expose yourself to bright sunlight first thing in the morning. Natural sunlight supports your natural circadian rhythm, or internal clock that regulates your sleep/wake cycles. Research suggests that exposure to daylight can also improve the duration and quality of sleep.
- Get out of bed at the same time every day. Even if you didn’t sleep too well the night before, maintaining a consistent wake-up time and resisting naps over 30 minutes helps your body develop and stick to a natural sleep schedule.
2. Maintain your regular routines
When things feel unpredictable and out of your control, your body may produce an abundance of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Over the course of weeks or months, a chronic surge can heighten your risk of depression, heart disease, and obesity.
However, sticking to a typical schedule, i.e., eating lunch at the same time every day rather than grazing all day when you’re working from home, can help you feel more in control and rein in hormonal fluctuations, Dr. Pashby says.
3. Amp up your physical activity
Exercise can help reduce stress—one reason why it’s smart to follow the Department of Health guidelines and get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 weekly minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity every week. Because spending 20 to 30 minutes out in nature may help lower cortisol levels, taking your exercise outside can deliver a double-whammy.
4. Reframe self talk
Stressors can trigger negative thoughts (i.e., “I can’t handle this” or “I feel out of control”) that reinforce pessimistic beliefs and attitudes. To reverse the effects, Dr. Pashby recommends taking four to five deep breaths and then reframing those thoughts to feel less catastrophic (i.e., “I’m feeling very anxious about what is going on around me, but I am taking as many precautionsas I can to keep me and my family safe.”).
5. Avoid emotional isolation
Interacting with other people—whether it’s a phone call, video chat, or text message—can ease the symptoms of stress and to help you cope, according to a small 2015 study of 77 healthy adults published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science. Can’t fight the urge to holeup by yourself? Think of others: Reaching out toneighbours or elderly friends with an offer to prepare ameal, pick up a prescription, or walk a dog can help you feel more in control—and helpful, Dr. Pashby says.
6. Side-step stress-eating
While digging into a tub of ice cream or another treat that’s high in fat and sugar may temporarily distract you from stress, indulging won’t stomp out the source of it. Before you reach for a handful of chips or a second
serving of lunch, ask yourself: Is your stomach really grumbling, or are feelings fueling your appetite? If you’re dealing with complicated emotions rather than actual hunger, calling a friend, going for a walk, or doing another non-eating activity may help you feel even better than a pint-sized, sugar-laden pick-me-up.
By now, most of us know the basic rules of social distancing, aimed at slowing the spread of the contagious coronavirus: Leave home as little as possible, and when you do, stay at least 1.5 metres away from anyone who doesn’t live in your household. The questionis: With gatherings off-limits—and with shops, cinemas,and cultural attractions temporarily closed —how do youkeep boredom at bay? Here are some ideas that support
public health and personal happiness.
If cabin fever is getting to you Make a video date It’s a pretty safe bet that your friends feel as cooped up as you do. Even if a real-life coffee catch up can’t happen, video conferencing apps such as FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom let you connect virtually and see everyone’s faces. Even better, a group video chat allows you to include people from around the world.
Play some music
Great tunes can spark positive shifts in mindset,motivation, and mood. Use a streaming service such as Spotify or Apple Music to craft a feel-good playlist ofyour personal hits, or dust off your old vinyl collection.Try a home workout Sick of your living room? Turn it into a gym. WW has tons of free home workout tutorials to get you started, including guides on yoga, kettlebells, high-intensityinterval training, and dance. WW members also get ondemand access to personalised Aaptiv audio workouts through the app.
Get some air
Sometimes the best cure for cabin fever is, well, leaving the cabin. Even if you sit on a park bench and spend 20 minutes marveling at nature, studies suggest you could come away feeling calmer and more focused. As longas you’re maintaining a safe physical distance frompeople who don’t live in your household, it’s all good.
If you feel like nesting
Do a wardrobe clean out
Like many people, you probably own more stuff than you actually use or need. Now might be a good time to sift through those clothes at the back of yourwardrobe, the sports gear gathering dust in your garage, and other forgotten possessions. Set aside unwanted items to donate once social-distancing guidelines are lifted. Your home will feel more orderly,and you’ll feel good for setting a positive intention.
Clean your fridge
When was the last time you checked the expiration date on that bottle of steak sauce in the back? Or wiped every stray garlic or onion skin from the crisper drawer? Doing a deep clean of the refrigerator and freezer will help you clear out those ancient perishables so you can see what you really have to work with. Also, you won’t know how weirdly satisfying this is until you do it.
Start a healthy garden
Consider starting an outdoor (or indoor!) garden. Herbs can be a great place to start and you can order seeds, soil, and tools online to start putting down roots.
Rearrange your living space
While you can’t stroll through home-goods stores in search of decorating inspo, you can freshen up your home simply by rearranging. Try swapping out photos in your wall frames, angling your lounge another way,or creating a reading nook by repurposing a cute lampfrom another room. You can collect FitPoints for major rearranging, and you’ll help your home feel new again.
Up your cooking game
With many restaurants temporarily closed, now may be the perfect moment to stretch your skills in the kitchen. Have you been curious about how to butterfly a full chicken? Or make homemade pizza from two-ingredient dough? Go for it. You don’t need
a ton of fancy ingredients—or chef credentials—tocook boldly.
If you want to help others
Support someone you know
Tough times can have a way of bringing out our deepest humanity. One way to make a direct, positive impact? Help people you know to the extent you are able. Who among your family, friends, or neighbours might behurting right now? Perhaps you know of an olderperson who’d be grateful for some grocery-shoppinghelp, or a single parent down the block whose household could use a nappy donation. Researchsuggests that generosity sparks happiness, whichmakes helping out a powerful win-win.
Donate to food relief
With many schools and food pantries across the country closed during the pandemic, many households are facing hunger. If you’re in a position to make acharitable donation, consider giving to an organisation such as Foodbank Australia and New Zealand or Mealson Wheels, all of which are working to address hungerduring the crisis. (They’re also good places to start ifyou’re in need of help.)
Support neighbourhood businesses
Social distancing protocols have been tough onrestaurants, coffee shops, and other businesses that traditionally rely on foot traffic. Keep your communitythriving by continuing to support those localentrepreneurs. Many restaurants are offering takeawayand home delivery, and lots of shops on temporary closure are continuing to sell digital gift cards thatcustomers can use once restrictions are lifted.
Dispel fear mongering
If bad news travels quickly, misinformation moves at warp speeds. Next time you hear an alarmist rumour or spot a sketchy “news” item, check the source beforeyou pass it around. Did the information come throughan official channel, or your local officials? If not, noneed to spread the scaremongering. You’ll be doingeveryone a service.
If you’re home with kids
Hold a game night
In these smartphone-saturated times, it’s easy for an entire evening to slip past with everyone just staring at tiny screens. Take a break and come together over an analogue game instead. Put kids to work in the kitchenEven when you’re not social distancing, it’s great to get kids involved in meal planning. Peer into thepantry and fridge together, have them pick a fewfavourite ingredients, and then delegate age-appropriate tasks such as measuring, cracking eggs, and washing fruits and veggies. They’ll learn about healthy eating habits—and cut down on work for you.
Take a virtual tour
You can’t exactly hop on a plane to Paris and cruise the Louvre right now, but thanks to virtual tours, you and your kids can still marvel at the museum’s iconicGalerie d’Apollon right from the family laptop. It’s oneof many free virtual field trips being offered by cultural sites, zoos, aquariums, and other attractionsaround the world—proving you don’t need to leavehome to broaden your family’s horizons.
Try free teaching tools
Whether your family is in full homeschool mode or you just want your kids to enjoy some extra enrichment, many educationalcompanies are now offering free online subscriptions during the coronavirus outbreak.
Create some TikToks
If you have tweens or teens in your household, chances are you’ve heard of TikTok, the wildly popular platform for sharing short-form dance, lip sync, andcomedy videos. Next timeyour family needs a laugh, try choreographing some clips together. Yes, you’ll probably look ridiculous, but that’s kind of the point.
If your mind needs a boost
Read for pleasure
Lots of us have been devouring more reading material lately, everything from lessons for the kids to neverending news reports. Your brain deserves a break!Whether you’re pulling old faves from your bookshelves, ordering hardcovers online, or reading ebooks through your local library, opt for selections you find immersiveand pleasurable. Try a graphic novel that tickles your visual senses, a funny memoir to help get your mind off current events, or a riveting mystery novel you just can’t put down. Even better: Start a virtual book club with friends.
Check out a podcast
This is a great idea if you want to jog your brain without making your eyeballs do the work of reading. Tackle a new skill
Challenging the mind with “demanding tasks” mayactually support long-term brain health, according to a 2013 review article in Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience. If you have downtime during your hours of social distancing, it might be beneficial to try a newskill or hobby. Ideas that don’t require special tools or gear include learning a language, drawing, and writing. Search YouTube for tutorials to get started. Meditate Regular meditation may help lessen the strain of being stuck at home by supporting mental resilience and reducing anxiety.
Source: Weight Watchers