We all are experiencing varying degrees of stress and worry right now. In response to this collective challenge, Integrative Family Medicine of Asheville’s providers came together to brainstorm resources, strategies, and ideas for how we could all reduce the noise level of our anxieties while increasing our emotional resilience, purpose, connectedness, and well-being. Below you will find a list of ideas and resources to inspire, calm, and support you.
- Boundaries: First and foremost, consider limiting your exposure to news & social media to defined amounts and set times. It is good to be aware of what is going on, yet too much exposure can cause unnecessary stress.
- Be present: Make the time to get outside and notice spring arriving. Listen to the birds, notice the cherry blossoms, and feel the warmth of the air or the sudden cold of our last freeze. Let yourself be present with what is lovely and good right now.
– If you have neighbors, reach out and let them know who you are. This can support you in building community. Coming together in times of hardship helps us remember that we are not alone. Connecting over our collective challenges brings us together, makes us stronger, and could work towards healing the perception of division and isolation that has grown in recent years. Together, we can also take community actions like honoring the bravery, hard work, and vulnerability of the doctors, nurses, medical assistants, administrative staff, and janitors who are working hard in our hospitals. See examples in these articles: in the New York Times and Newsweek .
– Find a way to consistently touch base with your closest friends and family. Make use of video-capable platforms to virtually visit with friends and loved ones. Some that you might consider are: Facetime, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger Video Chat, or the Marco Polo app (think texting, but in video format).
- Mindfulness: While it is easier to remember to meditate, exercise, and eat well when stress is low, stressful times require self care! Mindfulness Meditation is a wonderful tool for reducing stress. Additionally it has been showing in clinical studies to improve sleep, lower blood pressure, and reduce anxiety. Now could be a great time to learn this skill. Here are some resources to facilitate a learning a mindfulness practice: Waking Up, Asheville Mindful Living, Headspace, Insight Timer, Calm, Self-Compassion.org and Tara Brach’s Pandemic resource page
- Movement: Exercise can help to reduce stress and support your overall health. Exercising outside is one option — walking, jogging, or biking through your neighborhood. However, there are many free resources online to facilitate a home workout routine: Fitness Blender, Yoga with Adrienne, The Fitness Marshall, and more.
- Purpose: The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting all of us. It has changed lives, affected jobs, and isolated us from one another. Finding purpose amidst the stress can be another great way to reduce fear and anxiety while promoting connection and focus. Join in on efforts to support the most vulnerable in our communities. (The Council on Aging of Buncombe County and One Buncombe are great options if you have financial resources to share). Make a list of the positive actions that are within your control to make — from making masks for frontline medical providers, ordering take-out from your favorite restaurant, or reaching out to one loved one every day. Regardless of what’s on your list, experiment with doing one thing from it every day.
- Fun: Humor, pleasure, and joy are the antidotes to fear. Connect with your loved ones by attending events together, virtually! Many musicians, yoga instructors, and other presenters/teachers are making excellent use of online platforms to provide entertainment and inspiration during these times. Make a plan with friends to attend the same online event or class together. See, for example, this free Yale course, “The Science of Well-being.”
- Knowledge: Now is a great time to gather knowledge on how to optimally navigate hard times. Join our April Book Club (Hardwiring Happiness). Explore free podcasts that share strategies for emotional resilience, happiness, etc. and those which resonate with your interests. Examples could include The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos. Dr. Santos has episodes on “Rising to a Challenge, “ how to “Coach Yourself Through a Crisis,” how to “Beat your Isolation Loneliness,” and more.
We hope some of these resources and ideas feel helpful. You can visit our Facebook page for more ideas, information, and to see the events we are offering. We have also created an information page on our website that we will keep up to date with useful information, links, resources, and recommendations: https://www.integrativeasheville.org/coronavirus-information/. Integrative Family Medicine of Asheville is here for you during this unprecedented and challenging time. Together we are capable of more than we are alone. Together we will get through this.