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Staying Calm & Managing Stress

Presented by Donna Blakely AAMS®, MBA

For those of you that know me well, you know that when I am not in control of situations, I tend to be a little hyper, stressed and anxious. I can hear my real good friends asking, “a little?” Seriously, as I have gotten older, I have tried to focus on things that I can control and things that help me deal with that unexpected stress.

During a public crisis, such as the health pandemic we’re currently experiencing, heightened feelings of stress and anxiety are normal. But, if left unchecked, stress and anxiety can lead to many health problems. That’s why, in times like these, we need to place a priority on reducing our stress. Fortunately, there are small things we can do every day that can relieve anxiety and bring us greater peace of mind.

To help you cope with the current challenges and uncertainties, I would like to share some tips for managing stress that I have tried. By focusing on these few small changes, you could be helping yourself stay healthy—in mind and body.

Stay Social Through Technology

To help stop the spread of the coronavirus, we are all adhering to the social distancing guidelines set by the federal government and the Centers for Disease Control. But, with the amazing technology available today, we don’t have to be face to face to connect with our family, friends, and work colleagues. Make a point of reaching out to them regularly via phone, videoconference, or social media. They’re probably feeling isolated and stressed, too, so they will likely be delighted to hear from you. As appropriate, it’s a good idea to share how you are coping with your emotions. It is not healthy to hold everything inside.

Mind Your Media Usage and Look for Positive Distractions

Staying social through technology does not mean scrolling through social media for hours or glued to hours of the news. There is no doubt you will be inundated with stories of gloom and doom. Some media outlets tend to sensationalize stories to attract a larger audience. This can cause unnecessary alarm. If you feel you must check the headlines, try visiting the websites of more trusted sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization. They will have the most up-to-date news on the coronavirus, along with tips to protect yourself.

It’s also good to find positive distractions, like watching an upbeat movie or listening to your favorite music. Online shopping can be fun but remember to stay within your budget!

Enjoy the Benefits of Exercise

When a crisis disrupts your routine, it is a good time to try something new. During a health pandemic, social distancing guidelines recommend limiting your contact with others. So, if going to a gym or mall walking (or any other indoor activity) is your regular workout, you may wish to change things up. Why not take advantage of the great outdoors with its wonderful fresh air and sunlight? A good way to get started is simply to take a 15- to 20-minute walk a few times a week. Look around at the beauty as mother nature begins to wake up from a long winter. Taking a walk at lunch or some other time during the workday gives you a healthy break from stressful responsibilities or news alerts. Even if your job or family responsibilities are demanding, you won’t be doing anyone (least of all yourself) any favors by skipping exercise. If you don’t have a regular exercise routine, however, it’s wise to start slow and easy with something your doctor would approve of.

Stick to Regular Mealtimes and Healthy Snacks

Nutritionists recommend we eat a variety of foods, especially whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. If you normally have good dietary habits, don’t fall victim to skipping meals or breaking your own snacking rules now. If you tend to eat less healthfully, it may be difficult to make a major change at this time. Try focusing on one or two steps you can take to improve your diet and encourage friends and loved ones to do the same.

Be Sure to Get Enough Sleep

Have you ever noticed how things seem nowhere near as bad the next morning as they do if you dwell on them at night when you can’t sleep? Lack of sleep affects our health, mood, and ability to focus—all factors we need to keep in the best possible condition right now. Make a serious effort to get a good night’s rest—which means no jumping out of bed at 2:00 a.m. to check your email. If you aren’t getting the deep sleep you are used to, do what you can to at least make some time to relax and completely disconnect.

Remember to Take Deep Breaths

The internet is a treasure trove of instructions on how to improve your breathing—especially when you’re stressed. Lotus position, diaphragm awareness, pranayamas, counting while inhaling and exhaling . . . who knew breathing was so complex? While all these instructions can be useful, you likely are not in a position to learn deep-breathing techniques right away. For now, simply being aware that stress tends to make us breathe more shallowly may help us to reverse the tendency. Taking just a few deep breaths three or four times during the day may be the best thing you can do right now. And you’re likely to feel better immediately.

Make Small Changes, Enjoy the Benefits!

With all of the advice above, remember to use good judgment. If you have doubts about making any changes or have any health concerns, contact your doctor or another health professional. But the tips for stress management discussed above touch on factors within your control. By making small changes, you may find that your mind and body thanks you. I found these tips help me deal with my stress and by trying some of these, you may be better prepared to cope with the challenges of this, or another disruption in your normal day-to-day.

Engage with the entire Blakely Financial team at WWW.BLAKELYFINANCIAL.COM to see what other expert advice we can provide towards your financial well-being.

DONNA BLAKELY is the Director of Operations at BLAKELY FINANCIAL, INC. located at 1022 Hutton Ln., Suite 109, High Point, NC 27262 and can be reached at (336) 885-2530.

Blakely Financial, Inc. is an independent financial planning and investment management firm that provides clarity, insight, and guidance to help our clients attain their financial goals.

Securities offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser.

*Prepared by Commonwealth Financial Network