When our life gets thrown a huge curveball it tends to stress us out more than a little bit. One day we’re happily living our lives, and the next it’s a whole new world.
And as of this writing, most of us are literally living 24/7 in our homes as we try to evade and avoid the destructive COVID-19 virus that has invaded the majority of the world’s countries. So the thought of how to keep stress under control during a difficult time is something that is at the forefront of our minds.
We will prevail, and we will carry on. But right now, today, we have to find ways to cope, to deal with the stress, to adjust our daily life activities, and maintain our wellbeing for the next weeks or months. That in itself, the “how long?” question, is a big unknown.
My thoughts and suggestions are focused primarily on women who are in midlife, probably don’t have young ones in the household, and have some degree of flexibility in their schedules. I am in my 60’s and work full time from my home. Even so, I am making adjustments to how I live out my daily routine during this shift to an ongoing ‘everyday getaway’ within my home.
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10 Ways to Keep Stress Under Control & Maintain Your Focus During Difficult Times
1 | Maintain the balance
When we’re thrown into a situation that is all-consuming, our natural tendency is to let it consume us. We want to know what’s happening, but we don’t want to know what’s happening.
So we tune in, check in, check in again, and before you know it we’ve spent a couple of hours going further down that ever-changing information-needed hole.
As much as you can, make a conscious effort to make sure that your day is not skewed one way or the other. Yes, keep up with the world’s happenings. But don’t forget to eat well, to exercise, to provide the daily self-care that your mind, body, and spirit need.
If you could use a helpful, gentle nudge in this area, learn more about my email series course, Fresh Start Challenge. Get your mind, body, and spirit in sync so you can focus on what’s most important in your life right now.
2 | Treat yourself well
When you’re spending so much time at home it’s easy to get into the habit of wearing your PJ’s all day long, and letting your normal beauty routine fall by the wayside.
Don’t let yourself fall into that habit.
Wear something comfy, of course, but make it an outfit that you enjoy wearing (not the PJ’s you just slept in all night!).
Take a few minutes to style your hair, put on a bit of makeup if that’s part of your routine. Do something for yourself that makes you feel pretty, like polishing your fingernails or the toenails.
Even if you’re not heading out to go shopping, or to church, or to a friend’s house, or out to dinner, remember to take a few minutes each day to tend to the basics. It really will help you feel better and reduce stress.
3 | Tune out for a while
Staying informed is a good thing, but remember to keep the balance in your day.
Give yourself a break from the news updates for an hour or so and read a book, listen to music, meditate or pray, or work on your hobby.
You don’t have any hobbies, you say? Well, what better time than the present to find something to get involved in! Whether it’s spending 20 minutes a day to learn new language, a card game, putting together an intricate puzzle, or even a paint-by-number for adults, you’ll reap many benefits from tuning the world out for a time and tuning in to something else.
4 | Be thankful
When it comes to learning how to keep stress under control, remembering to be thankful for what you have, for what you are still able to enjoy, is very effective.
What are 3 things that you are thankful for?
Take those thoughts a step further and write them down in a notebook or a journal.
After you write them down, say them out loud.
- I am thankful for…
- I am thankful that…
- I am grateful for…
- And more…
Taking this step will not only help you remember that there is still much to be thankful for, it will also help you be calmer and less stressed.
5 | Stay active
When our daily routine is turned upside down we feel like nothing is the same. Because it isn’t.
And that can result in a lot of sitting around, more than usual. Try not to do that.
Get up and move around regularly. Schedule your ‘walkabout’ time if you have to. If you can walk outside safely, get some fresh air for 10 or 15 minutes a couple of times a day.
If that isn’t an option, walk around your house. Turn on some music and dance for a few minutes. Do you have stairs in your home? If you are physically able, go up and down the stairs several times.
I’ve become quite a fan of ‘inside walking’ in the last six months or so, while the weather outside has been too cold and nasty for the fresh air walks. I’ve incorporated gentle jogging, marching in place, and strength movements into my indoor walking routine.
I love – love – love my new walking shoes, too. They are so comfortable for indoor walking, and actually for just plain wearing around the house. So even if you don’t want to walk for exercise inside your home, you do walk around, right? Check them out using the link above. They’re available on Amazon so can be shipped right to your home.
The activity will get your blood flowing and you will feel better. Your body will thank you for it, too.
6 | Take the focus off of you
When we are thinking about how to keep stress under control during difficult times, our focus tends to go inward. And I think that’s normal.
Try this instead. It’s really simple.
Call someone you care about and check in with them. See how they’re doing. Listen to them and empathize with their difficulties or worries.
Make the focus of your call to be all about the other person. You don’t have to have all the answers for them; just listen. At this moment it’s not about you.
Alternatively, you might not pick up the phone at all. Is there someone in your home who you could do the same for? A spouse, partner, adult child, parent who is with you? Take the focus off of you and take a few minutes to focus on them.
7 | Enjoy some comfort food…sometimes
What do most of us want to do when we’re stressed? Yep. We eat.
Combine that with less activity, my friend, and at our age, the result isn’t pretty. It’s hard enough to maintain a healthy weight as we age when we eat properly and exercise regularly!
But all that said, sometimes we just need to allow ourselves to indulge in that dish we love. It really can help relax and reduce stress for a while.
I love breakfast, and if I could, I’d eat pancakes, waffles, french toast, and omelets every day. Of course, I don’t, because I’m in the “eat it today, wear it tomorrow” club at this stage of life.
But once in a while, I let myself indulge in those breakfast foods that I love. Recently it was pancakes, for one, of course. I made them from scratch, just for me, and they were awesome!
What’s your go-to comfort food?
8 | Remember to work out
Getting older isn’t easy, that’s for sure. I’ve learned that a combination of healthy eating, aerobic exercise, and strength training, is the key to looking and feeling good as I age.
- your endorphins are pumped up and you feel better
- focusing on this single task of exercise can help target and clear your mind
- you may sleep better, feel more relaxed, and lessen the tendency to become depressed
You might be accustomed to heading to the fitness center for a class, or for your workout. Or, this huge change to your lifestyle might leave you feeling uncertain about how to best work out.
Here are some suggestions for you, all from sources I have personally used in the past. And, they are all geared toward women over 50. Check them out and see what might work for you.
- Body Dynamix with Debbie Siebers – perfect if you need non-impact exercise routines
- Body Groove with Misti Tripoli – fun and easy dance routines as well as gentle yoga and Pilates. If I can do them, anyone can.
- Linda Melone – free workout videos plus wonderful programs you can join. She is amazing.
This might be the perfect time to set some healthy lifestyle goals and make them a part of your daily routine. Then, they’ll turn into healthy habits that you can continue with, even after you’re able to resume a regular life and schedule.
Take a peek at the Inspired Living printable set I created just for women in midlife. It’s perfect for setting goals and recording aspirations, committing to a workout plan in writing, tracking your food intake, utilizing a planner, and more.
9 | Try a new recipe
Even if you’re not a great cook or don’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen, find a recipe and give it a try (if you have or can get the ingredients).
I have an Alexa Echo Show, and I am always being shown some nifty recipe to try. I don’t try too many, although I’ve saved quite a few of them for a rainy day.
Guess what? It’s raining.
Find your recipe and go for it. The project will take your mind off of what is worrisome, it will help you keep stress under control, and you’ll probably have some fun along the way.
10 | Keep the faith
We may have different views on faith and how it applies to our lives. For me, my faith and trust are in the Lord. I know that He always has things under control even when we don’t understand it and can’t see it.
Wherever your faith lies, now is the time to hone it in and make it a part of your daily life.
Do you pray? Pray often.
Do you meditate? Meditate regularly.
Do you read scripture or a meaningful book? Read daily.
One thing we know for sure, and that is, we don’t know what tomorrow may bring to us. But we can find options when it comes to knowing how to keep stress under control during those difficult times.
And, we will prevail. We’re women over 50 who are strong, capable, wise, and we understand that whatever the situation we’re facing, it too shall pass.