Trauma in the Time of the COVID-19 Pandemic – What to do

Young man stretching on a dark background

Stubborn stress overwhelms the nervous system, and stress is cumulative. It’s important to be proactive in reducing stress to avoid serious complications in our physical and emotional self. Here are some practical ways of reducing stress before it becomes toxic while regaining a healthy sense of safety:

Negotiate with your mental and emotional self – understand that this pandemic is just temporary. Any related discomfort, boredom, scarcity will come to an end.

Recreate a sense of peace and safety at home – working from home usually means losing our natural sense of peace there. Home is our sanctuary, but now it has become our children’s school and the office for some of us. Recreate that sense of home nourishment by restricting work and school to specific rooms. If your children need more space for their schooling, protect your bedroom as your safe place, your personal sanctuary.

Structure your day – the long pandemic has dismantled our usual structures and routines. Healthy routines and orderly structures provide a sense of control over our circumstances and ourselves.

Be intentional and diligent in keeping calmotherwise, anxiety will cripple your day and life. Limit your exposure to the news to just a few minutes; take it one day at a time. And practice mindfulness exercises.

Stay in touch with others – use technology and social media to keep connected with family, friends, and neighbors. Organize virtual dinners and other activities with those close to you. Get to know some acquaintances better so they may become new friends.

Breathe, exercise, eat healthy – your nervous system needs to relax. Avoid excessive alcohol, smoking, or drugs since your physical and emotional immunity is vulnerable at this time.

Sleep more at night and rest more often during your working hours – stress is exhausting. Balance your depleted energy with extra rest.

Stay positivecultivate a good attitude by practicing gratitude, often connecting with healthy relationships, avoiding conspiracy theories, walking in nature, and avoiding isolation.

Try new rituals for yourself and your family – rituals are a good way of gaining and maintaining stability during stressful times.

Start a project finding something interesting or useful to do with the extra time you have due to social distancing; it’s rewarding. It’ll boost your sense of control and self-agency.

Connect with your spiritual self at a deeper level – this is a good time to explore or go deeper into your spirituality. It’ll give you a new purpose that transcends that of yours while soothes your soul.

Play music, dance – turn off the TV and let your body and soul move with the rhythms you enjoy.

These practical activities and attitudes will generate and maintain a healthy dose of serotonin and oxytocin in our brains and bodies. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that modulates our sense of satisfaction and reward, mood, cognition, learning, and memory. It contributes to a general sense of well-being and happiness. Oxytocin is a hormone that promotes feelings of love and social bonding. It’s also known as the “love hormone.” Serotonin and oxytocin are key to reduce stress.