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Six ways to feel less overwhelmed during COVID

With everything going on in the world right now, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. You may be experiencing mental, emotional and physical fatigue as the pandemic continues. As a result, perhaps you’ve developed unhealthy habits, such as constantly checking the news, overeating or spending too much time on the couch.

“Most of us never thought that quarantine would last this long,” says Angela Buttimer, MS, NCC, RYT, LPC, a licensed psychotherapist at Cancer Wellness at Piedmont. “People started indulging like it was a vacation because they didn’t think it would last and those habits became ingrained.”

If you need a change, Buttimer shares strategies she uses with her clients to coach them through challenging times.

1. Take inventory of your life

The first step to feeling less overwhelmed is to take inventory of your life. This exercise can help you identify any negative habits – particularly those that have developed during COVID-19 – that aren’t serving your mental and physical health. Buttimer recommends writing down:

  • What’s working in your life that you want to keep doing

  • What you need to change, release or stop doing

  • What you’re not doing, but can add to improve your life

2. Consider your mindset

Buttimer says your mindset is the most important component of changing your habits and lifestyle and feeling less overwhelmed.

“I’m a mindset coach, so mindset is always the starting point,” she explains. “You have to decide that you’re worth living as the best version of yourself – the happiest and healthiest version.”

Then, consider why you want to make changes in your life. Otherwise, she says, the changes won’t stick.

“Think about where you want to be in six months to a year from now,” says Buttimer. “Small daily choices add up. Put together, they’re where you’ll be months or years from now. Each choice counts.”

3. Create your ideal morning routine

Buttimer says one of the best ways to change your life is to create a morning routine that helps you feel calm, grounded and energized.

“Make time every morning to set the tone for the day and take charge of how you feel,” she says.

Depending on your personality and goals, your morning routine could include:

  • Exercise

  • Yoga

  • Meditation

  • Reading something inspirational

  • Listening to music you enjoy

4. Seek accountability and support

“Don’t isolate yourself,” she says. “Reach out to others so you feel supported and get strategies for your situation.”

She recommends connecting with a counselor, coach, physician or support group. It’s also helpful to have an accountability partner, such as a friend, family member or spouse.

“We trick ourselves into going down a slippery slope of bad habits,” she says. “Find someone to help you stay accountable to your intentions and let them know your ‘why.’”

There are also many free resources you can use at home, from fitness apps to meditation programs to online classes. If you’re over 62, most states allow you to audit college classes free of charge, Buttimer notes.

5. Set boundaries and delegate

Boundaries are super important because we’re all in close quarters now,” says Buttimer. “The first person to set boundaries with is yourself.”

She recommends having an open discussion with members of your household – including your kids – about what each of you needs. 

“Keep open communication about your boundaries, such as quiet times or do-not-disturb times,” she says. “Also, people in your household may be doing something different than they did pre-COVID. We’re all on a learning curve and have to be open to what others are feeling and needing for their well-being.”

6. Practice self-compassion

Buttimer says many of her coaching clients have expectations that they should be getting more done during quarantine.

“I encourage people to be kind and gentle to themselves,” she says. “It’s OK if you feel tired – it’s a lot of mental and emotional stress right now. We’re not only dealing with our own stressors, but also containing the stressors of those around us. It’s OK to slow down and make more time for self-care, family and friends.”

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