Let’s face it: Spending several days—or weeks!—cooped up at home can be stressful, especially if you’re there with family, roommates, children, pets, parents…whoever! For many people, family dynamics can be a trigger for stress and anxiety and the unhealthy coping techniques that accompany them.
“Consider how stressful a ‘normal’ day is when you’re getting yourself and family ready for the day, going to work, running errands. Sometimes being stuck at home can be even more stressful,” says Nicole Flanagan, MA, a behavioral health therapist at the Mirmont Outpatient Center in Exton, part of Main Line Health.
Maybe you rely on your commute to work to decompress after a busy morning routine, or you look forward to a weekly coffee date with a friend to vent about work. When you’re stuck at home, you don’t have these same opportunities to take the time and space you need to distance yourself from stressful situations. So how do you manage your stress when you can’t leave home? Flanagan offers some suggestions below.
Indulge at home
For some people, stress relief comes in the form of indulgence—that can mean anything from scheduling an appointment for a massage to treating yourself to a new book to read to finding an hour a day for a workout. While your options may be limited, you can still find little ways to indulge when you’re at home. Try:
- Going for a walk around your neighborhood
- Ordering takeout for dinner, if you usually cook
- Making yourself a cup of coffee or tea
- Going to an empty or quiet area of your home to read for a half hour
- Taking a bath
Actions like these might sound insignificant, but they are often the things we neglect to do for ourselves when we’re busy or caring for others. Find little ways to treat yourself so your plate isn’t so full you forget about self-care.
Write it down
Keeping all of our stress and frustrations pent up makes it hard to deal with them. Instead, try keeping a journal. “Write down stressful thoughts and situations that you’re dealing with. Sometimes, it can help to just see these written out in front of you. You may also want to write down two or three things that you can do, now or in the near future, to help alleviate this stress,” suggests Flanagan.
Flanagan also suggests writing down the things you’re grateful for. In the midst of uncertain and stressful times, taking note of the little things—birds chirping, a sunny day, a favorite movie you’re watching—can help keep things in perspective.
Create something new
Not all of us are natural-born artists, but there are lots of opportunities every day for us to express ourselves and create something new. The opportunity to be creative can help get your mind off of stress and be a healthy outlet to turn to instead of alcohol, drugs, food or other addictive behaviors. Consider painting, writing and drawing even if you never have before. If art isn’t your specialty, you might also consider cooking or baking something you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t had the time. Take on a home improvement project you’ve been avoiding.
You can also get creative by learning a new skill—no matter what you choose, there are an endless supply of online videos and resources to help you learn it!
When you’re spending most of your time at home, it can be hard to feel connected to anyone who doesn’t share a space with you every day. Remember to keep in touch with colleagues, friends and family virtually through video chat or even phone calls and text messages. Virtual communication has never been more accessible, so use it to your advantage and call a friend to talk about a stressful situation or ask for advice.
Staying connected to a spiritual community can help, too. “Whatever you believe in, find a way to connect to your higher self,” urges Flanagan. “This could mean exploring nature, meditation or prayer.”
And finally, you can find ways to stay connected by helping people you haven’t even met. Consider donating your time, talent or resources through local volunteer or fundraising opportunities. Helping someone else can remove you from stressful situations or worries about your life and allow you to focus on the positive and help someone else.
Remember to practice self-compassion and positive self-talk
Stress is inevitable, and it happens to all of us at one point or another. When a stressful situation arises, remember to go with the flow. Adjust your expectations and remember that all you can control are your actions and reactions. Consider how your reaction can improve or worsen a situation, and respond accordingly.
And, above all, remember to be kind to yourself. If you overreact to a stressful situation, cut yourself some slack. Don’t blame yourself for situations that occur and, if you are feeling angry, anxious or upset, take some time away before responding.
If you find yourself struggling to cope with stress, depression or anxiety, Mirmont is here to help. Start the road to recovery today. Call us at 1.888.CARE.898 (227.3898) to schedule a confidential appointment. Or, use our secure online form to email us