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There’s no easy way to say it – a pandemic means it’s a stressful time across the globe right now. To alleviate your worry, stress, and anxiety on such a tender subject, though, we wanted to put together this guide. There are some healthy ways you can manage your stress and anxiety around the Coronavirus, and that’s what we’re here to touch on today.
BEFORE WE DIVE IN...
One important thing to remember is, everyone handles stress differently. Each person reacts differently during stressful situations, so the methods you use to manage your stress may vary from someone else’s. It’s learning to cope with that stress together that can make a community stronger.
We look at what the CDC recommends for how families can come together to cope with the stress, and how to reduce stress in oneself as well. They provide signs and changes to watch out for in children and teenagers when stressed. Likewise, they suggest staying informed of the real facts and potential risks involving COVID-19.
THE FACTS ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS
- Be informed - but not too informed to the point that you're obsessively checking the news or other information outlets. There are simply things you can do that allows you to stay safer and keep yourself and others healthy.
- Wash your hands - with soap, for a minimum of 30 seconds (it helps to sing out the alphabet in your head if you want to be extra cautious about the time
- Stay home whenever you're sick - and as much as possible in general; exercise social distancing as this is key to squashing this virus in its tracks.
- Avoid touching your face - especially when you are out in public or with unwashed hands; mouth, nose, and eyes are all included!
- Only wear a mask if you are sick - whether it be the N95 mask or anything else, these masks are designed to limit the spread of your own germs, not protect you from ambient germs in the air or from others.
EASY TIPS TO NOT OBSESS OVER COVID-19
- If you're feeling overwhelmed or overly-stressed, take a step away from the media. News over-consumption is easy to get too much of - and that's okay!
- If anxiety becomes an ongoing issue for you when reading up on the subject, try to limit your media consumption to a specific timeframe within the day. Even just thirty minutes a day is plenty of time to allow you to stay informed on the Coronavirus without overindulging to the point of obsession and worry.
- Stick to trustworthy news sources. There's no need to incite panic in yourself by reading something from a satire news outlet that's not even reporting real facts. While this is a stressful time, there are almost many platforms taking advantage of the mass hysteria and using clickbait titles for quick views. The World Health Organization (WHO), CDC, and local public health authorities are going to be your best bets and finding the most reliable and up-to-date news on the Coronavirus.
- Be conscious of what you share across your social media platforms. It's always good to fact-check, double and triple-check your resources to ensure you're not going to incite panic for no reason on COVID-19. Snopes has an entire collection dedicated to the Coronavirus right now that is updated regularly, helping to shine a light on the fake news outlets across the nation.
THINGS YOU CAN PERSONALLY CONTROL REGARDING COVID-19
Understanding everything you can do on your part to prevent the Coronavirus or prevent the spread of it is vital to reducing stress and anxiety on the matter. We want you to feel reassured that you’re doing everything within your power to stay as safe and as healthy as possible. Even better, we want to provide you with all the ways you can personally stay safer from the disease.
- As mentioned already, washing your hands at least 20 seconds each time is a must. However, we also recommend washing frequently. It may also be good to keep a rubbing alcohol spray bottle handy to use when coming into contact with inanimate objects.
- Again, we already touched on it, but avoid touching your face, especially when out in public.
- Follow any and all recommendations provided by local and national health authorities.
- Avoid any non-essential shopping or other trips outside the home. In fact, stay at home as much as possible – and keep it clean. If you do find yourself out in public, allow 6 feet of distance between you and anyone else. Likewise, avoid any crowd of 10 people or more. Gatherings like that should be for when social distancing isn’t recommended anymore.
- Getting enough quality sleep helps improve a healthy immune system, so make sure you’re getting a good night’s sleep.
15 HEALTHY WAYS TO MANAGE YOUR STRESS AND ANXIETY AROUND THE CORONAVIRUS
It’s completely natural to be concerned that you or a loved one might get sick from the Coronavirus, or maybe your workplace closes, or maybe your children have to stay home from school, and you don’t have childcare set up yet. Whatever is stressing you out regarding the virus, there are some things you can do to healthfully push through this.
1. Plan what you can and don't worry about what you cannot
A plan of action, or even a backup plan, is always nice to have tucked away in case of emergencies. We recommend you start by writing out a list of any worries you might have about how COVID-19 could impact your life. Don’t let this stress you out more – if the idea makes you feel overwhelmed, take a break, or move onto the next step.
Then, try to think of all the potential solutions at your disposal. Think of any friends, family, communities, accounts, or other resources that could help you. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect – whatever comes to mind is just your starting place. It’s important when building these lists to not dwell on the circumstances that are beyond your control. Focus only on the concrete problems and issues you can change or resolve.
Finally, it’s time to draw up a plan of action. Dive into this plan of action as soon as you need it but keep it somewhere safe until then to keep your mind at ease. This is an excellent method for reducing stress and anxiety on the impact that the virus might have on your present situation.
2. UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOCIAL DISTANCING AND BEING SOCIALLY ISOLATED
Social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation on all fronts. In the world of today, we have the Internet, full of countless platforms to get in contact with another human being. Keep in contact with your friends, family, and close loved ones now more than ever. Stay updated on what’s happening in their life and keep them updated on what’s going on in yours – even if it’s just sitting at home self-quarantined. Social stimulation at a time like this is vital for emotional and mental health to remain at an appropriate level.
Humans are social creatures, which is why social distancing plays such a negative role in so many of us. Stay in communication through chats, texts, live video calls, and anything else you can do to keep your connection to the outside world alive. We have to cut back on in-person socialization, but we don’t have to give up the rest.
Social media can be a powerful asset during such a stressful time. We’re not alone, no matter how alone we might feel cooped up inside our own home. However, enough social media can still be overwhelming – especially with some of the negativity and panic being posted on some feeds.
Stay mindful of how your social media platforms are making you feel. If you start to feel anxious, stressed, or overwhelmed, maybe consider that it’s time to take a break. Some key signs are looking up things about the Coronavirus through social media instead of trying to use it as a distraction outlet.
When you take away the enjoyment of connecting with others and just use it to obsess more over COVID-19, you call into question the state of your anxiety. Don’t let the disease control every conversation. Try to use social media as an outlet to step away from the fear and panic incited from the virus.
3. TAKE CARE OF YOU
You matter – your body, mind, and spirit are all important. The health of those is equally as important as a result. One of the healthiest ways you can reduce your anxiety and stress on the Coronavirus is to follow these tips on self-care. Everyone deserves to only focus on themselves from time to time. When you’re stuck at home with nothing to do but worry, now is a better time than any.
4. TAKE UP YOGA
Or meditation. Or tai-chi. Or any other relaxation practice to start instilling habits and routines into your day. As an added benefit, relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing help to ease the nervous system back into balance.
A state of equilibrium can sometimes be exactly what you need to feel better. Try to practice around the same time every day, even it’s only for a short period of time because regular daily practice delivers the most effective results.
5. AVOID SELF-MEDICATING
Substance abuse may be easier to slip into at a time like this. Alcohol and other substances are not necessarily the best-equipped medicines to deal with depression or anxiety. Moderation is fine, but make sure you’re not overusing or abusing.
6. TRY TO STAY ACTIVE
If you have a dog, this should be rather easy for you! Another suggestion is to play a game of catch like when you were a kid! Social distancing can be applied to sports all-the-same!
Find ways to exercise so that your immune system can stay in the shape it needs to be in to fight this thing off.
Staying active also helps manage mood, relieve stress, and release anxiety. We don’t recommend hitting the gym, but an at-home workout even with zero equipment is completely possible. You could also go for a walk, hike, or even cycle around your area, as long as you keep at least 6 feet between you and anyone else.
7. ENJOY A HOBBY
Take time out of each day to do an activity that you truly enjoy. Whether it’s crafting something, playing a video game, reading a good book, or any other interest you might have, set aside time to make sure you get to do it. Having a hobby to be able to slip into is a great way to reduce your stress levels and feel your worries melt away.
8. MAINTAIN OR CREATE A ROUTINE
If you had a consistent routine to follow before COVID-19 hit, try to maintain that routine as best as you can. Sticking to a set schedule for when you sleep, eat, learn, work, or do something else you would have regularly can help to maintain at least a sense of normalcy.
9. GO EASY ON YOURSELF
Don’t forget to be kind to yourself during these trying times. You’re not alone in your struggles or how you feel, and any anxiety or stress on the situation is perfectly valid. Go easy on yourself if you find you’re experiencing more anxiety or depression than you typically might.
10. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A GREAT SUPPORT SYSTEM
It’s great to be a shoulder for people to cry on, and an ear for listening when someone needs to vent – but you deserve the same in return. Make sure you’re building a good, emotionally healthy support system not just for the people around you, but also for yourself. Consider the people you consider to be part of your support system and evaluate whether those people would be there for you in a time of need.
Emotions are contagious, and it’s easy to immerse yourself around people that don’t stimulate the most positive of emotions. The level-headed, thoughtful people in your life that are good listeners are those who you should turn to right now while making sure they feel heard at the same time. Avoid talking about the virus, especially to people who might ramp up your fears or be negative about the subject.
There are even apps and other resources that allow you to access free emotional support if you don’t have a support system in place yet. Never feel alone in a world so big – there are people that care about you and want to make sure your emotional health is okay.
11. PAY IT FORWARD through kindness
Sometimes, the best way to reduce anxiety and stress is to focus on others. It sounds so simple – but kindness is one thing some people seldom receive. Be kind to those around you, whether they’re your loved ones or a complete stranger. Refuse to allow this virus to promote prejudice, discrimination, and divided lines between us. As humanity, we’re so much better than that. Be kind to others and perform random acts of kindness.
12. SOMEONE NEEDS YOUR CALM
A calming influence might be all someone needs to feel better about this situation. Be there for your friends and family during this stressful time. Help them deflect false rumors and prevent fear mongering from spreading further. Help fake news end at you so that it can’t press forward and incite further mass panic attack.
It’s okay if you don’t have the resources to – but others do. And for those that do, please donate. Whether that’s to a food bank or other donation center, panic-buying and hoarding mean you have supplies to spare. Others may be so low that they have to worry about where the next meal is coming from. You can be the connection that makes that worry end. If you find it in your heart, please donate.
14. REACH OUT
There may be others in need. The elderly, disabled, and parents may all be struggling in different ways right now, and they’re just waiting for an ear to listen to their concerns. They might not even know it yet. Be that ear for them, and then help them from there. Fulfill a prescription, venture out to safely retrieve groceries for those that don’t want to risk it – do what you can to help.
15. FOLLOW ANY GUIDELINES
Regardless of whether you’re in a high-risk group or not, everyone has a chance of getting and spreading the Coronavirus. Follow all guidelines in place for preventing the spread of the virus and do your part to truly end this disease before it becomes another statistic in our history books.
MOST IMPORTANTLY: THERE'S NO NEED TO PANIC
Of course, that’s easier said than done – but remember that if you stay home, follow all precautions and guidelines, and make sure you’re doing everything else you can to prevent it, then you’re going to be fine.
At a time like this, we simply ask for those in our community to follow this guide and stay safe. From our family to yours, we want everyone to do what they can to end this – together.
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