It is easy to get to the breaking point. The constant stresses brought on by Covid-19, compounded by the constant exposure to bad news and negative stories is enough to wear on anyone to the point you feel like you are “over it.”
But there may be something you can do to manage the newfound stresses and find the balance you are looking for.
During Local Profile’s Women in Business Summit, presented by Baylor Scott & White Health, Dr. Kenleigh McMinn, a clinical psychologist with Baylor Scott & White Medical Psychology Consultants, shared four self-care techniques that have been shown to reduce stress and increase well-being.
When it comes to sleep, Dr. McMinn points out that both quantity and quality matter.
“It’s one thing to say ‘I got 10 hours of sleep last night,’ but if you were tossing and turning that isn’t good quality,” Dr. McMinn says. “And you might not be as rested if you got 6 or 7 hours of good quality sleep.
So how do you increase the quality of your sleep? Dr. McMinn suggests improving your sleep hygiene:
consistently sleep/wake at the same time
sleep in a dark, quiet, cool room
find relaxing bedtime routines
limit screen time before bed as well as caffeine and alcohol
don’t watch the clock if you are struggling to sleep.
During the presentation Dr. McMinn also points out one of the biggest benefits to physical activity may actually be its affect on your mental health.
In addition to helping balance your weight, she says that moving at least 150 minutes a week (as recommended by the American Heart Association), can lead to better sleep, memory balance and lowers risk of depression.
“It could be 30 minutes 5 days a week, longer stretches of 60 minutes, or it could be 5-15 minutes at a time – whatever you need to do to try to get it in,” Dr. McMinn says.
Dr. McMinn adds that even a quick walk can affect stress levels and productivity, a benefit that is amplified by being outdoors around trees or greenery.
“We know exercise is good for us,” she says. “We just have to make time for it”
Mindfulness has become a popular word in pop psychology, but its popularity may be warranted. Dr McMinn notes in her presentation the practice has led to reduced stress, improved focus and memory, and decreases in emotional reactivity.
Some may have a preconceived notion that mindfulness has to be an intensive, formal meditation practice, but it is easy to get started. Dr. McMinn suggests using mindfulness apps like “Calm,” “Smiling Mind,” or “Headspace” and using them whenever you have a free moment.
“Put it where your most commonly used app usually sits,” she says. “This will help you fill the minutes you might have spent mindlessly scrolling with a mindfulness exercise instead.”
“Even if there are some things going wrong in the world, there is plenty to be grateful for,” Dr. McMinn says. “So make the effort to show your gratitude at home and work.”
Dr. McMinn recommends starting with the simple exercise of writing down one to three things you are grateful for on a sheet of paper at home. Then at work, you can show your gratitude by sending a quick letter or email to someone you appreciate by noting the situation, describing the behavior, and sharing the impact it had on you.
“The exercises help retrain your brain to focus more on positives than negatives,” she says.
Women in Business Wednesdays is an email series brought to you by Baylor Scott & White Health, an advertiser with Local Profile.