How to Maintain Balance During Uncertainty By Leslie Rusch-Bayer, RD, LDN, CPT

Very few people within my professional environment are aware that I am a very anxious person. At work, I often speak confidently, try to maintain a positive and light-hearted attitude, work hard, and spend most of my days trying to provide health-improving dietary support to my patients. 

Let me tell you; the last couple of days have taken a toll on my mind. Added to all the stress of our current viral environment, I am currently at home caring for two sick children, school will be canceled for at least two weeks, the information and news on social media are coming from every angle and local businesses are being forced to temporarily close. My brain automatically puts itself in overactive mode, and all I can do is worry about how these changes are affecting everyone. (Welcome to my Type A, overactive kind.) I was so anxious last night that I found myself browsing the CDC website for information, and I am happy I did.  Click here for key tips to stress management that helped decrease my fear in certain areas. Please consult the CDC website for other great tools and resources.

So what can individuals do in times of uncertainty? One of the best uses of time over the next two weeks should include some form of stress management. Stress management looks different for everybody. 

Exercise:

I am an athlete at heart, and my husband knows to gently urge me to go exercise when he feels my anxiety rising. Exercise will help relieve tension, and a gentle release of positive endorphins will leave you feeling more in control of your emotions. Check out YouTube, where you can search for different free workouts you can complete at home. I often recommend Chair HIIT workouts for a fast “burn” at home!

Yoga, meditation, and or Tai Chi: Intense cardiovascular activity is not inviting to everyone. Slow, non-weight bearing movements, along with meditations, may help slow your thoughts and relieve stress. They tend to be easy on the body and joints. You do not need long periods of time, to start, try ten to fifteen minutes daily.  The Breathing Tree: Facebook is leading classes online for the next few weeks.

Devotionals:

Daily devotions or repeating positive phrases: A daily devotional, scripture reading, positive short stories or phrases may help start your day on a more positive note. 

Moderate News Intake:

Take a social media break. Researching, reading articles, political views, and others’ thoughts can negatively impact your fear, anxiety, and thoughts. Instead, check-in once daily. Only read credible articles. Don’t engage in unhealthy conversations. Stop automatically “scrolling” as part of your normal day. 

Diet & Nutrition:

Maintain a healthy diet. A healthy diet rich in nutrients will not only help your immune system, but it will also nourish your mind. Finances may become tight for some in the upcoming weeks. Think of cooking an extra helping for a neighbor or friend who is struggling. If possible, shop locally or tip your take-out employee a little more than normal. Make a game out of using up different pantry foods and trying new recipes. 

Outreach:

Seek help when needed. A quick text or phone call to a friend may help calm anxious feelings. In this time of social distancing, focus on maintaining positive relationships with friends, families, neighbors, elderly, churches, and other community organizations through text, phone calls, FaceTime, Skype, and Facebook Messenger. Don’t feel bad calling a known counselor or medical professional when needed.

Times may be challenging, and it is difficult not to get wrapped up in the chaos mentally. Step away and realize there is so much good in our community and the world. Help others. Wave at a neighbor. Post positively. Be the reason someone smiles today. 

Your anxious RD,

Leslie