April is Stress Awareness Month, and to say that 2020 was “stressful” feels like an understatement. From facing the devastating impacts of COVID-19 to the continuing fight for racial justice and equity—and much of it carrying over into 2021—people are worn out.
For many of us, our homes became (and remain) our offices. Actually, before restrictions started being lifted, our homes were, well, everything. Happy hours, game nights, birthday parties, and baby showers all became virtual. Dining out became delivery or getting creative and learning new recipes. Retailers were selling out of weights because people were eager to maintain their workout routines amid gyms closing. The list goes on.
How Remote Work Increases Stress
According to a survey published by TELUS International, remote working played a huge role in how employees started viewing the importance of mental health in 2020.
- 75% of U.S. workers struggled at work due to anxiety caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and other world events.
- 4 out of 5 workers find it hard to “shut off” in the evenings.
- Over half of respondents had taken a “mental health day” since they started working from home due to the pandemic.
- 97% of respondents said that vacation days while working from home were necessary for “recharging.”
- Half of the respondents cited that their sleep patterns had been interrupted due to COVID-19, and 45% said they felt less healthy mentally while working from home.
And feeling too much stress at once can take a toll on your health, causing damaging physical and mental side effects like:
- Rapid breathing/pounding heart
- A weakened immune system
- High blood sugar
- High blood pressure
- Tense muscles
Ways to De-Stress
The good news is that there are tools and coping mechanisms that exist to alleviate stress; and, if you live with chronic stress or any other underlying physical or mental health condition further impacted by stress, there are ways to lessen its effects.
- Accept your needs and recognize what your triggers are in order to avoid them as best you can.
- Prioritize your activities and tasks appropriately.
- Practice deep breathing, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation.
- Exercise regularly.
- Set aside time for yourself, whether it’s reading a book or taking a walk.
- Eat well.
- Get enough sleep.
- Talk to someone, whether it be a friend, family member, a therapist, etc.
- Consider Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT).
- Practice successive approximation, meaning breaking up larger tasks into smaller ones to make them easier to accomplish.
- Keep a gratitude journal.
- Reframe negative thoughts, or practice self-statements to counteract negative thoughts.
How the Ethos Team De-Stresses
It didn’t feel right to discuss this topic without our team offering up how we cope with stress, especially when it comes to turning “off” after work.
Alida Miranda-Wolff, Founder and CEO
“One of the main ways I de-stress after work is by bonding with the rabbits in our “bunny room” or in the living room with a foraging mat. Basically, it’s a felt mat where I can hide carrots, kale, and radishes, and I watch them solve the puzzle to get their treats! Our two cats also get really involved and play along. I stand by playtime with the animal family as my greatest act of mindfulness and self-care.
Additionally, even though I have a regular meditation practice, I rely on FLY LDN yoga’s digital platform to do yin yoga almost every day. I also read daily and take frequent baths.”
Lexi Brown, Senior Associate
“I love taking really long walks, and sometimes I end up being out of my apartment for two hours or more. I’m even thinking about purchasing rollerblades in the coming weeks to give myself another way to enjoy Chicago’s Lakefront Trail!
In the colder months, when I can’t be outside as much, music is my go-to relaxation technique, whether it be playing guitar or ukulele, singing, creating playlists, or simply just listening to my favorite songs/albums.
Meditation has also been super helpful during this time, even if it’s just for five minutes a day. I’ve been using the Simple Habit app for about three or four years now, and I can’t recommend it enough.”
Pondharshini Sadasivam, Associate—Training
“To de-stress, I like to: light a candle and read mystery books, walk in Golden Gate Park and find a tree to climb, take a book to Ocean Beach and read, do Sudoku, puzzles, or build legos, call my family in India and Singapore, and cook with my boyfriend.”
Walter Faro, Associate—Consulting
“My favorite ways to navigate stress all involve engaging in artistic and creative processes. This includes anything from baking a cake, making a playlist, writing creatively, redecorating, or putting together a really great outfit. For me, something about changing my material/sonic/visual space provides the conditions for me to remain grounded as I meditate and explore difficult emotions or thoughts. Although, if things are especially difficult, then I may end up just pampering myself in the most extravagant ways I can think of.”
Sonni Conway, Project Manager
“Some of my favorite ways to decompress are hanging out with my cat, working out, going on walks to look at foliage, and doing DIY projects around my house.
Each of these things brings me rest and relaxation in different ways; they allow me to express myself creatively, to let my mind wander, to push myself physically, and more.”
Amalia Loiseau, Intern
“A way I like to de-stress after a long day is to bake something fun! I love putting on a good playlist and trying recipes. Although some recipes can take a long time, I love seeing how they turn out, successful or not. It also is so much fun to taste new things with my family and friends after they’re made!”
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We hope you take this month (and beyond) to find out what you need to stay rested and mindful. And remember: it is completely natural and okay to set boundaries.
Photo by Tembo Tones