I received some very practical recommendations from an article entitled “How to Soothe Your Soul.” It gives practical suggestions about how to manage symptoms caused by the chronic stress related to COVID-19 and other current crises in the world at this time (I INCLUDE SUGGESTIONS FOR OUR CATHOLIC FAITH):
EAT A HEALTHY DIET: Chronic stress elevates the levels of stress hormone Cortisol, which can increase hunger and prompt people to snack or over-eat sweet and fatty foods which can temporarily stimulate the brain’s reward centers and decrease anxiety. Eat a balanced and healthy diet. MAKE SURE YOU EAT THE EUCHARIST AS MUCH AS YOU CAN AS THE HEALTHIEST FOOD.
GET ENOUGH SLEEP: Keep the bedroom cool and dark and avoid screen time and stimulants (caffeine) before bedtime. NITE PRAYERS HELP RELAX US AS WELL.
EXERCISE REGULARLY: Exercise releases feel-good endorphins that can boost mood and energy and facilitate sleep at the end of the day. DON’T FORGET TO KEEP UP YOUR SPIRITUAL EXERCISES AS WELL.
KEEP UP KEY CONNECTIONS: It is essential to stay in touch with friends, family members, and groups in which one experiences connection, support, love and care. REMEMBER YOU ALWAYS HAVE A SPIRITUAL FAMILY: THE CHURCH.
BE IN THE MOMENT: Certain practices such as mindfulness and meditation can help people stay focused on the present and reduce stress. Create a daily schedule of achievable actions; DON’T FORGET TO HAVE REGULAR PRAYER TIME
PLAN FOR A POSITIVE FUTURE: Engage in behaviors that will benefit the future: making home repairs, decluttering one’s environment, donating unused clothes, cleaning out closets, talking an on-line course, learning a language. REMEMBER GOD’S PLAN FOR OUR FUTURE: “I HAVE A FUTURE FOR YOU FILLED WITH HOPE, AND NOT WOE!” (Jeremiah 29-30)
NUZZLE UP TO NATURE: Spend time outdoors: nurture a garden, walk on a nature trail, do bird-watching, and even just looking at a natural setting can reduce stress hormones and lower anxiety. USE NATURE AS A VEHICLE TO PRAISE GOD!
DO GOOD TO FEEL GOOD: Research shows that helping others (sewing masks, shopping for an at-risk neighbor, donating to important causes, volunteering) can reduce stress and enhance well-being. PRAY FOR SOMEONE WHO NEEDS IT.
BREATHE DEEPLY: Engaging in deep and slow breathing can improve attention and mood, relieve anxiety, and enhance relaxation. HOLY SPIRIT IS BREATH!
KNOW WHEN TO GET HELP: Engage resources such as talking with pastor, counseling, support groups, etc. can be beneficial. WE ALL NEED ONE ANOTHER! ~ Fr. John