Who doesn’t love taking a day off work?
When I was in the corporate world over 20 years ago, I loved taking vacation days just to sit at home, chill out and relax. Fast forward to today…when you’re forced to be at home because of a pandemic, it’s another story, right?
- You can’t go shopping
- You can’t see your friends
- You can’t see your family
- You see all that crap on the news
- And then it starts to build…the stress from isolation
We are social creatures. We gather for our meals, we gather for entertainment and to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and losses in our lives. This is the normal…but we are not in a stage of normal right now.
You have video chat so you can check in on friends and family and many providers now are making it easier to make that happen.
But what if you are having a tough time dealing with this pandemic? Maybe you don’t want to trouble your friends and family because they have their own problems going on. The stress keeps building and I can promise you, if you don’t have a way to release this stress, it will eat you up alive.
Now I’m not here to make your stress worse…it’s the exact opposite. It doesn’t cost you anything and I can guarantee you have what you need right now to do the following exercise.
Grab your absolute favourite pen and a piece of paper that’s lined if possible – no excuses, you can write on yesterday’s newspaper if that’s all you have and please don’t do this exercise on your computer unless you have a physical disability that prevents you from writing.
Tip: if you have a notebook with lined pages, that’s even better, so you can keep everything in one place. PLEASE for the love of all things holy, do not get sidetracked by zipping over to Amazon to buy the perfect journal for this exercise.
Turn off all distractions…your notifications, your laptop, TV, radio and if you have other people in the house, go someplace quiet, but if you can’t, just tell them you’re doing an experiment and need quiet for 5 minutes.
Turn off social media… it will be there when you are done. Actually, just turn off your phone and computer. Problem solved in 60 seconds.
Hint: it’s much easier if you are in a room by yourself. The idea that people are in the room, might make you feel rushed or like you’re being watched.
At the top of the page, write: I’m grateful for…
Now take three deep breaths, close your eyes and say quietly out loud: I’m grateful for…
Wait a few seconds, let some thoughts come into your mind and start to write them down.
Sidenote: If you’re having some trouble getting started, here is a simple set of prompts to help you based on an objection:
Objection: I have nothing to be grateful for, I’m stuck at home. I can’t see my friends or family.
• I’m grateful that I’m at home, so I can keep my friends, family and myself healthy
• I’m grateful to have an internet connection so I can video chat my friends and family
• I’m grateful to have “provider” be giving video chat services for free
• I’m grateful to be saving money not having to drive to work
• I’m grateful to be helping the environment by staying at home
• I’m grateful to have some time to explore the idea of working from home
• I’m grateful to have had the extra time to clean up the hallway closet
• I’m grateful to have a full box from the hallway cleanup to donate to charity
• I’m grateful to have some extra time to learn a new hobby
• I’m grateful to have YouTube to learn a new hobby for free
• I’m grateful to have access to online ordering and free shipping for any supplies I need
See where I’m going here?
Just typing this list out for you, leaves me feeling like I’m going to burst, reaching out to hug you.
Now repeat the exercise above.
If you want to write past 5 minutes, please go ahead. I’ll be here when you’re done.
How does writing help you relieve stress?
It’s been scientifically proven! and since this isn’t a medical journal, you can go to the footnotes for articles written on this subject.*
You’ll likely feel different doing this exercise again tomorrow when you’re not having to follow these instructions. But how to do you feel right now?
Hint: you can write about how you feel right now… get it all out on paper.
There is no quick fix for relieving stress, there are many tools out there, such as yoga, meditation and therapy in addition to writing to relieve stress.
Repetition is how you will honestly figure out if writing works for you.
*Online Positive Affect Journaling in the Improvement of Mental Distress and Well-Being in General Medical Patients With Elevated Anxiety Symptoms: A Preliminary Randomized Controlled Trial