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Coping With Stress During COVID-19: Self-Care Tips #1

March 26, 2020, Jessica Dolce

Written by Jessica Dolce for The Association

Last week, hundreds of animal welfare professionals tuned in as Jessica Dolce, MS, CCFE, creator of the Compassion in Balance Program, held a Community Call for Coping With Stress During COVID-19. You can watch the recording anytime, and Jessica has also written the following self-care tips for us to share here. Thanks to Jessica, you could be less stressed in less than 5 minutes—guaranteed!

COVID-19 has brought a massive amount of change and uncertainty into our lives. Lack of control and uncertainty can trigger fear, which activates our stress response of fight/flight/freeze. This can impact our well-being and our ability to do our work effectively. 

Feeling stressed right now is normal! But being stuck in stress does take a toll on our immune system, emotions, and relationships. 

Simple self-regulation practices are one way we can reduce stress. Self-regulation activates our parasympathetic nervous system, which triggers the rest-and-restore response. This helps us to feel safer, less reactive, and more in control. 

Here are a few ways to practice self-regulation: 

  • Focused breathing, such as box breathing 
  • Grounding in the present moment through your senses (orient yourself to the environment: what can you see, hear, smell, feel, and taste right now?) 
  • Shake the stress out of your body (think happy dog!) 
  • Go for a brisk walk 
  • Watch a funny video and laugh out loud 
  • Dance, sing, or hum 
  • Cuddle your pets or hug a loved one (for at least 20 seconds) 
  • Place your hands on your chest, over your heart, and say “I am safe”

Another option is to do something small that’s within your control. Clean a junk drawer, weed your garden, or brush your dog. Give yourself a quick win with a tangible outcome. 

These practices may seem too simple to make an impact, but the research is clear.  Our nervous system plays a critical role in our resilience. Through simple self-regulation practices, we can tend to our nervous system and reduce our stress. 

Try these short exercises multiple times throughout the day and they’ll add up, helping you to feel calmer, think more clearly, and communicate effectively during this challenging time. 

RECORDING: Coping With Stress During COVID-19

What ways are you practicing self-regulating? Leave a comment and let us know!

About Jessica Dolce
Jessica Dolce, MS, is a Certified Compassion Fatigue Educator who has made it her mission to create practical tools to help animal care and welfare folks reduce stress and increase resilience.

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