March 2020 caught us by surprise. 

By now many of you saw our weekly posts for Womxn of Emerson, as we celebrated the excellence and accomplishments of womxn alumnae for 2020. We also have been offering advice and resources online.

In the spirit of continued career support, we’re taking things a step further and thinking about the self-care needed to move forward in life and career. Patricia Peyton, who we profiled on March 24th, has some great tips on (drum roll) Stress Management!

In light of Covid-19, a lot has upended our daily work lives, and for anyone looking for an internship or job, this has caused, you guessed it, anxiety. The plus: any Emersonian knows what it means to be innovative and resilient. It doesn’t happen overnight though and you’re allowed to stumble and fumble. 

Below are some of Pat’s wonderful tips for managing stress related to the pandemic. They encourage you to move, breathe, and get through this time of uncertainty with some healthy tools.

Tip #1: Breathe

The best thing to do immediately upon feeling stressed is to practice Paced Breathing. At least ten minutes of daily paced breathing helps keep cortisol levels under control. Breathe diaphragmatically, in through the nose, out through the mouth with a steady count in and steady count out. 

Tip #2: Shake It Off

“Borrow a line from Taylor Swift and “Shake It Off.” Bend at the waist (slight bend in the knees). If possible, get your head below your waist. Shake your shoulders and arms vigorously, punch the air, etc.”

Tip #3: Meditate

Limited human contact can quickly decrease our oxytocin levels, leaving us feeling isolated and even more stressed. Pick a meditation app (Calm, Headspace, Ten Percent Happier, etc.) to jumpstart your meditation practice and repeat after me, “Ommmm…” 

Tip #4: Maintain a Positive Mindset

The best time to build resilience is before we need it but we can still build resilience while in the midst of challenge.  Simple things like physical fitness, good food, hydration, massage, sunshine, meditation, and effectively processing negative events so that we can regain optimism all help us maintain a positive mindset and build resilience.  While stuck at home, don’t wallow – eat healthfully, stay active, if you have outdoor space, spend time in the sunshine – and maintain a positive mindset through meditation and social contact. 

Tip #5: Stay Connected

While we need to practice “physical distancing,” we should not practice “social distancing.”  Science and sociology research indicate that humans require a strong sense of belonging, a sense of community upon which we rely and from which we draw support.  

Also, communicate more openly, use more appreciative words, build trust by being even more considerate of each other than usual, and leverage the tools available to us to maintain social contact, without physical contact.  We can learn from the Italians – who are leaving lit candles in their windows to recognize the heroic efforts of their medical professionals, scheduling times of day to come out onto their balconies and appear in their open windows to applaud those medical professionals, to sing together, collectively lifting spirits – all wonderful examples of social connection despite physical distancing.

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