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Stress management for uncertain times

Fit to Farm: During these pandemic times many have experienced stress-related symptoms

Our “usual” has been rudely interrupted, our connections kept at a distance and change forced upon many of us.

Big or small, we’ve all made sacrifices for the collective goal over the past months, and safe to say, experienced some level of stress-related symptom in our physical and emotional bodies.

Common signs of stress, uncertainty, and overwhelm manifesting in the body include:

  • Headaches,
  • Fatigue,
  • Malaise,
  • Muscular tension,
  • Stiff joints,
  • Restlessness,
  • Anxiety/depression,
  • Transient moods,
  • Bickering,
  • Exacerbation of existing symptoms (digestive irritation, arthritis flares, chronic pain, etc.).

Our “usual” has been rudely interrupted, our connections kept at a distance and change forced upon many of us.

For some, this has meant a chance to develop new, more manageable relationships around work-life balance and self-care. For others, their plates only became heavier.

Regardless of where you’re at there’s a few key messages I’ve been getting in regards to how to manage this unpredictable and uncertain time, especially if you fall into the category of stress-like symptoms manifesting and decreasing your quality of life.

You get to choose your new normal

I don’t mean this in the sense of disregarding collective public health guidelines, but more in the sense of the pressures of societal “normals” have been lifted. Within your own bubble you now get to set new normals that work for you. You may not get to act on every intention for that new normal immediately, but you’re likely already starting to notice what you miss, what you don’t and what you’d like to bring back when possible.

Can we choose to see the opportunity amidst the uncertainty?

Perhaps now we can begin to notice the stress building in our bodies and take opportunities to connect with that. Maybe the loss of the usual work-related grind has opened the door to a more balanced perspective. Is it possible that the way we were doing things “before” was actually unsustainable? Is this a chance to refresh and recoup on our way to new ways of being? No matter how negative, tricky, disappointing or aggravating a situation may be — there is always a silver lining or an opportunity to be found.

You shouldn’t bypass the grief that comes along with change (feel that loss, let yourself be angry, depressed, anxious, stressed, sad) but in those symptoms of grief allow the transformation to continue to the opportunity.

Breathe, just breathe

Seriously. Take a break from all that the current reality holds, lay down, close your eyes, and just breathe for a few minutes.

Let what you want to do shine through

Maybe that’s a cup of tea in the evening or in the morning before the day begins, or a moment outdoors for a walk or a glance at the sky. Many of us know what serves us or what would feel good, but those things get shifted down the priority list in favour of the usual hustle and bustle. Perhaps now, as the normal hustle and bustle has shifted, is your opportunity to take those moments big or small.

Stress-like symptoms are tricky, because like anger and frustration, they are often telling of places in our life where we’ve had to sacrifice ourselves for another purpose. Let these symptoms be a reminder now of what you truly want, and allow yourself the grace to honour that in small daily moments.

About the author


Kathlyn Hossack runs a clinical practice, Integrative Movement in Winnipeg, Manitoba and consults clients throughout Alberta on a regular basis. For questions or consultations email her at [email protected].

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