The news has been particularly distressing. The new coronavirus (COVID-19) makes us fearful of being in public while the volatile stock market threatens retirement savings. Tolerance for perceived threats varies by person, says psychologist Marc Schoen, PhD, author of Your Survival Instinct is Killing You, which is why one person stocks up on canned foods and another just washes hands more often…or why some investors are selling stocks while others see drops as a buying opportunity.
If you’re feeling more stress and anxiety, try Dr. Schoen’s tricks to dial back your body’s response—and to bolster your mood and immunity.
• Write down your worries. Writing down and putting a label on your fears helps lower stress and the brain’s fear reaction by taking them out of your head, making them feel more concrete and manageable.
• Chill out before bedtime withgentle stretching, warm baths or meditation. This helps keep stress and fear biochemicals from being part of your sleep cycle, which impair sleep quality. Poor sleep boosts inflammation and lowers immunity.
• Exercise in moderation. Even short bursts, such as a fast-paced walk or five minutes going up and down stairs, helps reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol while boosting immunity.
• Stay connected. Feeling scared can lead to feeling alone or alienated. Spend quality time with loved ones, sharing your fears, can increase your body’s levels of the feel-good hormone, oxytocin.
I’m also limiting my news exposure. The more I watch and read, the higher my stress levels.