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Hello. My name is Bryan Prinzivalli and I’m a dual Licensed Clinician at Thriveworks in Lynchburg. I’m going to answer the question, “How can you deal with stress at work during COVID-19?”

No one is immune to stress from healthcare to sanitation employees and government to grocery store workers, we all have some level of stress with this exposure happening now, but it doesn’t discriminate based on our job title. So the most important phrase to remember during this time is self-care. I hear many times from people under normal circumstances, “I just can’t take a break.” Maybe they feel the pressure to stay productive or to stay on task at work, but really, we can’t afford not to take a break.

So there’ve been many studies to show us the importance of a good work life balance and that doesn’t lessen during a pandemic—it’s even more crucial. The short answer of how to deal with stress at work during COVID-19 is to embrace rest at home. I know there are still house chores that need to be done and particularly if members of your family are home more due to the virus, but this is not a time to be white glove clean, but rather tidy and organized.

One of the things that is linked to stress is a cluttered space. So at work and at home, make sure that you have a good organization of your items. During an event like this, it can be difficult to focus on our jobs. So one of the most beneficial things we can do for ourselves while at work is to practice mindfulness. In short, mindfulness is a practice of being in the present moment. So one of the ways that we can be in the present moment is to focus on our breath. Our breath going in, our breath going out. Our chest rising and falling. Taking observation of these things can help us to center our thoughts.

If you work in an office setting, you can see if your coworker would like to have distance lunch with you. You could bring your lunch or you could support a local eatery that’s staying open during this time for curiosity delivery and then sit outside at least six feet apart while you enjoy your lunch. Another outlet could be to go for a walk on a break and get some fresh air.

There also have been several studies that link vitamin D from the sun to elevated mood and having fresh air we know seems to help us take a fuller breath, which also reduces blood pressure and lowers our heart rate. Good nutrition is also a key to keeping a positive state of mind. When our body is operating well and not sluggish, we tend to take that higher energy level and feel more productive, which in turn lowers our stress at work.

Also, taking a break from watching every press conference and news media outlet based on what’s going on with everything in the world today, we can take a break from that and consume our news and media in a reasonable way and in brief snippets—this can help to reduce our stress. If you’re still feeling stressed, please reach out to a counselor. You can do so through video conferencing right now and some of us are still meeting in person as well, but remember, stay safe and thank you for watching.

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