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Back to School/Work During a Pandemic: How to Keep Your Cool and Stay Calm

Back to School/Work During a Pandemic: How to Keep Your Cool and Stay Calm

By Lily Dulberg, Contributing blogger

We’re all adjusting to a “new normal” and if you have kids, they may be going back to school soon. Even if it’s virtual, you might find yourself going back into the office soon, or perhaps adjusting to the work-from-home lifestyle more permanently. As we enter into a season of renewal and fresh starts, we need to be equipped with tools to help us manage the stress and anxiety of not only starting new things but doing so amidst a pandemic. These four actionable techniques will help you manage during these unprecedented transitions.


1. Note your gratitude.

What are you thankful for? Do you bring that thankfulness into your consciousness every day? It may sound simple, but writing down things you are grateful for can help you process positive emotions more frequently and in turn, develop a more healthy outlook on your life, even in the face of adversity. Research shows that practicing gratitude can actually make you happier. Maybe you’re grateful for that first sip of coffee in the morning, or for your morning outdoor workout crew. With lots of folks staying home, the mindfulness industry has seen an uptick in online mindfulness resources and groups. We recommend conducting a web search for “gratitude practices” to see what might work for you! 

2. Practice paced breathing.

Uncertainty breeds anxiety, but it also opens up a whole new realm of possibility. This simple flip in perspective can help you cope when things feel overwhelming. Paced breathing is a technique that involves exhaling for longer than you inhale to activate your relaxation response. You can think of this type of breath as a way to mimic the relaxing state you fall into while in a deep sleep, as the exhales are longer than the inhales when you are sleeping. Try inhaling for 2-4 breaths, and exhaling for 6-8 breaths to start. You can play with different lengths of time to find what works best for you.

3. Try habit-stacking.

Having trouble incorporating new habits into your life? For many folks, work and home are now blending together in a way that blurs boundaries and makes building habits challenging. Habit stacking is one way to incorporate healthy practices into your life by pairing them with other positive habits that you already engage in. Want to get some exercise in before work? Try setting a goal to do 10 squats before you brush your teeth. This helps Read more on habit stacking to determine how to incorporate it into your quaranroutine.

4. Plan out the little things to help ward off uncertainty.

Sometimes it’s just the little things, right? Instead of focusing on what’s out of your control, focus  your attention to what you can control and plan for. Make plans for this week: a trip to the park to see a friend, a morning workout two days per week, and connecting with old friends while you have the time to do so. Develop a morning practice or routine that you can consistently stick to, so that you can celebrate your small wins!

Despite the major changes our world has seen in the past 6 months, we can still maintain some sense of normalcy as we integrate back into the workplace or school. Try out these techniques to manage anxiety, control stress levels, and reset your nervous system during changes and new beginnings. What’s your go-to strategy to help you get back to the grind?