1. Build Structure. Lack of daily structure can be a set up for worry, anxiety and negative emotions. Create a schedule for your work days including the start and end of the workday, with set times for meals and planned breaks. Having a regular routine will help you to maintain a positive mindset, increase productivity and manage anxiety.
2. Limit your time on social media and the news. Don’t make your phone the first thing you see in the morning and the last thing you check at night before sleep. Mindlessly scrolling and reading about the same news stories again and again kicks up negative emotions and provides little new information.
3. Get sleep. A sufficient amount of good quality sleep is vital to maintaining a healthy mind and body. Regulate your sleep cycle by getting up at the same time every day regardless of when you fall asleep. Practice relaxation exercises before bedtime—try a guided body scan or progressive muscle relaxation.
4. Exercise. Physical exercise is a proven mood booster and effective stress management tool. If you’re unable to get outside for a walk, run, or bike ride, check out online yoga or fitness classes.
5. Gratitude. Even in a the most challenging situations, there are people in our lives and things to be grateful for. Set aside time every day to bring your awareness to them, ideally writing them down.
6. Mindfulness practice. Daily mindfulness practice can create a haven or break from stress. Meditation is great, but so are brief present awareness exercises. Practice anchoring your undivided and non-judgmental awareness in the breath, an activity (e.g., eating, drinking coffee) or one of your senses, e.g., what sounds do you hear, what do you see in this moment. Gradually increase the length of your practice.
7. Connect. Working at home can be isolating and challenge our sense of connection with others. Take at least an hour every day to connect with your friends, neighbors, colleagues, and loved ones through texting and messaging, and phone. Start or join weekly groups on Google hangout or Zoom.
8. Set work goals. Write out goals for the work day and for longer-term projects with a to-do or task list. Keep track of the progress you’re making and what you’ve accomplished, ideally in writing.
9. Set personal goals. Without time spent commuting, there may be more time to work on projects, engage in activities or pursue interests you’ve put off. Maybe it’s cooking, mastering a new technology, catching up on reading, or perfecting your handstand.
10.Breathe. How we breathe affects how we feel. When we’re stressed, we breathe shallowly and rapidly from the chest. When we’re relaxed, we breathe from the abdomen. Once or twice a day practice diaphragmatic breathing to decrease stress and boost your immunity. Sitting or lying down, place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Breathe in through your nose slowly for 2 counts so that the abdomen expands, and exhale slowly through your mouth for 2 counts so that the abdomen flattens. Repeat for 8 to 10 breaths.
Dr. Lisa Napolitano is an expert in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and other mindfulness-based treatments. A licensed psychologist in New York and Florida, she is the Founder and Director of CBT/DBT Associates, a boutique psychology practice group. Dr. Napolitano is an expert in the treatment of stress, anxiety, worry, and emotion regulation problems. She has specifically designed her treatment approach for executives, attorneys, and other high-functioning individuals whom she believes shouldn’t have to sacrifice their careers to manage their stress and work on developing their potential.