If there is one constant in life, it is that stress happens. It was here before COVID-19, it may have heightened throughout the year of the pandemic, but we are sure that it will remain in some form or another once things return to normal – or to whatever normal will become. The best thing that we can do is to be mindful of the stress in our lives, if it is good, or bad and look for effective ways to relieve it and make ourselves feel a sense of calm or relaxation that we may be in dire need of.
The question is, what are the best ways to reduce or relieve stress? Each person is unique and experiences stress differently. While the stress of deadlines may motivate some, it could cause another person to shut-down, become cranky, or revert to typical escapist habits. This is due to the body’s fight or flight response.
To find an effective solution to stress management in your life, you may need to try a variety of different techniques or combinations of a select few. Here are some simple activities that you can have at-the-ready for stress relief, even if you can’t get outside.
Increase Your Heart Rate with Exercise
If you feel your stress creeping up on you, physical exercise could be your answer. It doesn’t matter if it is guided yoga, a short burst of cardio, an impromptu stretch combined with jumping jacks, pushups, or situps right in your living room or dancing it out like no one is watching. The burst of energy that you use will increase your heart rate and activate dopamine and serotonin that naturally help to enhance your mood and lessen the anxiety and stress you may be feeling.
Problem Solving as a Distraction
If you find your mind is looping or experiencing intrusive thoughts, offer yourself a distraction. There are so many things to do indoors that are productive, and help to refocus your mind on something else to ease mental stress. Take to home organization tasks, rearranging closets, shoe storage, junk drawers, or kitchen cupboards. If home-organization is not your strong suit, or if it is something that is already at its best in your home, try working through word or number puzzles like crosswords, word-searches, or sudoku games. Giving your brain an alternative task to focus on will allow you to feel calmer and more capable of dealing with whatever is the root cause of your stress.
Meditation can be a highly effective means of stress relief. People are often intimidated by the practice of meditation, but it is actually a super simple and extremely successful way to calm your mind and body and reduce any stress you may be experiencing. There are many apps to download, such as Headspace, that provide users with various levels of experience various guided meditation techniques to calm the storm that stress may bring. Slowing your breathing can have calming effects, and belly breathing can improve attention, mood, and cortisol levels within the body.
Create Your At-Home Spa
If life has been challenging and you’re really feeling overwhelmed or stressed, try planning a little at-home spa experience for yourself. Run a bath and add some aromatherapy bubble bath, light fragrant candles, and play some relaxing music. Changing the body’s temperature can induce a sensory slow-down, essentially allowing you to re-boot yourself and feel more equipped to handle life’s daily challenges.
While all of these are great ways to help you control and reduce the stress you feel on a daily basis, it is important to be able to recognize when you need more help. There are many counselors and social workers that specialize in helping people work through their anxiety and any issues they may be facing. If you need more help, speak to your family doctor about any other ways that you can help yourself take back control and keep the stress of life at a more manageable level.