We are living in unprecedented times. Almost everyone is currently stuck at home, rarely leaving the house. Many are working full time from home, while also having to juggle the responsibility of a child's education. Even worse, unemployment is rising, and many are not even sure if they will have a job for much longer. And this doesn't even take into account trying to keep ourselves and our family safe. It's no wonder people around the world are suffering from elevated stress levels. This is a tough period for everyone, but here are some tips to help make this quarantine a little less stressful.
We all know that exercise is extremely important for our overall health, but it's also a great way to decrease stress. When we exercise, our bodies produce endorphins, commonly known as the "feel good hormone." These endorphins can not only put you in a better mood, but can also decrease stress levels. Regular exercise has been linked to increased self confidence, better relaxation and improved sleep. It has also even been linked to a reduction in mild depression and anxiety. I don't know anyone who isn't suffering from some level of depression or anxiety these days.
With gyms currently closed, many people are finding it hard to exercise, however this is a hurdle that you can still overcome. There are plenty of forms of exercise that you can do without ever leaving the house. Try a Google or YouTube search for "at home workouts." You'll find an almost limitless number of exercises and workout programs. You might even find something you like that you didn't even know you liked. You can also go for walks around the neighborhood or in a nearby park. You don't have to do be doing strenuous exercise to decrease stress. And the fresh air will do you some good as well!
Meditation has been used for years as a way to relax and decrease stress. Meditation comes in many forms, but usually consists of four elements.
- A quiet location, with as few distractions as possible
- A comfortable posture, usually sitting or lying down.
- A focus on attention
- An open attitude
I usually prefer to lie on my back in a dark room, then try to focus on my breathing and clear my mind. I tend to spend about 10 minutes meditating, and have noticed that it helps me relax and become more focused. There are a number of meditation training videos online that can walk you through the process if you are new to meditation. I have used Headspace in the past, and they offer a free trial to get you started.
Studies have shown that meditation can also help with a number of health conditions including anxiety, depression, high blood pressure and irritable bowel syndrome.
Stay in Communication
Being isolated and away from friends and family can be very stressful, even for those with introverted personalities. As humans, we need to stay in social contact with others, it is part of who we are. Thanks to modern technology, there are ways that, even in quarantine, we can still see and stay in contact with those important to us. Use Zoom to host a party or game night with a group of friends. FaceTime family members that you usually see on a regular basis to try to keep some form of normalcy.
At this time, it's easy to fall into the trap of constantly checking the news or social media for updates. While staying up to date is important, we probably don't need to be checking for new updates every 30 minutes. This only helps add to our stress. Use this time to call a friend or family member.
I hope you find these tips helpful during these trying times. If you have any other great stress relieving tips, feel free to leave them in the comments below.