Calm anxiety and destress with these 8 techniques.
Like many people, perhaps you’ve been bouncing between health warnings and pep talks. One minute you’re sure this will all blow over, and the next, it seems like there’s no end in sight. So much uncertainty is definitely stressful. And, we’re all feeling it, no doubt.
At this point, you’ve planned for the survival basics, like shelter and food. Maybe you’ve got your home exercise routine on lockdown and are even working from home, too. But, mentally preparing for uncertainty and coping with all that we must do to get through this, is just as vital. Maybe even more so.
Times like these call for going easy on others—and on ourselves. And that all boils down to solid self-care practices.
1. Let go of perfection
Whether this applies to your diet, exercise, or personal goals, it’s imperative that you let go of perfection. Our normal routines might have allowed us the freedom of frequent market or gym trips. That is not so anymore, and it’s ok. Things will not be this restrictive forever, so hold onto that. Getting through this with your wits intact supersedes any need to count carbs or reps.
Easing up on restrictive practices doesn’t have to mean foregoing them completely. If you were following a keto lifestyle, for instance, low-carb might be good enough for now. Follow the guidance that new moms sometimes get and just try to stick with “fed is best.”
2. Practice meditation
There is so much good associated with meditation. It reduces stress, clears your mind, and boosts your immune system. Following a session, you will immediately feel more grounded, rested, and focused. It’s important to remember that no two meditation sessions are alike, however. Sometimes your mind might race, and that’s ok.
If you’re new to it, follow these simple steps:
- Chose a quiet place, free from distractions (and put your phone away).
- Sit in a position most comfortable to you, with eyes softly closed.
- Imagine that your heart has a beam of light drawing you inwards, feeding you energy.
- Aim for 10 minutes to start, with the option to continue if desired.
- Begin first thing in the morning when you rise, and fit in another session just before bed.
3. Tea time
Tea is more than a hot drink, it’s a chance to perform a ritual. Heating the kettle, steeping the water, and preparing to drink it all contribute to this. Many herbal teas with relaxation ingredients are available and now is the time to experiment!
Highly aromatic teas engage more than one sense, keeping you in the moment. Peppermint tea contains menthol, known to be a natural muscle relaxer. This easing of tension will help you fall asleep in a more calm state. Finally, chamomile tea has long been enjoyed as a bedtime drink and is known to help with sleeplessness.
Once you start with a tea habit, it can be hard to stop—you’ll see!
While everyone’s going on about the latest Netflix special, try tuning out and reading instead. Reading is a relaxing and passive activity, yet it engages the mind more than staring at a screen. In 2009, researchers in England found that stress can be reduced by 68% by reading (1).
For those that were having problems sleeping before self-distancing became a thing, reading is definitely preferable over TV-watching before bed. People that read enjoy lowered vital signs, including blood pressure and heart rate.
5. Go to the (virtual) movies
Movies can help us to engage emotionally. Comedies and heart-warming dramas allow us to tap into feelings that we might otherwise be repressing. Having a belly laugh or a good cry over fictional situations can gift us the emotional release we may not even be aware of that we needed.
Take it a step further and make some popcorn, or if you have kids, create tickets and a concession stand! Movies are all about the experience and who says you can’t have that at home, too.
6. Soak the day away
Baths are another full-body way of engaging the senses. Play around with adding bath salts, bath bombs, or essential oils to your bath for their various effects.
Adding Epsom salts to your bathwater is a tried and true method for relaxation. Epsom salt is actually magnesium sulfate and when you dip your body in it, it relaxes your muscles. You also might notice a feeling of levity in an Epsom salt bath. That’s because the salts actually increase the bath water’s specific gravity, making you more floaty.
Try this Epsom salt recipe for a luxurious and relaxing experience:
- 2 cups baking soda
- 2 cups Epsom salt
- several drops of essential oil-your pick
- lavender relaxes, peppermint is a pick-me-up and eucalyptus for an immune-boost
- Soak for 20 minutes
7. Do some yoga
Yoga is all about staying in the moment by following your breathing. No matter how hard the poses and the practice goes, it always come back to this. It’s really a good life lesson, when you think about it.
Difficulties will come and go, but if you remember to breathe through them, they will pass. And you will still be moving forward.
Joining your mind, body, and soul is the essence of yoga. It lowers anxiety and stress, yet builds strength. Your practice needn’t be overly complicated; rather, move at the pace that each day allows. Look online for an abundance of free classes!
8. Be a helper
If nothing else, people are now realizing just how much of an impact we truly have on one another right now. Use that power for good. Even though we are all striving to be alone, we are alone together. Feel that connection and let it serve as your guide.
One thing that is quickly becoming obvious is how differently the coronavirus pandemic is affecting people. Savings are being depleted and hospital workers are overwhelmed. Grocery store employees are quickly becoming frontline heroes. If you find yourself in a position to help—do!
That can mean donating monetarily to food banks or continuing to support small restaurants with taking out. That can look like sewing masks and gowns for hospital workers. It can even be smiling at strangers (from 6+ feet away, of course)!
How you prepare, withstand, and come through this time will define an important part of your life for you. When this ends (and it WILL end!) do you want to look back and remember days filled with fear and isolation? Or would you rather use this time as a springboard to realize what (or who) really matters?
We all have a chance now to be the bigger person, to act collectively for the greater good. I hope you take it.
- “Reading for Stress Relief.” Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing, www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/reading-stress-relief.