On top of our normal life stressors we are now faced with the stress from an unprecedented pandemic. There is undoubtedly a collective social grief and stress that is palpable. It’s normal and okay to feel overwhelmed and stressed right now, but it doesn’t mean that there is nothing you can do to help. We’ve put together 4 simple approaches to combating any type of stress you might be feeling at this time…
1. Move your body
What’s the first step to getting out of your head? Stepping into your body! Exercise has long been hailed for its positive health effects, and right now it’s especially beneficial given it’s stress-relieving effects. Regular physical activity has been associated with stress resilience in healthy individuals1 and has been found to alleviate symptoms related to social withdrawal2. If you’re daunted with the thought of becoming an exercise buff or gym rat, don’t worry! Movement is as fluid in nature as it is in definition; there are hundreds of ways to move your body and have it count as exercise!
- Go for a Walk: Step outside and get some fresh air! Just getting out of the house is a great way to relieve some tension. Take a solo walk and listen to a podcast or your favorite tunes, or buddy up with someone you’re currently living with. To honor social distancing while out on your walk be sure to choose less frequented paths/routes and cordially let others pass to ensure a safe distance.
- Virtual Exercise: If you prefer a more guided and intensive workout such as HIIT, bootcamps, core classes, kickboxing, etc. these types of classes are being offered virtually. Reach out to personal trainers at your gym and see if they’re adapted their classes to a virtual platform. Not part of a gym? No problem. Orangetheory, Barry’s, Daily Burn, Fhitting Room, and Rumble are all offering uploads of free workouts on either their website/instagram accounts or free trials to their programs.
- Yoga on Youtube: Looking for something more gentle? There are hundreds of free yoga classes on youtube ranging from vinyasa flows to restorative. Whatever type of yoga or whatever duration of class you need, it’ll be offered there!
- Push Up/ Squat Challenge: Get playful and create a push up or squat challenge amongst friends or family. Simply create a group chat through text, messenger, whatsapp, or any other platform and upload video “evidence” of your daily pushups or squats to the group. You can choose the number required per day amongst yourselves because you make the rules!
- Virtual Dance Party: Bored on a Friday night and have already burned through every possible thing to watch on Netflix? Have a virtual dance party with friends and family! Simply invite friends and family to a zoom meeting, create a playlist, and dance out all of your stress together!
- Virtual Dance Classes: Whether you are classically trained or have always wanted to try some form of ballet, modern, or jazz dance now if your chance! Some of the world’s best dancers are offering daily dance classes online. Follow the account Dancing Alone Together to see all that is being offered!
- Bike Riding: As spring approaches and the weather gets warmer pull out your bicycle and hit your local bike trail! Bike riding can be leisurely or cardio-intensive depending on the pace you set.
- Set an Alarm: Too busy to dedicate even 20 minutes to some movement? No problem! Simply set an alarm for every 2 hours and pause your work to move your body for 2-5 minutes. Put on a song and dance, gently stretch your body, or do some pushups. There is no wrong way to move your body!
2. Nourish Your Body
A nutritious well balanced diet is another exceptionally powerful tool for combating stress. Certain nutrients play an important role in reducing the levels of stress hormones in the body and also can enhance the production of feel-good neurotransmitters.
- Complex Carbohydrates: whole grains, vegetables, and fruits will increase levels of serotonin. Cozy up to a bowl of oatmeal or vegetable soup and feel it’s soothing effects.
- Magnesium Rich Foods: Magnesium is a muscle relaxant and a nervous system relaxant and cell levels are often depleted with physical and psychological stress. Food sources of magnesium include: almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, avocados, and tofu.
- Omega-3 Rich Foods: DHA is a specific type of omega-3 fatty acid that is a key component of the membrane of brain cells, and the conversion to DHA is compromised by stress. Eating omega-3 rich foods like salmon, flaxseeds, chia, hemp, and walnuts will support stress-reducing chemical responses in the brain.
- Vitamin C Rich Foods: Antioxidants like vitamin C have a therapeutic role by quickening the recovery from damage caused by oxidative stress. Think beyond oranges and make sure to get plenty of vitamin c from foods like bell peppers, broccoli, kiwi, strawberries, and papaya.
- B-Vitamin Rich Foods: B vitamins are key in the development and maintenance of the nervous system. B5 is a particularly helpful B vitamin that may improve coping mechanisms, but all B vitamins are essential for a healthy stress response! Nutritional yeast, beans, meat, eggs, dark leafy greens, and nuts are excellent sources of B-vitamins.
3. Create a Routine
Our daily routines have been completely overturned and it’s perfectly normal to feel stress from losing a sense of normalcy. A way to overcome the stress from unknowns and changes in your routine is to create a new and inspired routine!
- “Commute” to Work: If you are now working from home don’t skip your commute to work. Create the routine of “commuting” to work by walking around your block for 10-15 minutes before you begin your work day. This helps get you in the right mindset to tackle the work day.
- Separate Work from Play: Those working from home are now in the new territory of separating work life from home life. Be sure to create a work schedule that has a defined time frame. Over-working or never “leaving” work for the day may exacerbate stress. It’s key to have downtime at some point in the day!
- Utilize Productivity Apps: ToDoist is a free productivity app that helps you to organize your to-do lists and keep you on track with your goals!
- Schedule Check Ins: Staying connected to friends and loved ones should be included when creating a routine! Schedule skype or zoom lunch dates or dinner dates with friends, or simply call up a loved one when taking an afternoon walk. Having routine communication with loved ones is one of the most powerful anti-stress remedies out there!
- Sleep Hygiene: Any change in daily routine is likely to affect a sleep routine. Aim to be getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night to ensure your body is well rested and equipped to handle stress.
- Take Breaks: Set a timer on your phone to go off every hour or so and give your mind and eyes a few minutes of rest! Try not to look at any type of screen during this time. Getting up and stretching, listening to a song, or taking a few deep breaths is all that is needed for a quick rest and reset.
- Morning or Evening Meditation: There is an abundance of research demonstrating the health benefits and stress reduction associated with mediation. Whether it’s 5 minutes or 20 minutes, try incorporating a morning or evening meditation into your daily routine.
4. Create a Comfortable and Peaceful Space
It is no secret that our environment greatly influences our mood. Use this time to create an environment that soothes you and brings a sense of calm.
- Spark Joy!: Utilize techniques from Marie Kondo to infuse your space with both tidiness and joy! It’s the perfect time to embrace spring cleaning and declutter.
- Designate a Work Space: It’s important to have a healthy separation of work life and home life. However this is being challenged with the need for most of us to work from home right now. Creating a designated work space will not only aid in better focus “at work” but also help you more easily unwind and destress once you “leave the office” for the day.
- Ambiance: Bring beauty into your space! Hang an inspiring quote or beautiful picture, light some candles, open a window and let the fresh air in! There are so many simple adjustments that can enhance the ambiance and comfort of a space.
Stressing about what you can not control does not benefit you in any way. Take control and inspire yourself to try one of these 4 approaches to de-stressing! We believe in you!
Trust The Health & Wellness Experts
- Childs, E., & de Wit, H. (2014). Regular exercise is associated with emotional resilience to acute stress in healthy adults. Frontiers in physiology, 5, 161. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2014.00161
- Sharma, A., Madaan, V., & Petty, F. D. (2006). Exercise for mental health. Primary care companion to the Journal of clinical psychiatry, 8(2), 106. https://doi.org/10.4088/pcc.v08n0208a
- Singh, Karuna. (2016). Nutrient and Stress Management. Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences.