Current circumstances have only compounded our usual stressors from work, family, and our personal lives. Every day, we hear bad news, deal with the negative economic repercussions of the pandemic (such as pay cuts and price hikes), and walk through the streets in constant fear. Even worse, stress research listed on The Conversation confirms that just six weeks of chronic stress is enough to cause depressive symptoms. We’re well past the six-week mark, so if you haven’t done anything to repel the negativity, then it’s only going to make things worse. Fortunately, trapped as we may be, you’ll find that comfort is never really too far from home. From stepping out of the house to doing yoga before you sleep, here are a couple of self-care tips that can help you cope during these stressful times.
Breathe between tasks
Workplace stress is bad enough, but working remotely is even worse. A recent study by Gallup says as much. After all, with thin boundaries between work and personal hours, people have the tendency to get buried in the former. Eventually, this leads to burnout.
One self-care tip in this circumstance is to practice a couple of breathing exercises during working hours. After all, a workplace stress guide on Pain Free Working highlights that breathing is the easiest way to release tension in both your head and body. The extra oxygen procured by deep breathing, for example, forces your body and mind to calm down. The 4-7-8 (second) breathing technique works well if you need to shift your focus onto something else. It’s useful when you start fretting over small details, giving you the reprieve that you need to look at things with a fresher eye later on. When you find yourself overwhelmed, even if it’s not because of work, simply remember to breathe.
There are several things in the great outdoors that help improve your mood when you’re feeling particularly stressed. For example, Cornell University’s interdisciplinary team found that spending as little as ten minutes surrounded by plants makes us feel a lot calmer. Exposure to sunlight also increases your serotonin levels, which is the hormone responsible for stabilizing your mood. Then again, the simple act of stepping out of the house and leaving your worries behind is a powerful mood lifter, too.
Eat healthy snacks
Our bodies crave for comfort food when we stress out. Experts from the True Health Initiative explain that stress causes our body to release cortisol or the stress hormone. This chemical is what makes us crave for sugary, greasy, and other “comfort foods.” Cortisol convinces our brains that we need them, since it thinks your body needs it to fight stress. And while this is true (after all, who stays sad after two scoops of ice cream?), it’s not good for your body. In our article ‘Self-Care Habits to Live as your Best Self’, we emphasized how while you think food is a comfort factor to our emotional state, it’s not. Food is just fuel. And if your fuel is as unhealthy as a bucket of fries, then it’s only going to cause you a lot of grief in the long run.
The secret to a stress-free life is not just a happy mind, but a happy body as well. If you’re really craving, then know that there’s a healthy option for everything, such as fruits for sweets and some homemade sweet potato cuts for fries.
Do yoga before bed
When active, cortisol makes use go into “fight or flight” mode, making it harder to sleep when you’re stressed. The lack of sleep can only cause more stress, potentially causing insomnia in the long run. To get some proper shut-eye, perform a couple of yoga moves before you go to bed. While it’s best known for improving one’s core strength and flexibility, Verywell Mind’s post highlights yoga’s other benefits, like lowering cortisol levels. Moreover, the focus needed to hold harder poses like the Lizard Pose or Before-Bed Bridge helps empty the mind, helping you calm your thoughts. Without the stimuli keeping you up, you’ll get a good night’s rest.
Times may be stressful, but don’t let that get to you. Stress is all in the hormones. If you learn to assert control over them, then you’re on your path to leading a healthier and happier life.