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It’s 8:00 P.M. on a Tuesday night. You’ve already put dinner away and loaded the dishwasher. The kids have finished their homework and cleaned up their toys. You hear water running, telling you baths and showers have started.
The entire family is winding down and the nightly routines are underway. After all, it’s almost bedtime.
You rush around like normal, making sure that books and folders are back in the backpacks and clothes are laid out. Because tomorrow will be just as busy as today and you won’t have time for any of that in the morning.
You run around the house on autopilot, half daydreaming, half preparing mentally for tomorrow.
The kids have school and you have to work. Afterwards you’ll try to make it to the gym. Your stress isn’t going to work itself off after all … and neither will the pounds you’re trying to lose.
And speaking of pounds, you have to remember to thaw something out for dinner tomorrow.
Then again, maybe you’ll shake things up. And take the family out to eat … if you can all decide on a place to go. Maybe you’ll even do some shopping afterwards.
Your leg vibrates as an alert shakes you out of your day-dreaming. You look down at your phone. It’s 10:00 p.m., not 8 o’clock.
You inhale sharply as panic hits you. Where did the time go?
The kids aren’t in bed yet. They aren’t showering or picking out clothes. You’ve been sitting, not scrambling around getting last minute cleaning done or getting things around for tomorrow like you’d normally be doing.
In fact, no one is doing what they’d normally be doing on a Tuesday night. Because this isn’t a typical night.
The kids don’t have school tomorrow (even though it’s a Wednesday) and you don’t have to go to work.
They’ve been off for a few weeks already, ever since the mandatory school closings issued by the state governor.
And you’ve been off work for a week or two. Or was it three? You aren’t really sure.
The days are just kind of running together at this point.
You remind yourself again that you won’t be going to the gym tomorrow, or to a restaurant with the family, or shopping … you probably won’t be going anywhere.
Which makes tomorrow no different than today.
The only difference is that you’ll feel even more restless, tired of being stuck at home.
And you’ll be bombarded by even worse news headlines and emails about how many more people have been infected by the Coronavirus in your county or how much higher the death total has gone.
If you’re like most people, you probably wish you could have a normal day.
But instead of having a normal day, you’re quarantined. Stuck at home. Losing money. Unable to go where you want to go or do what you’d normally do.
It’s frustrating. And it’s stressful.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying your normal life isn’t full of stressors of one kind or another … I’m sure it is. All of our lives are. But this is a different type of stress.
A new breed of stress
We’re experiencing a situation unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetime.
There’s the stress of the pandemic itself plus the added stress of being forced to adapt to a new way of living.
If you’re experiencing constant worrying, anxiety, depression, anger, or even moments of panic …. It’s all completely normal (and justifiable) considering what you’ve been thrown into.
But it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions from a fear-based emotional state. Try not to take it out on the people around you and try not to let it color the way you see everything else in your life right now.
The Quarantine is temporary
Your current circumstances will eventually pass.
So for now, try to remind yourself that there’s more to life than your daily routines, your job, your social life, and everything else that you’re missing.
You can still choose to be optimistic and find reasons to be grateful while experiencing a crisis.
It might not be as easy to see from your current state. So for that reason, we’re going to focus on relieving stress first.
Carrying around too much stress can do real damage to you mentally, physically, and emotionally. This affects your behavior and mindset, causing changes to the way you relate to yourself, others, and how you interact with the world around you.
Carrying around too much stress can do real damage to you mentally, physically, and emotionally. This affects your behavior and mindset, causing changes to the way you relate to yourself, others, and how you interact with the world… Click To Tweet
But once you’re able to calm down, relax and get centered, you’ll start to feel more like yourself again.
From a calm state you’ll be able to think clearer, process what’s going on better, and come up with creative solutions to your current problems.
What is stress?
“Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When you sense danger—whether it’s real or imagined—the body’s defenses kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction or the “stress response.”
I won’t go too deep into the definitions, causes, or symptoms of stress in this article. I doubt that you need me to. You’re already going through more than your share of stress because of the Coronavirus quarantine. And it’s bad enough without dwelling on it.
You already know what you’re feeling and experiencing. As well as the obvious causes.
If you do want to read more about stress (definitions, symptoms, and causes), from medical sources, here are a few expert sources you can check out:
*Note: If you’re experiencing severe stress, emotional, or psychological symptoms that could threaten your (or someone else’s) health, please don’t hesitate to seek the help and advice of a licensed professional.
Relieving stress during a crisis is important
“An individual who feels as though they do not have enough resources to cope will probably have a stronger reaction that could trigger health problems. Stressors affect individuals in different ways.”
Reducing excess stress is always important. But right now we’re dealing with a new kind of stress because of everything going on in the world. Finding ways to relieve some of that stress is more important than ever.
During a crisis you need to be able to handle whatever life throws at you. And by reducing some of your stress you’ll:
- Have more of a consistent energy level throughout the day so that you can get important things done
- Regain your ability to focus and concentrate, so you can block out distractions and be at your best
- Make better decisions during tough times even when you have less options than usual
- Stay calm and centered enough to think clearly in the midst of bad news
- Feel more like yourself again
- Be able to think positively and be optimistic about the future
- Still get to enjoy the parts of your life that you can control
- Be able to get back to pursuing your hobbies, goals, and passions
That’s why it’s so important to find and use stress relief methods that work for you right now.
Before the stress gets out of hand and begins to affect you in ways that affect your health and behavior.
“Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there.’
You don’t have to wait for the world to change back and honestly, you can’t afford to. You don’t know how long that might take.
Remember, these are abnormal and unpredictable times for all of us. On top of our typical, daily stressors, we now have:
- Fear of uncertainty. We don’t know how much worse this might get before it gets better.
- Constant anxieties and feelings of dread. New for those who have never felt that way before.
- Worries about not having enough money from being out of work. How will you pay your rent or other bills? How will you feed your family if you don’t have money saved up and don’t want to go further into debt?
- Worries about keeping your business running, if it’s a “non-essential” business and has had to shut down or is getting less business than normal. Will you be able to make up the revenue? Pay your taxes? Your employees?
- Worrying about childcare now that schools are out indefinitely and daycare centers are closed. Worrying about your school aged kids falling behind. Wondering how you’ll get them to do “homeschool” work, if they’ll pass their current grade, and what the school year will be like for them next fall.
- Worrying about your loved ones who are still out working. We worry about them being overworked, catching Covid-19, or bringing it home.
- Worrying about getting sick or even dying.
- Worries about losing loved ones. Especially your older relatives and the ones locked down in nursing homes.
- Worrying you’ll stay healthy and in shape now that gyms are closed.
- Not knowing what to believe in the news or on social media.
And underneath it all, you’re probably feeling angry, frustrated, and even powerless over the fact that you have to go through this experience, period.
I feel you on that because I am too!
And what makes matters worse are all the ways that our lives have had to change.
Some of them are adding more stress to a bad situation and other changes have taken away some of our usual stress relief behaviours.
- Being stuck at home more than you’re used to cuts down on the amount of social interaction you’re probably used to. Not so bad for an introvert, but if you’re an extrovert you’re probably going stir crazy. *cue the bored in the house song*
- Not being able to relieve stress by going out: to the gym, to bars, to parties or the club, to hangout with friends, on trips, to sporting events or concerts, conventions, churches or any other large social gathering place.
- The kids are home all day now which gives you even less time to take breaks, relax, or get stuff done. Plus, you have to watch which details about the virus you tell them about (or let them overhear).
- You can’t just run out to the store whenever you need to. Places close early or are closed altogether. And even essential items are more likely to be out of stock or have longer delivery times.
- And lastly, if you aren’t used to spending 24 hours a day, everyday, with your spouse, family members, or roommates, this could be either a blessing or a nightmare … depending on your personal situation.
The only good news is that you’re not going through this alone. We’re all in this together.
This means that we can share relatable stories and talk about our collective problems on social media more freely than before. And that can be a great outlet for those of us who benefit from having emotional support and a sense of community.
Feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this post with any stories or problems that you want to share.
I live in Pennsylvania and we’ve been luckier than most because we live in more of a rural area. The bigger cities (Philadelphia, Pittsburgh) are being hit the hardest. Our county didn’t even have a confirmed case until mid-late March.
(At the time of originally writing this, we had 30+. But at the time of editing this, we’re up to 72.)
When the first two cases were confirmed, the situation felt so much more real. And although we had been taking it seriously (staying home more, sanitizing, avoiding stores, etc) knowing it was so close to home made us not even want to leave the house or stop at gas stations.
Non-essential businesses had started closing but we hadn’t been quarantined yet. We were trying to stock up on groceries in case it did happen, since it was happening in nearby counties.
Buying everyday things like milk, eggs, fruit, and water (to drink and distilled for my sleep apnea machine). One big problem though … our fridge was on its last leg and running warm.
The last thing we wanted was to get quarantined and lose all of our food if the fridge died completely.
Since we kept putting it off, we’d missed the sales on the type of fridge we really wanted (french doors, stainless, with ice and water built in). But we were able to get a decent top and bottom stainless model that’s working for us.
Luckily Lowes and Home Depot were still open, considered essential because they sell water. If we had had to wait for an online order to get delivered, we would’ve lost most of our food because delivery times were twice as long as normal.
That was our only major crisis so far.
Essential workers and older relatives
Since I have vision disabilities, I’m home with the kids. So in that way childcare hasn’t been a problem. And our income hasn’t been affected because my fiancé works an essential job at a nursing home.
That last part is both a blessing and a curse. She gets to work but at the same time it means she’s out there in public everyday where she’s at risk.
Nursing homes are on lockdown so technically she’s safer there than if she worked at a more public place. But still, there’s no way of knowing how safe her co-workers are being during their off time.
Her mom does work with the public and at a Sheetz gas station at that. We worry about her since she’s in her 60’s and has health problems.
I also worry about my own parents (as well as aunts and uncles) who do live about three hours from us, in a city that is starting to get hit hard by the virus.
My parents are in their late 60’s, both have high blood pressure, and my dad had two stents put in a few years ago. He’s retired but works as a delivery driver delivering government products. It’s considered essential so he’s still working.
The kids are upset and begging to visit their grandparents because we haven’t seen them since Christmas. We had planned to visit soon, by Easter time. But now we’re afraid to travel down there with everything going on. The best we can do is Skype with them for now.
My oldest is nine years old, almost 10 and we have to watch how graphic we are when talking about Coronavirus news updates around him.
He understands a lot of it but has trouble understanding exactly why we can’t go out to the trampoline park or Gamestop since he’s off school and has so much free time. Plus we don’t want him to worry too much.
He and his cousins already lost two grandparents last year and it still affects them.
In what ways has the Coronavirus situation affected you and your family? Comment down below.
17 Feel-Good Ways to Relieve Quarantine Stress Today
“To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life.”
-Jill Botte Taylor-
There are plenty of stress relief methods to choose from. But have you ever stopped to ask yourself which stress relief methods are the most helpful? This forced ‘pause’ period in your life, could be a good time to re-evaluate your old methods and consider adding some new ones.
So although you probably have your own list of favorites, since the quarantine may be interfering with some of them, here’s a list of natural stress reducing methods that you can do at home.
1) Relieve stress by increasing your intentional productivity
This first one might seem a little counterintuitive since you already feel overstressed and overwhelmed, but let me explain.
Did you notice that it reads “Intentional Productivity“? There’s a difference between being productive for the sake of being productive and being intentionally productive.
“Americans work longer hours on average than any other industrialized country. And all global economic indicators suggest that despite the additional hours outcomes remain low. Everyone is busy — but that isn’t necessarily translating into productivity.”
You practice intentional productivity by being mindful about how you spend your time and energy. This means giving priority to your most important tasks, the items on your to-do list that will make the biggest impact to your overall goals.
It also involves being mindful while you perform your tasks by blocking out distractions and focusing on one thing at a time.
Leave the multi-tasking for the less important stuff.
Intentional productivity also means to make time for your most important life goals. I’m referring to your passions, long-term goals, and your life’s purpose.
If you aren’t pursuing your purpose yet read 4 Life-Changing Benefits of Having a Purpose in Life
Of course the floors need vacuumed, the bills need paid, the laundry and dishes need done, but It’s important to make time for the things that light you up inside. The things that you do out of love, solely because you want to (or feel inspired to) do them.
When you do the things you love, you naturally relieve stress.
It doesn’t matter if it’s something that is just for your own enjoyment or something that moves your life forward in some way, like a new business or side hustle. What matters is how it makes you feel.
I’m staying intentionally productive by working on my “side-business” aka this blog. Instead of slowing down because of the stress, I’ve been putting in more time.
Moving forward towards my goals and dreams are important to me. And I’m going to do my best to make them happen. Especially since so much is uncertain and this could be my only chance.
So instead of letting the anxiety over the state of the world (and what might happen) dominate and make you think “why bother”, give what you can while you can!
That’s why I launched this blog early and didn’t wait until I had ‘enough’ posts on it. I made due with the progress I had made and talked myself into investing in the legal pages templates I desperately needed to make my blog official.
I decided to stop waiting for the right time, to stop being cheap, and to stop making excuses.
No matter what happens now, I can say I worked on fulfilling my purpose. And so can you if you intentionally make time for it.
In what ways did you move your life forward while being stuck at home?
And if you worked from home, did it inspire you to take your side hustle more seriously so you can work from home permanently someday?
Leave a comment below.
2) Relieve stress by learning something new
Since you’re hearing Coronavirus related news every five minutes, what better time than now to spend reading and learning about new things?
When you read, you get to choose what you’re feeding your mind. So choose something enjoyable that you can get lost in, or something uplifting to help combat the worries, anxieties, and negativity.
I’m mostly reading personal development related books and blog posts because it helps to put more positive thoughts in my head and keep my mind off of everything else.
Two books I’m currently reading are Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones and Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People.
Both are topics that I’m curious about and feel I need to work on. I’m a few chapters in on both books and would highly recommend checking them out. Captivate is more lively and humorous while Atomic Habits is more serious but so enlightening when it comes to human behaviour.
The blog posts I choose to read either come from someone who’s email list I subscribe to or from Pinterest. And the topics are pretty random. Personal development, blogging, writing, parenting, morning routines, habits, goal setting, energy healing, mindfulness, leadership, internet marketing, etc.
They can be subjects I need to learn about for my business, topics I’m researching to write about, or sometimes a title gets me so curious that I just have to click it.
I’ve also pulled out one of my favorite books about meditation. So that I could remember (and relearn) some of the routines that I used to use back when I did meditate regularly twice a day.
The breathing techniques and meditations had me feeling so light and peaceful that stress couldn’t touch me at the time. There was a sense of security that surrounded me and I felt ‘complete’. It’s a book called The Ego Identity Crisis: Handbook for Enlightenment.
There are also a few other books and teachers of spirituality that I’ve been re-visiting lately and for similar reasons.
- To help control the thoughts going through my mind.
- To do my best to absorb more positive than negative.
Choose whatever reading (audio or video) materials work best for you.
3) Relieve stress with meditation and mindfulness
“Within you, there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.”
– Hermann Hesse
Whether you’re reading about it, learning it, or actively practicing it, meditation is one of the most commonly recommended natural stress relievers. And for good reason.
Meditation has so many positive benefits related to reducing stress and improving your physical, mental, and emotional health.
Meditation has so many positive benefits related to reducing stress and improving your physical, mental, and emotional health. Click To Tweet
In 5 Ways to develop your self-awareness skills I wrote that when you practice mindfulness and meditation, you’ll learn how to slow your thoughts down and gain better control of your mental focus and concentration.
As a result, you’ll develop the ability to observe your thoughts and emotions without judgment. This includes the thoughts that are stressing you out and causing anxiety.
When you can watch them without judgment, you slowly lose the urge to chase after them (dwell on them) or push them away (repress them). And that will slow down the momentum of the thoughts and stressful feelings that they usually bring out in you.
It’s a process, but if you stick with it you’ll learn how to keep that calm for longer periods throughout the day.
You can practice these skills in a variety of different ways. So you should start with a meditation style or mindfulness exercise that resonates with you.
If a traditional sitting meditation works for you, then use one of those. It’s a good style to start with because you can add on other exercises on top of that as you progress.
Mindfully observing and changing your thoughts from what you don’t want to happen to what you do want to happen is an active exercise you can use anytime and anywhere. It’s easier to learn while sitting somewhere quiet, but that isn’t a requirement.
As a parent myself, I understand how rare uninterrupted, alone time can be. Especially while the whole family is home.
4) Relieve stress with exercise … at home
The gyms are closed, and that sucks for a lot of us. Yes, you can work out anywhere, but most of us don’t have the same equipment at home as we do at the gym or an environment where we won’t be distracted or interrupted.
What I’m getting at is this …
… it is possible to get a good workout at home, BUT you have to approach home workouts a little differently.
For one, you might need to lower your expectations, especially when your goal is to reduce stress.
Pushing yourself extra hard or getting discouraged easily won’t help. If anything, it will add unnecessary stress.
Here are a few other tips:
- Be creative with whatever space and equipment you have available
- If you don’t have as much weight available, do high rep sets, super sets, extra slow reps, or circuit training
- Don’t worry if you can’t do your normal gym routine, you won’t lose all of your gains.
Do what you can and change it up. This goes along with having realistic expectations.
The most important thing is that you’re staying active and healthy while you’re stuck at home.
“Exercise can improve mood and may boost dopamine levels when performed regularly.”
If you need home workout routine ideas you can find a ton of them on Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube.
Every personal trainer and fitness influencer is in the same situation as you are so they’re posting their workouts on a regular basis.
5) Journal or do a “brain dump” to relieve stress
“Remember that stress doesn’t come from what’s going on in your life. It comes from your thoughts about what’s going on in your life.”
– Andrew J. Bernstein
Journaling gets thoughts out of your head and onto paper (or a doc) which gives you a more complete look at what’s going on inside of you.
Journaling gets thoughts out of your head and onto paper (or a doc) which gives you a more complete look at what's going on inside of you. Click To Tweet
This includes random thoughts, emotions, anxieties, fears, belief systems, hopes and dreams.
Once you can see the bigger picture, you’ll be able to uncover hidden insights by unraveling painful thoughts and emotions down to their root cause.
The increased awareness and understanding of the situation can help you come up with solutions to problems you originally thought were unsolvable.
What should you write in your journal?
Journal about whatever you want. You can free-write whatever comes to mind or journal in more structured ways when you have a specific outcome in mind.
For example: If you’re writing out a goals list or brainstorming ideas for a business or deciding on a gift for someone.
Journaling is about you, your reasons, your preferences, and for your benefit.
Should you write by hand or type it up?
If you like the intimate feel of handwriting your words, you can stick to the traditional pen and paper. But if you have bad handwriting and would rather type your thoughts digitally, you’d probably prefer to use docs or an app as your journal.
I do a combination of both.
Even though my handwriting is barely legible, I still enjoy writing with pen and paper. I prefer blank, white printer paper because of the freedom it gives.
It works best for me when I’m writing lists. But I use lined notebooks for specific topics or writing exercises (ex. Marketing research or Copying sales letters by hand). That way, it’s all in one place.
I use a Google doc as an ongoing journal that I have with me at all times. And since it’s digital, if I write down an idea or brainstorm something that applies to my blog, I can just copy and paste it into a new doc.
Lately I’ve been testing out a new, reusable journal called a Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook. In a way, it’s a fusion of the different types of journals we’ve been talking about.
I get the “real feel” of writing with a pen, the freedom of unlined paper, and the unlimited space of digital. All in one. I can even use an app to scan and upload the pages directly to my google drive or email.
Some other benefits include:
- It folds down flat like a spiral notebook so you don’t have to write on a curved page
- It comes in a few different sizes (8.5 x 11, Executive size, and Mini size) and also in teal
- You can buy colored pens to use with it that are also erasable
- It wipes clean with just a damp cloth (included)
Another cool feature of the Rocketbook is that it’ll automatically rename your scanned file if you draw two hashtags (##) on either side of the title. I’ve tried this feature once and it does work … but you need to use nicer handwriting than I did.
Here are the results:
It was supposed to say “Benefits of Rocketbook” *facepalm*.
Brain dump journaling
Since you’re journaling to relieve stress and anxiety, a brain dump is a good place to start.
“A brain dump is simply the act of dumping all the contents of your mind onto paper as one might dump the contents of a purse onto a table. You are spilling out stressors, your nagging thoughts, your pesky annoyances.”
Have you ever tried a brain dump before? If not, give it a try and leave a comment telling me how much better you felt afterward.
You probably felt the sensation of a weight (or cloud) being lifted off of you.
It’s almost unbelievable how many thoughts and feelings go through our minds everyday day, and how much builds up and weighs us down.
Do yourself a favor and add gratitude journaling to your daily routine.
You won’t feel the instantaneous release of stress like you do with brain dumping, but the long-term mood-boosting and mindset improving benefits more than makeup for it.
It’s easy to start.
Simply write a list of all of the things you can think of that you feel grateful for. You can write in a paper journal, a word/google document, or use a gratitude journal app. There are plenty to choose from in both the Google Play and App stores.
I’ve been using the Zest gratitude journal app for about a year and a half. Usually right before bed. I do a recap of everything that happened that day that I feel grateful for.
After a few weeks, my outlook on life improved. It got easier to see at least one good thing about almost any situation and easier to think of things to add to my lists.
Some people recommend gratitude journaling first thing in the morning instead of at night. It’s supposed to better your chances of having a positive mindset throughout the day.
Try both ways and see what works best for you.
6) Try out a new hobby (or relearn an old one)
You can learn just about anything online. Between blog posts, online courses, and YouTube, starting a new hobby is just a quick search away.
Who knows, you might stumble onto a new passion.
I say that because it has happened to me a few times. And being the obsessive type of person that I am, going full speed ahead into a new hobby or passion always takes my mind off of everything else going on.
If you already have a hobby (or several) that you used to find relaxing but haven’t had time for recently, now might be a good time to restart.
Who knows, you might fall in love with it again. And if that’s the case, it could be the stress-relieving activity you’ve needed all along.
What hobbies have you had that made everything else disappear and caused time to fly by?
7) House cleaning and home repairs can relieve stress
This one isn’t as enjoyable as some of the others on the list. But if your family is anything like mine, you probably have cleaning to catch up on or a few repair projects to start. Maybe home repairs that you kept putting off for when you had more time or more money.
Since you’re already stuck at home and don’t have as many appointments or extracurricular activities to run off to, you should be able to find time to work on those home maintenance projects now.
Maybe not the more expensive ones (like fixing a central air unit) but some smaller projects.
This should make u feel accomplished and give you some quick wins.
My only tip is to do them mindfully. Meaning, take your time, focus on one task at a time, and don’t rush it as you’d normally have to do when you do have a busier schedule.
8) Use affirmations to relieve stress and anxiety
Do you use affirmations? If not, have you ever wondered why some people do use them and whether they work or not?
I have used them, and they do work. But maybe not how you’d expect them to work.
I see them as a mindset exercise. Not as a magical way to become an unbearably happy person overnight or as a shortcut to reaching my goals.
Not only can affirmations help transform a negative outlook on life into a more positive mindset, but they can also open your mind up to new ways of seeing every area of your life. Ways that you’ve never considered before.
Depending on what kind of affirmations you’re using.
For example: a pre-made list of affirmations for stress relief, might suggest ways of feeling and experiencing the world that you never knew existed.
So not only will that boost your mood over time (remember, I said exercise), it’ll also give you hope for a better future.
9) Breathing exercises can relieve stress quickly
Breathing exercises can be used alongside meditation or as it’s own standalone practice. Either way, you’ll benefit from doing it regularly.
There are so many types and techniques that I’ve tried and encountered, that I will have to write a separate post to go into more detail about them.
All you really need to know to start is:
- Some exercises are for basic health and well-being purposes (relaxation, clearer mind, improve lung capacity, increase daily energy)
- Other techniques are more advanced and for specific spiritual purposes (raising consciousness level, awaken kundalini energy, balance the chakras, enter samadhi)
If you make it a daily habit, some of the benefits you’re likely to encounter are:
- Deeper breathing in general. A lot of us are normally shallow breathers
- Feeling more centered and grounded
- Your mind wandering less and regaining focus becomes easier
- Being able to focus and concentration for longer periods of time
- A sense of calmness and peacefulness in both mind and body. Especially if you reach the alpha brainwaves state.
- Mindfulness and self awareness skills get easier
- Coughs and chest congestions start to clear up
- Trapped emotions and stuck energy might come to the surface to be released
How to use breathing exercises to relieve stress
My favorite type (and the most effective for me) is called Pranayama. This type of breathing technique has four steps. Each step involves counting to a specific number while either inhaling, exhaling, or pausing.
The number counts can be changed, depending on preference, for example:
- Inhale for a count of 6
- Hold for a count of 4
- Exhale for a count of 6
- Pause for a count of 4
- Inhale for 4
- Hold for 3
- Exhale for 4
- Pause for 3
You can do 8 and 4, 8 and 6, 5 and 3, or even 4 and 4.
Just keep it consistent. And either decide on a certain number of times that you’ll do it (counting after each complete set) or a specific amount of time. I’d recommend no less than 50 times or 20 minutes.
You can start with less time to try it out, and you will probably feel more relaxed and centered. But to get the full effect, 15 – 20 minutes is usually my minimum to reach alpha state and feel fully at peace.
Bonus tip: Do some stretching and progressive muscle relaxation before starting. This usually speeds up the overall relaxation and can have a stress relieving effect of it’s own.
10) Qigong for stress relief
I’ve always wanted to take a Tai Chi, Qigong, or a Yoga class, but that’s not an option right now. So I recently started a free online Qigong course that I can do at home.
“The combination of gentle movement, deep focused breathing, and mindful focus creates a state of bliss, balance, and calmness that will break the yoke of a modern day stressful lifestyle.”
Any type of moving meditation will help you relax, release stress, and recharge your energy.
I’m sure there are plenty of good at-home yoga and tai chi programs for beginners too. Give them a try if you’re interested.
I tried learning Tai Chi through a video years ago, but it didn’t work for me. Mainly because it’s difficult for me to follow movements when the person on the screen is facing me and I have to do the opposite of what they’re doing.
Especially when you have to match arm and leg movements at the same time. For that reason, I think a live class would suit me better.
11) Eat stress reducing foods
“Foods can help tame stress in several ways. Comfort foods, like a bowl of warm oatmeal, boost levels of serotonin, a calming brain chemical. Other foods can cut levels of cortisol and adrenaline, stress hormones that take a toll on the body over time.”
Stress relieving foods can be grouped in a few different ways. They can be grouped by:
- The type of food they are (fruit, vegetables, nuts, etc.)
- The kinds of vitamins, minerals or nutrients they contain (C, Zinc, etc.)
- The effect that they have on the body (Causes production of serotonin or dopamine)
It sounds complicated, and it is, but luckily most of the foods on the list that help relieve stress fall into more than one category. Meaning, that as long as you’re eating them, you’ll enjoy several benefits.
Types of foods that reduce stress
- Fruits – citrus fruits, strawberries, blueberries, prunes, plums
- Leafy vegetables – spinach, collard greens, mustard greens, kale
- Complex carbohydrates and high in fiber – oats, whole-grain breads and pastas, sweet potatoes, rye, brown rice
- Fermented foods – Sauerkraut, pickles, kefir
- Nuts and seeds – cashews, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia and flax seeds
- Legumes – beans, lentils
Vitamins, minerals, and ingredients that relieve stress
“Your brain, like other organs, responds to what you eat and drink. It needs several vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to stay healthy. If you deprive your brain of these essential nutrients, it can’t function properly. This can raise your risk of mental health problems.”
- Vitamin C – it boosts the immune system – citrus fruits
- Magnesium – produces dopamine (a feel-good chemical in the brain) – leafy greens
- Zinc – helps to relieve stress and regulate your mood – egg yolks, beef, liver
- Unrefined Carbs – take longer to digest than simple carbohydrates, boosts serotonin production and provide energy without causing sugar spikes
- Antioxidants – lowers levels of stress hormones – dark chocolate, blueberries, strawberries, plums, prunes
- Probiotics – increases healthy bacteria and promotes gut health – yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi
- Omega-3 and healthy fatty acids – reduces stress and anxiety, improves concentration, boosts mood, reduces inflammation and stress on the heart and body, lowers cholesterol – fish, avocados, nuts and seeds
- Tryptophan – boosts serotonin production – Turkey breast, egg yolk, cheese
“About 95% of serotonin receptors, which are key to stabilizing mood and brain function, are also found in the lining of the gut.”
12) Which tea for stress relief?
We’ve all heard that drinking herbal teas can be calming, relaxing, and relieve stress. They can even improve your overall health. But which ones?
Well as it turns out, there are a lot of them. During my research, I came across lists that had up to 25 different stress-relieving teas. Some teas that came up the most were:
- Green tea
- Lemon balm
- Valerian root
The list goes on and so do the herbal blends containing combinations of these and other herbs. Even black tea has been proven to lower cortisol levels, lessening anxiety and stress.
Because of a mild blood pressure issue that developed due to the pain from my pectoral tear surgery, I moved away from most coffees and mostly drink green tea.
Matcha green tea is great during the day because of the increased focus benefits and caffeine-free green tea or herbal blends can help you relax at night.
Lipton’s matcha green tea is my favorite. It seems a little stronger and has a better (fuller) taste to me.
Try out a few different types and be aware of how they make you feel.
13) Play an instrument
Do you keep telling yourself that you’re going to get back into playing your instrument, but can never find the time? If so, this might be the perfect time to reignite the passion and weave it into your schedule.
If you’ve never played an instrument before but always wanted to try, then this goes right along with learning a new hobby or skill.
And since you have more free time than usual, you can put in a lot of time upfront, making it more likely that the habit will stick. Even after your life goes back to normal.
I’m a trombone player from way back and then learned to play both acoustic and electric guitars during college.
I haven’t played much since I had kids because the electric was too loud for my son’s ears. But now that he’s older and plays drums himself, I’m going to relearn and then try to teach the boys how to play too.
14) Play video games or watch movies with your kids
“A study showed that action-based video games not only reduce stress but can sharpen cognitive abilities such as reaction speed. This can help gamers think more quickly on their feet and likely be more proficient in problem-solving, which can reduce stress in other ways as well.”
For me and my sons, playing video games together happens at least a few times a week. Usually a little less during the school year but lately it’s turned into a daily occurrence.
My oldest is home from school because of the quarantine and my youngest (3 years old) is finally old enough to figure out the controls for most games.
If video games aren’t your thing, cool. I grew up playing Nintendo and Sega but then stopped for about 20 years.
Now that I play again, I love being able to share that passion with my kids. It’s a form of family bonding time and a great stress reliever for us.
Related: If you’re also a life-long video game fan, check out this extremely informative article about the history of video games.
It takes you on a journey from the invention of video games up to the present, in timeline form. I learned a lot, plus it served as a nostalgic trip down memory lane.
Over the past month we’ve been really into Fortnite. My oldest has the new Battlepass and was determined to reach level 60 to get a character named Meowscles … who is basically a cat with huge muscles. So we all played and completed challenges to help him reach his goal.
When we got close (a couple of levels away), I stayed up late and played a few games so he’d be surprised the next morning.
After that, it was another character at level 100 and then to complete the Deadpool challenges to unlock Deadpool. Needless to say, It just keeps going and going.
But focusing on those collective goals kept our minds occupied with something we enjoyed and off of the daily Covid-19 infection statistics.
The same goes for watching movies that we all enjoy. So far we’ve watched Spies in Disguise, Earnest Goes to School (a classic!), and Sonic the Hedgehog.
15) Listen to music to relieve stress
Music benefits so many people in so many different ways.
To some, music is life. It’s their emotional therapy and their escape from the world. Music was how they learned to understand themselves on a deeper level. And how they found their unique voice.
So it should come as no surprise that music is an extremely effective form of stress relief.
I do most of my music listening in the car or at the gym. Well … at least I used to, before the quarantine. But now, since I hardly go anywhere, I’ve kept up with it by telling Alexa to play Viral Hits on Amazon Music and by watching TikTok videos.
My fiancé and I both have a slight (maybe moderate?) TikTok addiction. So much so that I bought us matching Crusher Wireless “bass you can feel” headphones to really bring the music to life at home. These things actually vibrate with the beat.
They’re the closest headphones I’ve found to the experience of being in a car that has a subwoofer.
They even beat the Sony Xtra Bass Bluetooth headphones I’ve used at the gym for the past few years.
Here’s a mood-boosting song that I originally heard as a remixed song on TikTok. It always brings a smile to my face.
My kids love the song too and ask Alexa to play it.
Surfaces – Sunday Best
Speaking of TikTok … Yes, it’s geared towards a younger crowd, but if you haven’t used it yet, you’d be surprised at the wide range of content creators when it comes to age and variety of content. Plus, businesses are starting to see the marketing potential of the platform.
In other words, it’s fun, entertaining, educational (recipes), and uplifting for all ages and demographics. This goes for watching and creating. I’ve made videos both by myself and with my kids.
The same goes for other platforms, like Instagram and Facebook.
Creating silly videos and posting pictures is a much-needed distraction from everything else going on in the world. We get to be ourselves and post content that has nothing to do with covid or the quarantine.
Just be yourself, post what you’d normally post, or if you feel adventurous, get creative ways that you never have before.
- write poetry
- build something
- act out a comedy scene
- start writing a novel
Anything that gets your emotions moving and creative juices flowing will relieve some of your pent-up stress.
17) Cook more
This last one is an easy one since you’re already cooking more than normal. And not by choice.
I get it. I feel you. I am too.
What I really mean by “cook more” is to start enjoying cooking more.
Do you remember back when you loved to cook? Before you had to cook for picky kids. And before you had so much other stuff to do and had to rush every meal.
I’m talking about back when you could take your time and cook whatever you wanted to cook. No complaints and nothing but positive vibes.
Channel that relaxed mindset and use it to enjoy cooking again. Slow down, try some new recipes, bake something different, or learn how to cook healthier now that you finally have the time.
I need to take my own advice on that last one!
Dealing with stress isn’t new. But dealing with your normal stress on top of the stress added by the Coronavirus pandemic is new. And to make matters worse, your normal stress relief methods have been limited.
Carrying around too much stress can do real damage to you mentally, physically, and emotionally. This affects your behavior and mindset, causing changes to the way you relate to yourself, others, and how you interact with the world around you.
But even with everything going on with Covid-19, and the havoc it’s inflicted on your lifestyle, there are still ways that you can reduce stress naturally … while being stuck at home.
I hope this list has been helpful and inspires you. Try a few of them or come up with some of your own. Remember, there’s no one way that works best for everyone, which is why I included so many options.
The most important part is doing them mindfully, so you can reduce your stress levels, relax, regain focus, and start feeling like yourself again.
Hopefully you’ll grow in some way, learn new skills, move forward with your purpose project, and come out of this quarantine as an even better version of yourself.