Prior to the pandemic, my life was oriented around specific routines. Constantly busy with work, school, and friends, I didn’t have time to stress over the small stuff. This newfound abundance of time has fueled my overthinking and anxiety. I can no longer lean into the bliss of a hectic life. As I assume ownership over my time, my stress levels have drastically increased. Am I doing enough? Have I been productive today? A little voice tugs at my brain, towing a perpetual stream of anxious thoughts.
I was trained to believe that leisure time intrinsically reduces anxiety. Unfortunately, quarantine has revealed the importance of engaging your mind and body in activities, to maintain your sanity. No, that doesn’t mean you need to run 5 miles a day to get a hit of dopamine. A reflective, mindful action, like journaling, is enough to elevate your wellness. Below, I’ve expanded on a list of coping mechanisms to alleviate your stress. Remember, that different strategies are designed for different people. Don’t give up if a specific activity doesn’t work for you!
1.Talk it Out
Highly underrated, but very effective! Too often, we bottle up our stressors inside. Rather than ruminating on negativity, find a friend to explore your thoughts with. When anxiety is transformed into verbal sentences, your fears appear more tangible. Suddenly, the modge podge of mental stressors are expelled into the universe, where you can analyze the root of your predicament. Likewise, hearing another person’s perspective on your stress can help ground you. Your problems are not insurmountable.
If you prefer keeping your stress private, or enjoy self-exploration, journaling is the perfect coping strategy. The cascade of worries and fears clogging your mind can be released through writing. Journaling promotes mind-body dialogue, allowing you to truly connect with your personal needs and desires. The next time you feel overwhelmed with life, take a moment to converse with your inner dialogue, to relieve pent up stress.
3. Do Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises are the ideal grounding technique. Control of the body parallels control of the mind. Deep abdominal breaths regulate your autonomic nervous system, which reduces stress. Pro tip: picture a word or location in your mind while breathing to help center your focus.
4. Stretch or do Yoga
Yoga forges the mind-body equilibrium through physical stretches, controlled breathing, and meditation. These essential practices reduce stress and blood pressure. Evidently, physical practices are intimately intertwined with mental fortitude. Yoga regulates your emotional state through calming exercise, providing balance and relief for your mind.
5. Ask for Help
You are not weak for needing help. You are not a burden for needing help. Everyone needs assistance in their life, at one point or another. Reaching out to friends, families, or medical professionals can transform your mental state for the better. Oftentimes, all we need is a little compassion and understanding to cope with novel stressors.
6. Disconnect from Social Media
Social media plagues our daily lives with needless anxiety, as we constantly compare ourselves to peers and influencers. During quarantine, I find myself wondering why people appeared so happy online despite the dire circumstances. After talking to friends, I quickly discovered that this veil of joy rapidly dissolved behind the aesthetic IG pics. Every person on this planet is enduring some level of hardship; social media merely reflects the high points of people’s lives. To reduce my personal stress levels, I occasionally disconnect from social media, to engage with my health and wellness. Stepping back from the idealistic quarantine pics, I recognize the blessings in my life.
7. Take a Bath
Did you know baths and showers are clinically proven to reduce cortisol levels? Cortisol is the funny little hormone that spikes your stress levels, resulting in elevated heart rate and blood pressure. Invest in some self care, light a few candles, and create an at-home spa! These little luxuries drastically reduce anxiety, by providing your mind with a momentary reprieve.
8. Take a lil Coffee or Tea Break
This one is my personal favorite. When I feel overwhelmed with work or school, and paralyzed by undue stress, I know it is time to press pause. A little coffee (or tea!) break instantly recharges my battery, and prepares me to successfully embark upon my tasks.
I hope these tips help you manage your stress, and overcome anxious thoughts. In the whirlwind of uncertainty, it is completely normal to be experiencing elevated levels of anxiety. However, this doesn’t mean your symptoms are something to ignore. Invest time in exploring coping strategies to optimize your health and wellness. You are worthy of self-love; you deserve relief from your stress. As you explore the path to self healing, never doubt your strength. Empowered by your mind-body connection, you can alleviate your daily anxiety, and forge a path to authentic wellness.