Living through a global pandemic and an unprecedentedly tense election year is not easy.
In fact, dealing with changes in routine, job structure, finances and even living situations can lead to heightened levels of stress and anxiety. Not to mention, with the implementation of national (and local) stay-at-home orders, living throughout all of this without being able to leave the comforts of your home, can add additional panic that many of us have not been equipped to handle.
When we’re stressed, hormones like cortisol flood our systems, producing the “fight or flight response” in which our heart rate goes up, we breathe more heavily (requiring more oxygen) and our blood vessels constrict. This often leads to panic and anxiety or the desire to find unhealthy ways to cope and manage this feeling.
If you (or someone you know has been dealing with stress, OPTAVIA coach and New York Times bestselling author Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen (Dr. A), shares a few actionable tips to de-stress at home during this difficult time.
Go for a walk.
Sometimes all you need is a change of scenery to help change your mood — especially if you’ve been in the confines of your home for too long. Just because we’re practicing social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t go outside and enjoy some fresh air. The key is to do it safely, and to stay at least six feet away from others while you’re on your walk.
Keep a schedule.
The key to managing stress (and staying productive) is keeping your regular schedule. Set an alarm clock, eat breakfast, take a shower and get dressed (at least from the top up if you’re going to be on Zoom meetings) as if you were actually going into work. You don’t have to put on a suit or tie, but you’ll need to treat the day like any other day at the office, minus the office. “Habits are built and kept with routine,” says Dr. A. “If you can’t leave your home, establish a daily schedule for when you wake up, when you sleep and everything in between. This discipline and consistency will help to keep you on track.”
Get some rest.
No one says you need to learn a new hobby, cook everyday, or keep up with what people are doing on social media. You are living through a global pandemic, and your body needs rest just as much as your mind. Give yourself some grace by staying hydrated and getting an approach amount of sleep — it will do wonders with helping you de-stress.
Dr. A encourages everyone to communicate with friends and family as often as possible. “If you find yourself reverting to old habits or turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms, the best line of defense is a supportive network of people who can offer advice, encouragement or just a listening ear,” he says.
Light some candles.
Candles can work wonders in helping you stay calm, and managing stress relief. Breathing in a scent (specifically in aromatherapy candles) triggers the parts of the brain responsible for calming you down. DW Home’s signature scents (Fresh Brew, Vanilla Tonka, White Pear & Apple, and more) are perfect for any bubble bath when you want to unwind.
Unplug when you need to.
Smartphones, in particular, are linked to increased stress, and part of the reason is because it’s the way that we consume content. Social media, news, video and even texting all go down on your phone. If you find that staying up to date on what’s happening with COVID-19 is also what’s increasing your stress level — don’t. Unplug, and only check for updates as you see necessary.
Challenge your brain.
It’s no secret that many of us have found ourselves bored over the past few weeks. How long can you binge Netflix or do your favorite YouTube workout before you become unengaged altogether? “Use this as an opportunity to sharpen your mind by exploring a new hobby or learning a new skill,” says Dr. A. “Read a book, play games or listen to educational podcasts.”
Did you know that meditation can help reduce tension and relieve stress, thanks to an extra boost of oxygen? And it only takes a few minutes a day to help you with feeling centered. “ Start by taking 30 seconds to close your eyes and focus on breathing slowly and deeply,” Dr. A explains. “ Any time you feel anxiety building, step away for a moment and meditate. Digital technology allows us to be constantly connected – which is more important than ever right now – but be intentional about disconnecting from screens to turn inward and examine how you’re feeling (journaling is a great way to do this). Reflecting and setting intentions are a key part of OPTAVIA and clients are encouraged to journal daily about their thoughts, progress and challenges in order to reflect on achievements and recognize weaknesses.”