10 Ways to Alleviate Stress
An international pandemic isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time—it’s left us stuck in close quarters with loved ones and roommates, working from home, and feeling a lot of anxiety and stress. Here are ten things you can do today to help deal with anxiety, stress and more as they crop up.
1. Eat well-balanced meals.
Don’t skip meals! Food and its nutrients are powerful mood regulators (as anyone knows if they’ve been on the receiving end of a hangry rant). Make sure you’re eating healthy, balanced meals and regular snacks through the day.
2. Take deep breaths.
We know, we know; your mom has told you this forever. But studies have shown that the way you breathe affects your entire body, from your muscles to your hormones. Deep breathing helps encourage your muscles to relax, your heartbeat to slow down, and your blood pressure to decrease—exactly what you need to ride out some anxiety.
3. Limit alcohol and caffeine.
4. Break out the journal.
Whether it’s writing down what’s stressing you out, or listing some of the good things in your life you’re grateful for, setting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) can be a really good way to vent or bring yourself to a more positive place.
5. Look for reasons to laugh.
Joke books, stand-up comics on Netflix, Vine compilations or just watching a dog make stupid decisions—finding a source of laughter is key to helping manage anxiety or stress, especially in tight quarters.
6. Get physical.
Thanks to the internet, fitness classes are at your fingertips. Enjoy yoga in your living room, some HIIT next to your bed or some jumping jacks while you’re waiting for your lunch to heat up in your kitchen. When you get your blood pumping, you reap the benefits of endorphins—and in the words of Elle Woods, “Exercise gives you endorphins; endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t.”
7. Spend time with a furry friend.
Animals have been proven to have a physiological effect on humans—they turn down our fear and anxiety and help us produce more oxytocin, or the “love hormone.” Sitting with your pet and giving them a scratch or a cuddle might be just what you need. (If you don’t have a pet but want one, consider fostering, especially since your time at home will give you some great bonding time with your foster pet.)
8. Bring it back to the present.
Anxiety drags you into a hypothetical future where everything has gone wrong and the worst has come to pass. Keep yourself in the here and now by checking in. What’s happening around you at this moment? Are you at immediate risk? Is there something that must be done now? (Another great tip: use your senses. If you’re feeling anxious, list five things you see around you, four things you can touch near you, three things you can hear at the moment, two things you smell and one thing you can taste. Mix it up if you’d like!)
9. Do something small.
Anxiety and stress can make you freeze up and feel like you’re incapable of doing anything. All tasks seem insurmountable. Focus on one small thing that you know you can achieve—washing your hands, touching your toes, opening a window or even changing location—and then do it. This can help break that cycle.
10. Stay in touch.
Social distancing, self-quarantine, isolation—these things are meant to restrict physical interaction. But humans are social creatures. If you’re feeling anxious or stressed, loneliness could be a part of that, so don’t forget to send a text to a friend, a call to your family or a quick Facebook message to a group to check in. We’re all going to get through this—together.