As 2020 rolls on, more and more things are being cancelled. Things, in a ‘normal’ year, that would remove us from reality even for a brief moment are missing. Entertainment outlets of all kinds have vanished. These are not just fun things to do every now and then, they are essential in relieving stress. Not only have these types of stress releases been taken away, they have been replaced with additional stressors. Anxiety over the “Big C”, families and schools adapting to a new/temporary way of education, everyone adjusting to rules and regulations that are ever changing, and the financial strains many are experiencing are just a few. There is no other way to put it…...stress has been amplified. Although much of what relieves our stress levels is being cancelled, don’t cancel your health. There are ways to improve attitude and decrease stress all while improving physical health.
Exercise stress away. Exercise is a great way to activate those wonderful endorphins. No matter what type of activity you choose, physical activity must be a part of your life to reduce stress. It should not be a chore. Choose something that you enjoy (or at minimum, dislike the least) and let the feel-good neurotransmitters do their thing!
Exercise your mind. Since we are unable to physically escape like we are accustomed to, focusing on a task that has nothing to do with the stressor can help. When you have time to take a break, instead of reaching for the phone or other device (which are really just another stressor these days), try a puzzle, word puzzle, or read some fiction.
Turn on the tunes. Like exercise, people have their favorite music style. Music is a great way to relieve stress. Combine it with a task (cooking, cleaning, mowing the lawn, etc.) to really get your focus off the stress. Classical, country, rock, hip hop…..it doesn’t matter. Just choose what relaxes you and helps you escape mentally.
Breathe. Deep breathing techniques are a great way to zap stress and anxiety. A quick internet search will offer methods you can put to the test. One method is to focus on ’belly breathing’.
- Find a quiet, comfortable spot for a breathing session.
- Position yourself lying on your back or reclined in a chair.
- Breathe deep through your nose focusing on allowing your belly to rise. You can place one hand on your belly and one on your chest to make sure your belly rises versus your chest.
- Breathe out through your nose.
- Repeat several times, each time focusing on breathing into your belly.
As you master the method of deep breathing, combine it with visualization. Focusing on a ‘happy place’ while deep breathing can accentuate stress relief. Like traditional exercise, gradually increase the duration of sessions.
Mental and physical health are affected by stress. Don’t allow additional stressors of 2020 to cancel your health. There are ways to combat stress and you have a say in whether or not stress affects your health.