We are two years into the pandemic and at times it seems like the hits just keep on coming. Just when we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, then we find ourselves in a time of war. Gas prices are beginning to soar and who knows what will happen next. So how will we stay centered and stress-free in this time that seems so stress-ful? Stress has many negative effects on your heart, thus stress management is essential.
1. Begin a meditation and practice. Meditation encourages us to quiet our mind, which can help bring clarity; Meditation also incorporates deep breathing exercises. Deep breathing is typically incorporated into physiotherapy (or PT) as a part of cardiopulmonary rehab. An example of those needing this rehab includes those who have recently had surgery and are bed-bound or those with pneumonia. However, deep breathing can also help those of us who just need a moment to exhale the stress of life. There are many apps available if you need a guided meditation to get you started.
2. Connect with nature. These days we tend to spend much more time indoors than we did even 2 years ago. So, we should aim to connect more with nature, even if this means just having a window to the outside world or bringing a live plant into your workspace. Spending time in nature reduces stress and anxiety, improves your mood, and boosts feelings of happiness and wellbeing. Practices like grounding and just spending some time in the sunshine to get some natural vitamin D can also be helpful. To increase your time in nature you can go hiking, take a nature walk, go to the beach, or go kayaking. (Don’t forget the sunscreen!)
3. Relax. Relaxation is a process that reduces the effects of stress on your body. This can be different for everyone. Some may decide to take a nap; some may enjoy lighting candles; some may like reading or listening to music. There is no right or wrong way to relax. Whatever works for you, do it!
4. Go on a social media diet. We must resist the urge to always be on social media. We can pick a day, or even a few hours, to just unplug; shut your phone off; unplug the computer; don’t use WhatsApp. Both our minds and eyes need that break. Also, our necks need a break from the poor posture that is usually seen when using our smart devices. Most importantly, a social media break will leave you feeling more at peace and ready to re-engage the outside world.
5. Get away! You can take a staycation, baecation, workcation or a plain old vacation. A change in scenery is a great way to manage stress, even if it’s only for a few days. Plan a short trip if you can, even a few days to clear your mind can work wonders.
6. Plan ahead. Being organized can take the stress out of daily life. You can start small by planning out and ironing outfits for the whole week. You can also pick out your accessories, shoes, or makeup ahead of time and set them out the night before. Also, set reminders on your phone’s calendar for everything! Use a planner if you need to and set a timer for when you need to leave for work. Being well organized can be the difference between feeling calm or feeling frazzled and stressed.
7. Develop a yoga practice. Yoga is known to ease stress and promote relaxation. It has been shown to reduce anxiety. Yoga can also be used in conjunction with meditation and deep breathing. These methods encourage one to find peace. Yoga also improves flexibility and core strength. So, start your yoga practice today! You can find online classes, visit a yoga instructor’s live lessons, or go on YouTube. You can also download some free yoga apps like Yoga Nidra.
Feel free to take any one or more of these 7 tips and try applying them to your life. We can’t control everything around us and in fact, the last 2 years in a pandemic taught us that we control very little. Don’t lose hope. You can control yourself, your thoughts and your outlook. Start making some of these small positive changes today. It may make a world of difference.