As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many people are reporting sky-high stress levels. In addition to depression and anxiety, medical professionals are reporting post-traumatic stress disorder among certain groups. Those at high risk include COVID survivors, those who have lost friends or family members, medical professionals, journalists, and first responders. For some, COVID-19 has caused or triggered tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, a condition already exacerbated by stress.
No matter how COVID has affected you, it’s important to learn mechanisms to cope with the stress. They’re affordable and easy to implement in your day-to-day. Read and learn how to reduce stress effectively with our guide below.
“Take a breath” is a common expression when trying to calm someone down. Studies show taking deep breaths indeed helps us to reduce stress levels and feel more relaxed. Many people, however, don’t take deep enough breaths– they’re “upper chest breathers,” says yoga teacher Aimee Hartley. Instead, people should breathe into their bellies and exhale slowly.
Meditation has enjoyed increasing popularity over the last few years. Countless apps, websites, and books offer exercises and guidance, which is especially useful as in-person classes might be out of reach for now. Techniques include mindfulness meditation, in which you concentrate on breathing and your body; progressive muscle relaxation, during which you consciously relax every body part; visualization, in you which evoke relaxing images, and many others.
While getting together is difficult at the moment – and masks make every outing a stressful experience for some – you can still stay connected to loved ones. Loneliness can have a detrimental impact on mental health, so it’s important to make an effort to engage with others. This could be as easy as a text checking in with a friend, making a phone call, engaging with each other on social media, or organizing larger hangouts via video chat. Open up about your fears and anxiety– many people are going through tough times, and discussing your emotions will make you feel better.
Spend time in nature
Being in nature and feeling the sun on your face can be a great way to improve your mood. As spring approaches, take walks, making sure to stay 6 feet away from others even outside, sit on your porch, or take up gardening. Living in a small apartment with no green space doesn’t have to be a deterrent: There are plenty of tips online to grow flowers and vegetables in pots on balconies, back porches, or window sills.
Do something creative
Being stuck at home can be a great opportunity to pick up a new skill or return to a forgotten hobby. Creative ventures can be extra fun and low pressure. Learn how to paint with watercolors, write a short story, take up knitting or sewing– the options are endless. A new hobby also makes it easier to connect with new people in online groups.
Make reducing stress a priority
Between kids stuck at home, blurred lines between work and home, worrying about relatives and finances, it’s easy to put your own wellbeing at the bottom of the to-do list. Just as flight attendants warn you to put your own oxygen mask on before helping others, it’s important to take care of yourself and not lose yourself worrying about everyone else. Try out some of our tips and reduce your stress.