Stress can be brought on by everyday hassles, but especially when there are larger issues like the ongoing public health concern of a pandemic. While no one’s life is completely stress free, regular negative stress can keep us from feeling and performing our best; therefore, it is important that we learn how to manage it.
While it may seem like the coronavirus news is everywhere, one research-based technique shown to reduce stress, both short-and long-term, is simply to take a break. Taking in information about the pandemic repeatedly can be unsettling. But when you choose to step away, it gives you an opportunity to gain a new perspective or practice techniques to help you feel less stressed. Even just 20 minutes can be beneficial. Consider one of the following activities to help you destress.
1. Yoga – If you are new to yoga, now is the perfect time to take advantage of the many free online classes and reap the benefits of this stress-relieving activity at home.
2. Art – Before you say, “But I’m not an artist,” a recent study shows that engaging in a creative activity for 45 minutes significantly relieves stress in the body, regardless of experience or talent.
3. Exercise – Along with physical benefits, research continues to show exercise can have an immediate stress-relieving effect that can last for hours.
4. Go outside – Spending time outside in nature has been shown to relieve stress. If you can safely practice social distancing and are healthy, head outdoors.
5. Laugh – Many of us tend to hold stress in our face. Since our emotions and facial expressions are interconnected, laughing or smiling can relieve tension.
6. Socialize responsibly – Whether you’re social distancing, self-isolated or quarantined, there are many ways to stay connected with friends and family. Check in with others over video chat, email, text or the old-fashioned ways – by talking on the phone or writing and mailing a letter.
7. Play or listen to music – Music can have an amazing effect on the body and mind. Faster music can make you feel more alert; upbeat music can make you feel more optimistic; slower music can quiet your mind.
8. Meditate – Meditation and mindfulness can help the mind and body relax, gain a new perspective and develop self-compassion. If you’re new to meditation or mindfulness, consider starting with deep breaths. Even just one deep breath can relieve tension!
Five tips to help manage stress. (n.d.). Retrieved March 17, 2020, from https://www.apa.org/topics/manage-stress
Kaimal, G., Ray, K., & Muniz, J.(2016) Reduction of cortisol levels and participants’ responses following art making. Art Therapy, 33:2,74-80, DOI:10.1080/07421656.2016.1166832
Stress and Coping. (n.d.). Retrieved March 17, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety
By: Emma Parkhurst, Utah State University Extension professional practice assistant professor, 435-919-1334, email@example.com