Now, more than ever, it is easy to fall victim to stress. Anxiety is at an all-time high for everyone, but even more so if you are on the front-lines battling COVID-19 head on. It is unavoidable – the feeling of uncertainty certainly has my blood pressure rising.
So, how do I deal? It is inevitable to face highly stressful periods in life, so let’s talk about the 7 most effective strategies that I have found to personally combat stress and anxiety.
1. Breathing Technique
Have you ever noticed you’re short of breath out of nowhere and your throat is closing in when you read the news headlines recently? Don’t run to the doctor just yet (unless, of course, your lips are blue).
Try this simple breathing technique and feel your sense of calm return just as quickly as it had been whisked away.
Breathe in through your nose for 5 counts
Hold your breath for 5 counts
Breath out through your mouth for 10 counts
I actually learned how to do this while I was freelancing for a Boston Hospital, and have used this technique with success many times since.
2. Epsom Salt Bath
I learned this trick during my first pregnancy. Epsom Salt, which is basically just Magnesium Sulfate, has so many beneficial properties. Some researchers claim it could potentially act as a treatment for depression, as it magnesium has been shown to naturally increase seratonin levels. However, I use it most often to combat stress and induce a natural sleepy state to help combat anxiety-induced insomnia.
3. Start a Passion Project
Crafty? Learn to knit. Love to read? Try journaling, or starting that novel that you swear you’ll write before you die. Doing something that requires focus throws us into a meditative state and before you know it you will have completely forgotten about what you were stressed about in the first place.
4. Self-care to the rescue
My favorite topic: self-care. Man, did I take this for granted when I was younger. As a mom of two toddlers, it can be tough to keep up with my basic needs, let alone the more indulgent ones. But my ultimate stress-busting hack is indulging in some straight up, unnecessary but 100% enjoyable self-care activities.
Think long and hard about ways to make yourself feel loved, and do whatever those things are for you. Here are some of my favorites, in case you are drawing a blank:
A bubble bath with dim lighting and candles
An at-home mani/pedi, complete with steam towels and cuticle oil
Make a playlist with your favorite songs from middle school and throw a dance party
Watch your favorite movie ((extra credit if it makes you laugh))
Read a book you never had a chance to finish, or revisit a favorite
Take a social media and/or screen time break – even just for an hour
Slather on some sunscreen and sit outside in a sunny spot for 10 minutes
Paint or draw a portrait of your pet
5. Take Time to Declutter
When I remove clutter from my physical surroundings, I feel a sense of calm in my mind. The little things that can be stressful really start to add up and create more and more tension in your body.
Even if you just make your bed – pay attention to the feeling as you accomplish something so small.
6. Listen to classical music
Did you know listening to classical music could decrease your blood pressure and naturally help you stress less? I am by no means a medical professional, but I have personally tested this theory in bumper-to-bumper traffic many times over. Can’t hurt to give it a try and see if that helps you, too!
7. CBD oil
Again, not a doctor but tested this out on myself. When I hold a few drops of CBD oil under my tongue for about 30 seconds, my anxiety in significantly lessened within 30 minutes.
It doesn’t taste great, but there are CBD gummies available. And no, these do NOT contain the drug that gets you high – that is THC and all of the THC has been removed from CBD oil. The only similarity is that they are both derived from cannabis plants.
Can you think of anything else that you didn’t see on this list? What is your go-to stress buster? Please share in the comments, I would love to know!