Ways to Beat Stress and Reduce Anxiety During The COVID-19 Lockdown
Ways to Beat Stress and Reduce Anxiety During The COVID-19 Lockdown
As stated by many medical experts across the globe, social distancing is the only way to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Sadly, social distancing, working from home and self-isolation, over prolonged periods of time takes a toll on our mental health.
It is common and natural for us to feel stress as we’re dealing with a novel experience. It’s important to know that you’re not alone, this pandemic is affecting people all over the globe. But we need to fight this stress off, stress reduces the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens, and we need our immunity to be at its best now.
This is why you need to combat the stress and anxiety you feel during this lockdown period, here are a few ways you can do that –
Limit your news intake
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is a good idea to “minimize watching, reading or listening to news about COVID-19 that causes you to feel anxious.” You need to trust the information that is verified and comes from trusted sources. Set times where you will get updates, like only in the morning or evening, following constant updates about the spread of this virus can certainly cause stress. Gather information so that you can take steps to prepare and protect yourself, don’t let the information overwhelm you, focus on facts and not rumours.
Manage what you see on WhatsApp
Even if you do your best to stay away from watching the news and reading about it, you are still bombarded with news articles, clips, videos and even voice notes of people talking about the coronavirus across all social media, especially WhatsApp. You can either request those sending you these updates to refrain from doing so, or you can mute groups where excess information is coming from. To mute groups, you need to open the group chat, click on the group name, when the information page opens up click on mute notifications and select how long you want to mute it for. This is a good way to stay away from an information overdose, without upsetting anyone.
Neuroscientists have been able to prove that meditation helps to reduce stress and anxiety. They have proven that people who meditate are happier and calmer as they shift their brain activity (brain waves) from the stress-prone right frontal cortex to the calmer left frontal cortex. Hence, it is important that you make time (anywhere from 5 -30 minutes) every day to meditate. Find a meditation technique that works best for you, or explore all techniques, but make meditation part of your routine.
Practise Breathing Exercises
Deep breathing is one of the simplest ways to reduce stress, this is one way you can relax your mind and body almost instantly. According to Kristoffer Rhoads, Ph.D., a clinical neuropsychologist, “When you’re stressed or anxious, your breathing tends to be irregular and shallow,” this is why you need to pay attention to how you breathe. Deep breathing or diaphragmatic breathing enables more air to flow into your body and helps to calm your nerves, reducing stress and anxiety. There are different breathing exercises that you can try, like square breathing, 4-7-8, and more. There are plenty of apps and videos that you can use to master deep breathing.
The benefits of exercise are plentiful, did you know exercise helps to reduce stress as well? Exercise increases your heart rate when your heart rate is up you produce and release endorphins. At the same time exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. Regular exercise like aerobic exercises has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. As little as five minutes of exercise can make a difference, try these simple exercises to get started.
Stress and anxiety lead to physical discomfort as too much stress cause your muscles to tense up, this is your body’s natural way to guard you against pain or injury. Certain yoga postures or asanas can alleviate the physical discomfort that anxiety causes. Yoga also has breathing techniques called pranayama that also helps, and yoga is also a way to meditate, so the benefits of yoga are threefold. Some studies have even said that yoga can be as helpful as an anti-depressant drug in treating anxiety and depression.
When you are experiencing stress and anxiety, a little bit of support can go a long way. Turn to friends and family for support or even to help you get your mind off your worries and have a laugh. A study has found that ‘for women, in particular, spending time with friends and children helps release oxytocin, a natural stress reliever.’ Friendships and social connections are important to both men and women and even if you can’t go out to meet your friends and family, stay connected through texts, calls, or video conferencing. It is also a good time to reconnect with the members of your family that you’re spending the lockdown with, you might never get this much time to spend with them again.
Create new habits and routines
Having a routine has a positive impact on your thoughts and feelings. Since the lockdown is stopping us from doing a lot of the things we’re used to doing like commuting to work, having lunch at a certain time, stopping work at a certain time, going for a walk a certain time, it is natural that we feel lost and stressed not being able to do this. In order to stop this from happening, it’s important to create new habits and routines so that you don’t feel lost or stressed and you have a sense of consistency.
Mindfulness is when you pay attention to or being aware of your thoughts and feelings, but not passing any judgement on what you’re feeling. You are fully aware of your present, you are not worrying about the past or future, you are just focusing on the now. This works or engages the parasympathetic nervous system. After practising mindfulness you’ll notice your heart rate lowering, blood pressure coming down and your muscle tension reducing.
Watch your diet
It is important to eat healthy and eat right, eating regular, nutritious meals is a key component of having a healthy mind. Switch out your coffee for tea, coffee has high doses of caffeine and this can cause a spike in your blood pressure. Tea, on the other hand, has healthy antioxidants, and theanine, this is an amino acid that has a calming effect on your nervous system. You should also stay away from too much alcohol and crash diets; they will weaken your immunity and stress you out more.
There are other ways to relax and destress such as by listening to music, playing with your pet, and so on. Do what you enjoy but don’t let stress control you. This video is a reminder of what to do –
Drop us a message below and let us know what you do to stay calm during this lockdown.
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