It’s likely that you’ve experienced or are still facing periods of stress throughout this pandemic. It’s a natural response during these trying and uncertain times, and though it’s a natural response, it is not pleasant, and it is not a solution. It is extremely harmful to your body. 

The Negative Effects of Stress

Woman holding her head in her hands
Woman holding her head in her hands

Humans are designed to feel stress. Sometimes it can manifest positively and keep us alert and ready to avoid danger while other times, it is purely negative and causes the “fight or flight response” to be perpetually triggered. In this case, not only does stress generate unpleasant emotions, but it can also cause headaches, dizziness, fatigue, backache, high blood pressure, diabetes, chest pain, panic attacks, sleep disturbances, heartburn, and weaken your immune system. Instead of feeding into the stress, do these things:

Turn off the News 

Though it’s beneficial to know what’s going on in the world, excessively watching the news can be draining and damaging to your mental, physical, and emotional health. The headlines are dramatic and almost always negative because it catches the viewer’s attention quicker. All it takes is 14 minutes of the news to evoke sadness and cause your body to release hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Instead of flooding your brain with all of the news channels and scrolling endlessly through the articles on your phone, limit the amount of time you spend doing this or cut it out altogether. If you notice that it directly affects how you feel, ask your close friends or family for a summary of the updates so they can filter it for you. It will significantly decrease your stress levels.

Meditate

Person meditating on a beach during a sunset
Person meditating on a beach during a sunset

Meditating for as little as ten minutes a day can restore your inner peace. Whether you feel more comfortable sitting outside, lying in bed, or sitting on a chair indoors, you can meditate anywhere that suits you. Though the main reason people meditate is to deepen their connection to the metaphysical world, it can greatly decrease stress and improve relaxation. It produces a tranquil mind, and this does not go away after you are finished. It will change the way you feel for the rest of the day and the days ahead of you. By meditating every day, your mind will become clearer, and you will feel more relaxed. 

To meditate, sit in silence, close your eyes, clear your mind, and bring attention to your breath. You can also repeat a mantra or listen to a guided meditation.

Watch a Comedy

As they say, laughter is the best medicine. By watching a lighthearted movie or TV series that makes you laugh, your body will release endorphins making you feel happy while increasing immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies. 

Go for a Walk

A person going for a walk in the woods
A person going for a walk in the woods

Spending time outdoors and breathing fresh air is a natural stress reliever; the trees, wind, sky, and sight of flowers have a calming effect on the human body. Also, walking for a few minutes a day is known to alleviate depression symptoms and boost mood. Just remember to keep your distance of 6 feet.

Allow Your Creativity to Flow through You

Completing a puzzle, coloring in an adult coloring book, drawing, writing, painting, dancing, or any source of creativity that you enjoy will flood your brain with dopamine. It even gives your immune system a boost, so express yourself as often as possible! 

Eat More Vegetables and Fruits 

A large set of various fruits and vegetables
A large set of various fruits and vegetables

What you feed your body matters since your gut and your brain are connected. Try to stay away from canned food and burgers when you are feeling stressed out. Eat dark leafy greens, tomatoes, peppers, fruit, oatmeal, and dark chocolate. The fresh vegetables and fruits are lively which boosts your mood and your body will digest them within 40 minutes, so you won’t feel heavy or fatigued after eating. Dark chocolate is also known to regulate stress levels and reduce cortisol. 

Don’t judge or criticize yourself for feeling stressed out, but know that feeding into these thoughts simply attracts more of them. When you feel yourself spiraling down the rabbit hole, turn to any of the options listed above to bring peace and neutrality into your life. Take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and others and allow life to continue flowing. As the honest saying goes, this too shall pass. 

What are some things you have done to de-stress during the pandemic? Let us know in the comments!

This article originally published on GREY Journal.