With everything going on in the world, we are certainly living in unprecedented times at the moment. The strain of economic decline, forced isolation, skyrocketing unemployment rates, and the fear surrounding the pandemic are all taking a toll on our mental health.
Now more than ever, we must be extremely mindful of our mental state and implement daily habits that optimize our mental health.
While we can’t control what is going on around us, we must find ways to reduce stress and anxiety as best we can.
Here are five simple ways we can alleviate stress and anxiety during these uncertain times.
Meditation and stress management
If you have not yet implemented meditation into your daily routine, there is no better time than now to begin. Even a few minutes of daily meditation will have remarkable benefits and significantly reduce stress and anxiety levels.
If you have tried meditation in the past but have found it difficult to quiet your mind, you’re certainly not alone.
Often as beginner meditators, we assume we are getting the practice wrong if we cant quiet our minds.
However, meditation is more about carving out a few moments of your day for solitude.
It is about becoming a witness to your thoughts, while allowing them to pass by as you focus your attention on your breath.
The more consistent you are with the practice, the easier it becomes. Just 5-10 minutes a day is plenty of time when new to the practice. Beginning your day with a few minutes of peaceful solitude will have remarkable benefits on your mental health.
Former NFL player Keith Mitchell wrote a book on how meditation helped him recover from being partially paralyzed. It truly is powerful when put to practice.
How does getting organized reduce stress?
Studies show a link between living in a cluttered environment and higher cortisol levels, a hormone that contributes to the body’s stress response.
Chronic clutter negatively impacts our mental health, leaving us feeling stressed, anxious, and even depressed.
Clutter triggers the fight-or-flight response, which is taxing on the mind and body.
On the other hand, being organized improves focus, alleviates stress and anxiety, and increases productivity.
Creating order in our lives can significantly reduce stress and anxiety.
Clearing out clutter from our closets, inboxes, and work environments are some of the many ways getting organized can produce a calming effect on the brain and body.
As a result, the more organized and productive we are throughout the day, the less stressed and anxious we feel.
How nature reduces stress
Spending time in nature is one of the best ways to calm the mind and body. While being in nature has incredible benefits, Earthing is an even more effective way to absorb the calming effects of Mother Earth.
Earthing (also referred to as grounding) is a therapeutic technique that focuses on realigning our electrical energy by reconnecting to the earth. When grounding, we allow our bodies to come in direct contact with the earth’s surface, such as walking barefoot or lying on the grass.
When we come into direct contact with the ground, the free electrons on the earth’s surface absorb into the body. Electrons are similar to antioxidants in their ability to reduce inflammation and stimulate red blood cell circulation.
Research shows that Earthing is a profoundly simple, yet highly effective way to combat common illnesses and pain. Earthing heals the body by neutralizing free radicals that cause disease and cellular destruction.
Unfortunately, most of us do not take advantage of the incredibly powerful healing properties of the earth in today’s society. However, it would be wise to learn from the practices of indigenous cultures that continue to honor and celebrate our incredible planet through Earthing.
Some of the benefits of Earthing/Grounding include:
- Neutralizes free radicals caused by electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure
- Improves sleep
- Reduces muscle soreness
- Lowers inflammation in the body
- Improves immunity
- Reduces stress and anxiety
Reading as stress relief
Would you believe me if I told you reading for just 6 minutes reduces stress by 68%, even more than listening to music or going for a walk? Reading decreases blood pressure, lowers heart rate, and significantly reduces stress.
One study revealed that reading for an average of 3 ½ hours per week increased lifespan by two years. Researchers speculate that the cognitive benefits attributed to avid readers have a positive impact on longevity.
If you are not currently a reader, it would be wise to work on establishing this habit. Leave a book on top of your pillow after making your bed to remind yourself to read a few pages before falling asleep.
Avoid reading on a device at night because the exposure to blue light suppresses the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.
Establishing the habit of reading before bed rather than scrolling on our phones significantly improves sleep and restfulness. Proper sleep leaves us mentally and physically prepared for the day ahead.
Why puzzles are the antidote for anxiety
With so much time in isolation over the last few months, puzzles became a favorite pastime for my kids and me. Puzzles quickly became a way to challenge our minds, relieve stress, and bond as a family.
I realized that before quarantine, we had neglected this fantastic hobby. Research shows that puzzles have amazing benefits for improving concentration while relieving stress and anxiety.
Concentrating on the puzzle helps to refocus the mind away from negative and stressful thoughts. Once you’re in a peaceful state of mind, cortisol, and blood pressure drops to healthier levels.
I highly recommend incorporating puzzles into your weekly routine to stimulate your mind while reducing stress and anxiety.
For more tips on how to thrive during these challenging times click here.
There are many simple, yet effective ways to manage stress in our lives. Use these five tips to help improve your mental and physical health.