Are you stressed? Because I know I am. The state of the world right now has me feeling all types of ways. I feel a little trapped. Kind of overwhelmed. Tired. Totally unable to focus. Irritable. And just generally stressed out. You know what I mean?
The best thing we can all do right now is to stay home and limit our physical contact with others as much as possible. But that is so much harder than it seems. We all rely on each other — probably more than we even realized now — to get by.
With everything going on right now, I wanted to create a guide to stress relief to give you some ideas of how to alleviate stress on a daily basis. Letting it build and build without a healthy outlet leads us into dangerous territory. Here is how I am coping with the new stressors in my life.
The Ultimate Guide To Stress Relief
1. Take one hour to yourself every single day.
This is a non-negotiable thing for me. Even as a mom who works from home, an hour for myself everyday that does not revolve around my family, other people, or my work is critical to my mental health.
I need an hour to focus on things I want to do not things I need to do. When I don’t get this hour consistently, I feel it. I feel it mentally because my patience gets shorter. I feel it physically because I am more drained and I have less energy. I need this time let myself truly relax into relaxation.
Whether you’re home alone now, home with your spouse and kids, just your partner, just your kids, or even roommates and other family members, ask others in your life to make that space for you (and for them too) to help everyone be less stressed overall.
2. Laugh as much as possible.
Laughing helps us let loose. It helps us relax our bodies and helps us breathe in deeper which brings more oxygen into our blood and into our organs. It releases endorphins which are natural painkillers. It can also help improve your immune system by releasing neuropeptides. So really, the more you can laugh the better off you’ll be!
Also… laughing is just fun. And in times like these, a little fun is the escape we need.
3. Find an escape.
What makes you completely forget about what’s stressful in your life? Is it a good book? Crafting? YouTube? A great TV show? Whatever your thing is that always you to escape from reality in a healthy, sustainable way… now is the time to do it!!
I love reading. I’ve always been a big reader and I especially enjoy the way a good story pulls me out of my own head.
Related: 10 Books To Read In Your 20s
Escaping can also be setting your physical scene to relax. It might be lighting a candle that brings you happy memories. It could be sharpening a skill or working on a hobby. Maybe it’s rearranging your furniture or planning a future trip. Keep looking ahead!
I love reading in the bath, personally. Throw in a bath bomb or bubble bath, currently loving the one pictured below – it smells so good! – and I find myself in a place I can relax.
c/o Hallu – available at Walmart and select Kroger and Fred Meyer stores. Also available online.
4. Step away from the screen and the news.
Y’all I know it’s hard right now to not look at the latest figures and discoveries but if you stay home, it’s going to be okay if you don’t stay up to date on what is happening right this second. You’re not burying your head in the sand, you’re protecting your mental health.
We will all, of course, pick up our phones again or log on to Twitter and Facebook to see the latest developments but staying connected every second of every day is not only not necessary but overwhelming for our brains and core functioning. It’s not necessary to focus on every development every single day.
And don’t feel guilty about stepping away either. You have permission to not feel guilty for stepping away from the news.
5. Take a day off if you need to.
We are advocates for using your PTO as mental health days, and now is a good time to do that! When we are all extremely stressed out, inundated with the unknown, and feeling an overwhelming amount of responsibility, taking a break can help us recharge.
Your team will understand if you need to take a day off. Rest up. Take some time away from the news. Sleep in a little extra. Have a movie day. Do some baking. Take the pressure off of yourself to make it through your to-do list, at least one day a week.
6. Get outside (safely).
I personally am living the apartment life and right now I don’t have easy access to a safe outside space. As someone who has gotten used to going out at least once a day, this is really wearing on me. I’m not sure what is safe to do and our community spaces have been shut down as well which makes even going down the elevator feel perilous.
But sunshine and fresh air are not only good for the body, they’re good for the soul.
We were not made to sit inside all day. So if you can, get outside and enjoy some fresh air as often as possible. Connect with nature, breathe deeply, take a walk (while practicing social distancing), and enjoy it.
7. Take pressure off of yourself.
Like I said before, take the pressure off of yourself to complete your never-ending to-do list. I am a weekly to-do list kind of person. I don’t operate the best on a daily schedule because of the ebbs and flows of what I need to get done and my household’s needs.
You don’t have to be perfect. We don’t have to be productive every second of every day. It’s okay if the dishes don’t get done. It’s okay.
8. Set up a schedule and flow into a routine.
One rule I like to follow, especially as a mom, is “flexible schedules not rigid routines.” I heard this when I was learning about sleep schedules and wake windows from the Taking Cara Babies course. Yes I have a schedule that I like to follow throughout the day and we have adapted that to the current situation BUT it is not a rigid routine.
We have general timelines we need to follow and having a routine like that sets us all up for success. Everyone gets taken care of. And everyone knows what’s coming next. I’ve learned that babies and toddlers really thrive when a routine is followed. They can’t tell time so we have to give them behavioral cues as to what the next step in the day is. It’s less stressful when you know what’s coming.
There’s a lot we can’t control in the world, but we can at least give ourselves the illusion of control over our days. Treat yourself like a toddler and give yourself cues as to what’s coming next throughout the day by having a routine.
9. Give yourself something to look forward to.
If you need to bribe yourself with a cupcake, that’s okay right now, my friend.
I like to put things on my calendar to look forward to on a regular basis. Many days I treat myself to an extra coffee in the afternoon during my son’s nap time. Sometimes I work during this time and other times I let myself chill with some of my favorite YouTubers. It’s the little things in life that really keep us going.
On the weekends, we’re looking forward to doing family projects together. I’ve also bought myself some bath bombs to use on Friday nights during my “me time” just to look forward to something.
It can be something big or small, but if you look forward to it, it’s worthwhile.
10. Get your heart rate up.
Yes, I’m putting this last on the list because it’s probably something you’ve thought of but don’t really want to do. A lot of us put off exercise in regular life, but as most of us also know, the way we feel after working out is generally pretty good.
Getting your heart rate up gets your blood moving and helps take the lethargic feeling away. It can help us feel like we’ve done more than we really have just because we’ve gotten our bodies moving. At GenTwenty, we’re big fans of Les Mills (there’s a free trial in that link) but we also have other at-home workouts that we love too.
Even going on a walk matters so take advantage of exercising when you can. Plus, it’s a way to pass the time and put some fitness into your routine.
It’s okay not to be okay all of the time. We are all just doing the best we can to get through each hour of the day. The levels of our stress will ebb and flow and regularly releasing the stress we are holding onto can make a big difference in our overall moods, happiness, and our patience levels.