Stress is something we all deal with from time to time. It’s just a part of life. But when stress is constant and exceeds moderate levels it can be a huge problem.
Stress wreaks havoc on the mind and body. It can cause big issues with your mental and physical health. Your entire well-being is put at risk when stress levels are consistently high.
With so much uncertainty in the world right now, stress is felt by nearly everyone. More people are feeling stressed than ever before and for good reason. It’s not every day a pandemic takes over the world. People are jobless, broke, lonely, sick, and dying. It feels like a bad, strange dream, doesn’t it?
Taking care of yourself during this time needs to be a priority. You might feel like it’s one more thing on the to-do list or maybe the stress has you depressed and unmotivated to do anything. But the quality of your life depends on it.
We don’t know how long and to what extent the world will continue to be impacted by this tragic mess. That’s why it’s crucial to get some stress relief tools in your tool kit to help get you through. Will the stress disappear? Likely not. But using some stress reduction techniques can help it to become manageable.
Here you will find 10 ways to help relieve stress. Dealing with stress isn’t a one size fits all so experiment with them until you find some that work for you.
Art therapy is often used to help reduce mental health symptoms, including stress. However, I’ve heard many people say spending time on art is a waste of time or only for kids – it’s absolutely not.
When you’re creating something it consumes you, which helps take your mind off of the stress you’re feeling. It also increases positive emotions because the outcome is rewarding and fun.
There many ways to practice creativity. You can try writing, painting, coloring, drawing – anything that interests you and that you enjoy!
Hands down one of the best (if not the best) stress reliever. The benefits of meditation are MIGHTY! Numerous studies have shown that meditation is effective at reducing stress (and many other mental health symptoms).
Meditation doesn’t need to take a long time. As little as 10 minutes a day can make the world of a difference. If you don’t have 10 minutes, do whatever you can. Any amount of time is better than none.
If you’re just starting out it might be helpful to try guided meditations. You can find a TON of FREE ones on YouTube. There are lots that are specific to stress relief.
I get that it might be challenging to meditate these days with everyone at home so that’s another reason guided meditation might be a good option. You can pop in some headphones to drown out the noise.
3. Get Moving
There’s no way around this one. It’s a non-negotiable on the list of ways to reduce stress. Sometimes it can be hard to motivate yourself to workout when you’re feeling stressed, but it really is the BEST medicine.
There are LOTS of ways to do this and it doesn’t need to take a long time. Even a 10-minute walk is helpful for stress relief. I guarantee once you start to feel the benefits you will want to make it a habit. If you’re already active – awesome! Keep at it!
With what’s going on in the world right now going to the gym is off the table but you can still get a good sweat on at home. I recommend checking out Fitness Blender on YouTube. They have something for all fitness levels and come out with new videos weekly. They’re my favorite when going to the gym isn’t an option.
4. Practice acceptance
Some things are out of our control and all the worry and stress in the world won’t change it. Feel your feelings. After all, you’re human. But at some point, it’s crucial to work on letting those toxic emotions go for your sanity and health.
I get what’s going on the world right now is crazy and scary but accepting what is will help. Try focusing on what is within your control, such as social distancing and hand washing.
Check out my posts on 25 Quotes to Reduce Stress. There are some helpful ones on acceptance.
5. Connect with loved ones
Being social can feel hard when you’re stressed out, but it is a huge mood booster. Not only does it take your mind off stress, but you might also get the support you need. There are countless studies showing that social support can help prevent and reduce stress.
Right now, in-person interaction isn’t possible and for many of us, COVID-19 is the most stressful thing we’ve ever experienced.
Not having the ability to have face-to-face social support during this time is likely to increase your stress levels.
The next best thing is video calls with loved ones. It’s better than nothing. Make it a priority to touch base with friends and family using video chats.
Getting adequate sleep is one of the best things you can do for your mental and physical health. Most adults need 7-8 hours per night to function at their best.
A good night’s sleep can help reduce stress and lessen other mental health symptoms. BUT the frustrating part is that catching z’s can be hard to do when stressed.
Many of us are experiencing sleepless nights these days because of extreme stress. We’re worried about our current situation and what the future will look like.
So, what can you do? Practice good sleep hygiene and be consistent with it. Watching Netflix all night isn’t going to help you. Create a soothing bedtime routine and stick with it.
Bedtime routine tips:
- Go to bed at the same time every night
- Wake up at the same time every day
- Stop screen time at least an hour before bed
- Avoid stimulants that disrupt sleep, such as coffee and nicotine
- Do something soothing (take a bath, journal, or meditate)
- If you’re lying there and absolutely can’t sleep get up and do something boring. It sounds weird but it was a recommendation from a sleep specialist I saw years ago.
Get out of bed and write out a to-do list, read something uninteresting, write out those thank you cards you’ve been meaning to send. You don’t want to do something you like because that’s stimulating. The point is to bore yourself to sleep!
Journaling is an excellent stress management tool and the mental health benefits are well-documented.
Starting a journaling practice will help you get all those jumbled, racing, unhelpful thoughts out of your head and down on paper. It’s also a powerful tool to help you shift and change stressful thoughts and release negative emotions.
When journaling be as detailed as possible about the stressful situation and your emotions about it. Don’t censor yourself, worry about being grammatical, or writing neatly. Whatever comes up for you go with it. Your journal should be a safe place and a non-judgment zone.
If you need some journaling inspiration check out my post 25 Powerful Journal Prompts for Mental Health. The prompts might be helpful during a time like this when you’re feeling stressed, anxious, and depressed.
8. Get professional help
There is absolutely NO shame in this. Stress isn’t a pull up your boot-straps kind of thing. If you need help seek it out.
If your stress reaches a point where it’s interrupting your life and feeling unmanageable it’s crucial to reach out to a trained professional.
Find a therapist you trust and feel comfortable with. They can offer support and help you come up with practical ways to cope with your stress.
With the social distancing/stay at home order in place finding a therapist you can talk to in person isn’t possible. But many therapists are using video chat therapy during this time. I get that it’s not the same but it’s worth a try if you need the support.
9. Laugh more
When is the last time you laughed so hard your stomach and face hurt? Laughter is a powerful form of medicine!
Numerous studies show the positive impact of laughter on our mental and physical health. Check out a funny movie, read a humorous book, or get together with friends that make you laugh.
With this social distancing order in place try using video chats. Grab a glass of vino and laugh with some loved ones over Zoom. It will give you a huge boost in your mood!
10. Create a routine
This is more important than ever! This stay at home order has totally disrupted our daily routines. For many of us, having a routine is what keeps us sane!
I’m extremely routine-oriented. When I fall out of my routine, I feel anxious and out of sorts. I know routines are important for many of you as well.
We all have a new normal now and it’s a hard one to accept. But, creating a new routine will help lower stress during this time.
Try getting up at the same time, do some form of a morning routine, eat lunch at the same time, schedule in self-care, etc. Do whatever routine works for you and stick to it as best as you can.
11. Practice gratitude
The benefits of gratitude are well-documented. Studies show that is has a significant positive impact on mental and physical health.
It can be difficult to practice gratitude when we’re feeling down and when everything around us seems to be going wrong. But there is always something to be grateful for.
Get into the habit of writing down 5 things you are grateful for every day. I’ve made this a habit and it has improved my mood and outlook on life.
If it’s hard to find things to be grateful for these days, here are some ideas:
- Your eyesight
- Nice weather
- Morning coffee
- Drinkable water
As you can see, there are many things to be grateful for even during a crisis.
Until next time friends! Stay safe!