Updated: May 27, 2020
The global pandemic we’re experiencing is an insanely stressful time.
Whether it’s related to job loss, reduced wages, providing full-time child care, being a single parent, lacking motivation, spiked anxiety levels, depression, poor family situation etc. You are not alone. We are all struggling. Our stories may be different but our feelings are the same.
No matter your current home situation, we could all benefit from a little more peace and serenity in our lives. Below are some of my go-to’s when it comes to stress reduction. As with everything, take what you need and leave the rest:
Chaos to Calm:
1. Meditation: The simple act of sitting in quiet stillness can do wonders for stress reduction. The relaxation induced by meditation helps to stabilize the autonomic nervous system and create calm in the body. Here’s a few other handy reasons to get into zen-mode:
Promotes emotional health
Lengthens attention span
May reduce age-related memory loss
Can generate kindness
May help fight addiction
Helps control pain
Can decrease blood pressure
Find yourself a free guided meditation online, stare into a candle flame or simply close your eyes. Perhaps start with a five-minute timer on your phone and gradually build up.
2. Supplements: When our bodies become depleted, the traditional Western diet doesn’t include many of the necessary vitamins and minerals to get us back to baseline. Supplementation is an incredible way to build immunity, lower stress and create more homeostasis within our overworked systems.
Rhodiola Rosea: Adaptogenic herb that has been shown to improve symptoms associated with chronic fatigue and stress-related burnout.
Melatonin: Supplementing with melatonin may help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer if you have difficulties falling asleep related to stress.
Glycine: The calming effects of glycine have been shown to improve sleep quality and feelings of alertness and focus.
Ashwagandha: The adaptogenic properties of ashwagandha have been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as lower morning cortisol levels.
L-theanine: Natural component of tea leaves that has been shown to reduce stress and promote relaxation.
B-Complex: The eight B vitamins, collectively known as B complex vitamins, may improve mood and reduce stress by either lowering homocysteine levels or maintaining healthy levels of this amino acid.
Kava: Kava has traditionally been consumed as a ceremonial beverage. Studies suggest that it may alleviate anxiety via its calming effects, but more research is needed.
As with anything related to supplementation, be sure to speak with your health care professional prior to starting any new routine.
3. Have a bath: There is nothing more incredible than slipping into a hot bath with some soft music and a few candles. Add in some epsom salts and lavender oil and you’ve got yourself an instant remedy for combating the daily dreads.
4. Yoga: It’s no secret that exercise reduces stress. Yoga is my favorite way to unwind as it combines physical poses, controlled breathing, and meditation or relaxation. Not only does it help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and lower your heart rate, it also gets energy flowing in your body and calms a scattered mind. Check out an online yin, hatha or slow flow class and notice the instant calm a class can create.
5. Let go of what you cannot control: Oftentimes this is the hardest thing to master. Worry is like a rocking chair; it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere. How often is what you’re stressing over in your control? Is it a future situation that you’re playing out in your mind? How often do our worries play out the way we envision? The answer is never. That “ah-ha” moment for me was realizing that most things are out of my control and letting them consume my thoughts was useless. Instead, I began to question my stress and worry as follows:
Question: Is my current worry relevant/accurate/true?
If the answer is YES: Can I do anything to change the outcome?
Solution: Come up with an immediate solution to the problem.
If the answer is NO: Let it go.
It’s as simple and complicated as that. If you can control or change a situation, take action. If it’s something you can’t control, put it on the back burner.
6. Journal: Writing down the things that stress you out is an incredibly therapeutic tool for stress reduction. Not only does unloading your anger, anxiety and fears feel cathartic, it also offloads the thoughts onto paper. Naming your stress is an excellent way to release it. This doesn’t mean the stress disappears but it offers you the creative expression to release yourself from the burden of carrying around such a heavy load. Anytime an unpleasant thought arises, write it down. Name it and feel it. Then let it go. The more often you get into the habit, the quicker you will become at shaking the unpleasant or stressful emotions associated with that feeling.
7. Get Creative: In the past, I’ve beat myself up for taking pictures when I should have been working. The guilt of wasted time. When I shifted my mentality around my creativity, everything changed. Self-expression allows me to de-stress and reset. My mantra has become, “I love myself enough to create.” Giving myself permission to get into my creative flow without the nagging feeling of what I “should” be doing instead has had the double effect of making me more productive when I am working as well as allowing my mind and body to relax. Take time each day to explore your creative side. This will do wonders for your mental state as well as create a sense of calm within your body.
8. Connect with friends: Isolation has put restrictions on contact but it hasn’t limited our ability to connect. Talking to friends (be it at a distance, through text, phone or FaceTime) is an incredible way to de-stress. Socialization increases a hormone that decreases anxiety levels and makes us feel more confident in our ability to cope with stressors. It’s also an incredible way to share your experiences and feel the love and support that resides in your life.
9. Therapy: Many practices have pivoted online to offer support from a distance. Having an unbiased ear to listen or offer insight is an incredible way to unload festering feelings of stress or frustration. If money is an issue, inquire about sliding scale options as a way to make appointment costs fit your budget.
10. Essential oils: Just one drop of the right oil can instantly shift your mood. Look for 100% pure therapeutic grade oil and add a few drops into a diffuser to create instant calm. Below are some of my favourites:
Lavender Essential Oil: Proven to restore the nervous system by lowering blood pressure and heart rate. It can help to calm the nerves, appease restlessness and improve sleep quality.
Rose Essential Oil: Renowned for soothing emotions, headaches and balancing hormones. Rose is known for strengthening the heart in periods of high stress, grief, and depression.
Ylang Ylang Essential Oil: Simultaneously reduces heart rate, improves mood and promotes relaxation. It can help release negative emotions, reduce stress and act as a natural remedy for anxiety and depression.
Bergamot Essential Oil: Effective antidepressant due to its mood enhancing qualities, promoting feelings of joy, freshness and energy.
German Chamomile Essential Oil: Promotes inner calm, reduces anxiety and calms the nervous system. It can also be used to reduce inflammation of the digestive tract, regulating mood and stress levels.
While stress is an inevitable part of the human experience, living with chronic fatigue and burnout is not. Now more than ever before, it is imperative that we take our health (mental, physical, emotional and spiritual) into our own hands. You can’t show up for others if you don’t show up for yourself. Take rest when you need it, be kind in your speech, make time for relaxation and ask for help when the demands become too much. Most importantly, love yourself. Stay safe. Stay well.
In Love and Light,