Last year was hard and tough. I didn’t know where it would lead us or when it would end. I had to adapt to the lockdown and to a new style of living, studying, and working. Although I was frustrated sometimes by the fact of being stuck with my family for a long time and not having my own space or time, I was grateful for being surrounded by care and love and I was so much sympathetic about the struggle of all the people who were left alone during these hard times.
Along with the lockdown and the pandemic, I was feeling unproductive. I often found myself sleeping all day, eating a lot of chocolate at night, and pushing my assignments to the last minute. All these factors drove me into a state of stress and anxiety. However, I noticed the pandemic is all over the world and I am not the only one going through those feelings. Fortunately, I was keen to find a suitable solution to cope with the situation.
Stress can become overwhelming and can take a toll on our well-being. They say “When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control how you respond to what’s happening. That’s where your power is.” Therefore, I realized I need to find simple and healthy ways to relieve my stress. So I started by searching online for ways to handle this situation and came across many different solutions. I narrowed down what I have found and realized that the ones that were mostly suitable to me were the ones that fit my lifestyle.
Each person has his own different way to cope with stress, my ways differ from my environment’s ways and from yours. Let me share with you 5 things I did and made a huge difference in managing my stress.
What did I do?
First, I started by focusing on my breath. You are going to think that we breathe all the time, so what am I talking about? In reality, we rarely pay attention to our breath. This has been referred by every psychologist and every mental health organization that deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. So when we breathe, we send a message to our brain to calm down and relax. So try it with me: Take a moment. Close your eyes. Put one hand on your abdomen, just below your belly button. Inhale deeply, for four counts. Feel your hand rise. Hold your breath for seven counts. Exhale…. for eight counts. Feel your hand fall.
Repeat it whenever you feel stressed. I guarantee you, you will calm down. It worked well with me.
While I was home, I spent a big time on technological devices. Whilst I was searching for ways to help me calm down and relax, I found out that excess usage of technology can negatively affect our mental well-being. Indeed, social media usage is a significant predictor of stress. Constant connectivity disturbs our life balance. It can distract us and disturb our sleep cycle for example. Spending all our time on technological devices causes stress and physical side effects such as eye strain or headaches.
So here comes my second strategy where I decided to go on a digital detox for two hours per day. Each day, I set a time to put away any technological device and do something else instead. What I found good as well, is to leave my phone far from me when I head to bed in order to sleep well. I didn’t completely stop using technology but believe me, taking a break and limiting my daily usage helped me improve my physical, emotional, and mental wellness.
My third way was to exercise. I usually don’t practice any sports, but I found out that exercising and nourishing our bodies have countless benefits and are essential for both our physical and mental health. Even if it’s lockdown time and I cannot go for a walk or a run, there are multiple ways to do so. I started following fitness bloggers on Youtube, and I followed the schedule they organized for lockdown exercising. I did yoga, dancing, and pilates with no equipment. Here are some of the Youtube channels that you can subscribe to:
- Chloe Ting
- Body Project
- Pamela Reif
- Evolve Functional Fitness
My fourth way was ” Talking to someone”. In my case, I talk out to an external party, I communicate with a therapist just to clear out my mind. As human beings, sometimes, we leave everything to ourselves.
What I want to say is that sometimes we feel that we have to keep our thoughts and worries to ourselves thinking that we are alone. However, finding someone we can confine to and who will listen to us, whether it was a family member, a friend or a therapist can help us clear our mind, therefore, relieve our stress. Just finding the person who will listen instead of judging will help you.
My therapist used to advise me to write my feelings and thoughts when there is no one to talk to. So my fifth way was taking a paper, writing literally all that was on my mind, then finding out what negative thoughts I have in front of me and marking them. This way I understood clearly what was happening, and I started by finding solutions to each problem. When I was done, I threw it away so I could put it behind me. This helped me gain control of my emotions. I felt like I was shouting my feelings in a silenced way, but without disturbing anyone.
Writing is therapeutic. So when you write your thoughts and worries on a paper, you will clear your mind. Once your problems are in front of you, you will separate them by importance and will be able to analyze them and respond to them in a healthy manner. You can do this on paper, in a journal diary, or even on your phone.
Remember that there is always a good solution that solves any problem. And that big problem sometimes only requires simple solutions. I believe that the days I have spent at home turned out to be an opportunity for me to come out with ways to deal with my stress. I learned about the importance of our mental well-being, the reason behind it, and how to respond to it in a healthy way. It is never too late to find your suitable ways. So go ahead and try!