Stress Management: 5 Tips for an Easier Life
Managing Stress to Support Immunity
By Ashley Gish
Stress is a very normal part of life, but if it goes on too long it can start to take a serious toll on your health. The world is collectively going through some strange and difficult times. Everything feels full of unknowns and uncertainty. But, the good and the bad of hard times are that they force us to reevaluate nearly everything we thought we knew.
Some of us are mourning the loss of a daily routine and others are just trying to navigate their “new normal.” While it is important to allow yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling, it’s also important to find ways to manage these feelings. Let yourself feel deeply and then keep on moving through it.
The following are some of my favorite ways of stress management, now and always.
Seriously. The benefits of sleep cannot be overstated. Just like eating well and exercise play an important role in maintaining a strong immune system, quality sleep plays an important role in how well our bodies are able to fight off infections.
Everybody is different, but ideally most of us should aim for seven to eight hours a night. Minimize caffeine, create a relaxing bedtime routine: light stretching, write out the next days to-do list, read a book, turn off your phone, whatever feels helpful for you just make sure you give yourself enough time to wind down before getting into bed and try to go to bed and wake up at the same time daily.
During times of stress it can be tempting to check out and do nothing but binge watch your favorite Netflix series. This may help you feel better in the moment, but long term is probably not your best strategy.
While now is probably not the time to be overexerting yourself or start training for an ironman (remember even good stress can be perceived as stress by the body), it is the perfect time to spend 30-60 minutes a day reconnecting with your body and walking in nature.
I don’t know about you, but this sunny weather is giving me life! While this may not be accessible for everyone, if you are able to get outside I’d highly recommend it. As much research as there is to support the many benefits of exercise, the way to supercharge those benefits is by taking it outside. Now may also be the perfect time to take up gardening. Even just 10-15 minutes of sitting outside with the sun on your face, or putting your feet in the dirt can have a huge impact on your mental and physical well-being.
Yoga is one of the best ways I know to reconnect with your body and calm your mind. Yin yoga is a slower paced practice that can be particularly helpful during times of stress. However, some days I need a little more movement in order to quiet my mind and find that a powerful flow practice is more helpful. Find whatever works for you and do that. There are so many incredible instructors and studios sharing their talents online at the moment. Feel free to reach out for recommendations.
Mindfulness meditation is another favorite tool to manage stress. If there has ever been a time to take up a meditation practice, it is now. Remember, there’s no such thing as being “bad at meditation.” It’s called a practice for a reason. One easy way to get started is by using an app, Headspace and 10 percent happier are two of my favorites.
STOP is another great way to inject a bit of mindfulness into your day. It is an easy technique that takes less than 30 seconds and can be done virtually anywhere.
S-STOP what you’re doing.
T-TAKE a few deep breaths.
O-OBSERVE what is going on in your body.
P-PROCEED with mindful awareness.
Practice physical not social distancing. Socializing may not be the same as it was a just a few weeks ago, but that doesn’t mean we need to isolate ourselves from friends and family.
While I would definitely advocate taking a break from the news and Instagram if it is contributing to your stress levels, technology can also be a powerful tool for staying connected. Virtual dance parties and happy hours with friends can be just the boost you need. Go for a walk while talking to a friend or FaceTime with family. Get creative. Whatever you choose, please remember in the hard moments that you are not alone and nothing lasts forever, even COVID-19. Stay well friends!
If you feel like you could use a little more support, please reach out to your provider or a mental health professional who can help you find more effective ways to cope.
Learn the latest about COVID-19 here.