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These are confusing, stressful times for all of us.
The COVID-19 pandemic is touching every aspect our society, and affecting each of us in different ways.
Feelings of anxiety and uncertainty are completely normal. But it is important to try to not let these feelings overwhelm us.
Whether you are self-isolating, staying home or still working, find time in your day to try some of these de-stressing activities to help you feel a little better about the world.
Do some gentle exercise
Walking, stretching and wading water are gentle exercises you can do to help get your endorphins flowing. You can also try these great muscle (and mind) relaxing exercises.
Strengthen your connections
For those of us in family lockdown, now is the opportunity to spend quality time with our loved ones. Take time to hug your kids or partner, look them in the eyes, have long conversations with them. These gestures all promote closeness and boost oxytocin, a hormone that bonds people and calms the body. When your oxytocin levels spike, they tell your body to switch off cortisol, the stress hormone.
Spend time with a furry friend
Yes, you have permission to hug all the dogs, cats and bunnies you wish. Petting and cuddling a fluffy friend gives you warm ‘n’ fuzzies, quite literally.
Tune into (instrumental) music
Create a playlist of the instrumental versions of songs that make you feel calm. When you’re listening, try to tune into one of instruments being played and focus your attention on it for 20 – 30 seconds. Repeat by tuning into another instrument and continue this until the song finishes. This is a type of meditative technique. You could try doing this to help ease you into sleep.
Smell a cuppa
That’s right, take a big whiff of your morning coffee or tea before you drink it. The scent of the drinks can be enough to help reduce your stress levels.
Spend time in a garden or park
Various studies speak to the benefits of being in a garden without even needing to have a green thumb. Surrounding yourself with plants has been linked to physical and mental health benefits, including slowing heart rates, improving memory and reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Complete a brainteaser
Solve a puzzle, crossword or Sudoku. The focus you devote to these brain-teasing activities can take your mind off your worries and give your brain a problem that has a clearer solution.
Get on the phone/video call with friends and family
Not having interaction with people outside your family unit can be hard, even on kiddies. Arrange a time to telephone/video call friends/family who are also locked down and share the phone around between the adults and children
Sing or dance
Whether you have a solo singing session in your lounge room or dance on your balcony, singing or dancing (or both!) to music you enjoy is a good way to unwind and boost your mood.
Salute the sun
Find a sunny spot, close your eyes and lift your face towards the sun. Take slow deep breaths. Sit calmly for 10 to 15 minutes (remember to be sun-smart if it’s a sunny day).
Write down all the things in life that you’re grateful for. Perhaps consider doing this each day. It can help keep you mind focused on being positive and give you a better outlook in the face of difficulty.
Look at photos of events you remember fondly
Dust off that old photo album or pull up your favourite snaps on your tablet. Looking at old photos from a day you enjoyed is sure to bring you joy. Better still, call someone who was at that event so you can reminisce together.
Have a warm bath, take a shower or take a dip in the ocean; getting into water can help you feel refreshed and relaxed.
Draw, colour-in, paint, knit, write, cook – do any activity that helps you express your creative flair. A great release for adults and kids.
Take a nap
Sometimes when you’re feeling stressed, the thing you need most is sleep. If your mind is still going 100 kilometres an hour after you’ve hopped into bed, put on some calming tunes or a guided meditation and put your phone on silent. Then slowly tense and release one muscle in your body at a time and drift off.
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