The year is far from over, yet the dawn of the 2020s has already proven to be one of the most stressful periods in recent history. To date, this pandemic has claimed the lives of over one million people and brought about staggering economic damage to the global economy.
Thus, a domino effect of business closures, the shutting down of schools and other essential services has forced millions of people – particularly families – to hastily restructure their daily lives. As if life hadn’t been a kaleidoscope of rushed busyness prior to the pandemic, all of a sudden, we’ve been compelled to balance a continual juggling act of working from home while trying to care for children and, in many cases, serving as impromptu educators. For many, this has served as the source of excessive strain on both their mental and physical health and is leading to burnout.
To add insult to injury – thanks to the news being in our faces on a 24/7 basis via TV, social media, internet, or radio – we’re bombarded with alarmist broadcasts that only serve to heighten our anxiety and trepidation about not only our own future, but the frightening prospects that may lie ahead for our countries and the world itself.
If you’ve been striving to keep a cool, clear head amidst these most hectic and uncertain of times, you’re in good company. Now, while it may be impossible to completely escape the tension of the world around us, we can alleviate much of it by taking a bit of time out of the demanding game of life to unwind and slow ourselves down.
According to the American Institute on Stress, If you engage in breathing exercises for 20 to 30 minutes each day, you significantly reduce anxiety and stress. Deep breathing exercises also increase the supply of oxygen to our brains and makes us feel much calmer. It is paramount to assuage the amount of worry in our daily lives. Breathing brings awareness away from our fears and apprehensions.
Partake in some Zen remedy
Depending upon your religious beliefs, you may have reservations about practising yoga. While it is true that this ancient form of exercise does contain components that stem from the Eastern religions of Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism, putting any religious or spiritual aspects aside, simply performing the techniques is very beneficial for both physical and mental wellbeing.
In a report from Harvard Health Publishing, it is stated that yoga soothes anxiety and depression, and also has a positive effect on lowering the body’s heart rate, blood pressure, and easing the respiratory system.
Nature is medicine
Take it from me; as a freelance writer and author who spends a good portion of his time in front of a computer screen, there is no better way to clear your head than by getting out for a walk in the woods. If you live in the city and can’t drive an hour or two get into the great outdoors, urban parks (many of whom are forested) are never too far away.
Should you happen to be tasked with homeschooling your children, make nature hikes or walking around exploring local areas part of the daily curriculum. Not only will your cardiovascular system thank you, you’ll be less stressed, have a lighter mood, and be able to sleep better at night.
Disengage from technology
The late, great John Prine advised us to “Blow Up Your TV” in his hit, ‘Spanish Pipedream.’ Now, while I don’t recommend resorting to such extreme measures to block out much of the sensationalist media saturation that we all loathe, yet can’t seem to escape, limiting the amount of screen time in your daily life will greatly decrease stress and anxiety.
After you’ve completed your work for the day, put the laptop away, turn off the TV, get out for a walk, read, play a game, or do some coloring. Yes, you heard that right. Adult coloring books are a great stress buster and still get your creative juices flowing, albeit in a more relaxed manner.
Getting through these times is taxing, even for the most robust and laidback of us, but, despite our hectic and nerve-wracking our world has become, it is imperative to maintain our physical, spiritual, and emotional health.
Publishing, Harvard Health. “Yoga for Anxiety and Depression.” Harvard Health, 2020, www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression.
Marksberry, Kellie. “Take a Deep Breath.” The American Institute of Stress, 4 Jan. 2017, www.stress.org/take-a-deep-breath.
Union, European. “COVID-19 Situation Update Worldwide, as of 18 October 2020.” European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, 18 Oct. 2020, www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/geographical-distribution-2019-ncov-cases.