Stress has always been part of our lives, as well as stress-relieving habits. These days, the coronavirus pandemic caused so many uncertainties that usually breed anxiety.
But our real goal is not to avoid stressors. Rather, it is surviving and being resilient once we face them. The key to resilience is being kind first to ourselves, then to others. If we lack kindness, we become more stressed.
To survive this quarantine, here are some habits of kindness we can do to relieve stress.
1. Listen to Yourself and Meditate
Our fast-paced culture wired us to be strong and positive. We often dismiss negative thoughts because they seem to waste our time. But the coronavirus quarantine tends to slow everything down. No more overtimes and long commutes.
In times of isolation, we may feel deprived of people who will listen to us. This could be the right time to ask ourselves, “How are you?” This time do not invalidate your thoughts and feelings. Forget about what society tells you should feel and think.
During this pandemic, most people feel anxious and fearful. We suddenly lost lives, loved ones, jobs, momentous occasions, and a sense of purpose. Please know these feelings are normal. It is healthier acknowledging and grieving over these losses than denying them.
Clinical psychologist Margarita Tartakovsky shared tips on listening to ourselves as one of the stress-relieving habits. First, we check ourselves for feelings and physical symptoms. Second, we can journal, which helps us keep track of patterns. Third, we can set reminders to check ourselves. Lastly, we can process our thoughts and emotions with a therapist online.
As you listen and meditate, incorporate this 4-7-8 breathing technique. Inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and release it for eight seconds.
2. Talk to Yourself
This could be like the first point, but this time, you will respond after listening. Positive self-talk decreases stress.
You don’t have to deny your negative emotions. Instead, you could focus on the bright side despite challenges and difficulties.
What are you grateful for? What makes you certain these days? They could be your family, surroundings, or God. Identify and verbalize them to remind yourself of your current situation.
3. Create a Less Stressful Routine by Slowing Down and Taking Breaks
The coronavirus quarantine stripped off our sense of time. A day feels the same as the other. Our body clocks get disrupted.
Routines give us a sense of control. We cannot control the rise and fall of the coronavirus cases. But, we can still continue with our lives inside our homes.
Plan your day ahead. You don’t need a long to-do list. One task each day is enough.
If a task feels overwhelming, break it to smaller parts that are easier to do. This helps you avoid the agony of unfinished business. Your sense of fulfillment increases with more tasks that you finish.
Strike a balance in plotting out your routine during the coronavirus quarantine. Diversify your activities to improve your physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual aspects.
Balance also means changing environments. Work at your working space, rest on the couch and eat at your dining area.
One of the stress-relieving habits is looking at your calendar one day at a time. Otherwise, you would put too much focus on the things you might not do.
Some people don’t like doing the same things everyday. Incorporate long breaks in your schedule aside from going to bed. You could also set aside a single day where you will deviate from your routine.
4. Fast from News and Social Media
Staying at home means having more time watching TV or using social media. There is nothing wrong with knowing, but too much news can cause you anxiety.
You become more exposed to the different rants and opinions of your friends. If you can’t handle them well, they could overwhelm you and add up to your stress.
If you want to stay informed, set time boundaries. You could pick times to watch and read the news either in the morning or at night. You can also use your phone for specific periods in the day.
Get information from legitimate sources, such as the government and media companies. Having the right information gives you confidence in doing precautionary practices. Proper knowledge helps you gain control over your fears and anxieties.
5. As You Put Down Your Phone, Unwind and Learn Something New
What are the things you’ve been longing to do? What do you want to learn during the quarantine? Grab this chance to unwind from work.
Read those books you bought five years ago. Watch the TV series you’ve been putting off. Follow a workout routine you enjoy. Sleep for extended hours. Whatever happens, avoid boredom and keep your mind active.
You could also learn different skills and stress-relieving habits. Cook. Play instruments. Speak another language. Enroll in online dance classes. Try jumping rope.
There are many free resources available online. You only need to keep an eye on them. And of course, be open to new ideas. Don’t be afraid to start over again and make mistakes.
6. Talk to Your Family and Friends
Abstaining from social media doesn’t mean isolating from family and friends. Developers already improved messaging apps to help you connect with your loved ones.
Some people stay with their families, and that’s comforting. But some live alone and usually struggle with loneliness.
Listening to yourself is helpful, but having others hear your stories is comforting. You need to feel that you are not struggling alone.
Don’t forget to listen to them, as well. You can also find comfort from the stories of other people. Listening to others gives you a sense of purpose that you were able to help someone.
How can you listen well? You may not meet them face to face, but your friends and family feel if you genuinely care for them. Listening to others enables you to extend compassion.
Active listening involves the SOLER method. It stands for sitting squarely, being open, leaning forward, maintaining eye contact, and relaxing. But you can change this method since you meet each other through the screen.
The most crucial factors while communicating, are your eye contact and tone of voice. Pay attention to what they say. Avoid formulating a response while they are sharing. The goal here is to comfort each other. Sometimes, you don’t need words to express care. Your compassionate gaze reveals what you feel for them.
You can also reach out to old friends. Your simple “how are you” could mean a lot to them.
Communication isn’t limited to emails, chats, and video calls. Who says you can’t go back to traditional ways? Send your loved ones handwritten letters, if possible, because nothing beats its authenticity.
7. Organize, Sort, and Clean
Can you stay at home all day with clutter? If not, this is the best time to wipe all those dusts away.
For some, cleaning has become one of the therapeutic, stress-relieving habits. It brings satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. A clean area reduces stress and eyesore.
But you don’t have to do it all at once. Because the clutter and chaos will add up to your stress. Instead, you can add this to your routine regularly. Divide your plan according to the parts of your house. You can start with your bedroom today, then the kitchen after a few days. Prepare boxes for items that you will keep, throw, sell, or donate.
You will surprise yourself to find stuff you were looking for years. And sometimes, those things bring nostalgic memories.
8. Be Creative and Produce Something
Although this could be like unwinding, an end-product makes a difference. Creation could be a write-up, a drawing, a dish, a video, a song rendition, a dance number, or a cross-stitch.
These creative stress-relieving habits help you express yourself. Coloring helps your mind relax from reality while creating something beautiful. The up-and-down strokes help you meditate. Crocheting becomes the easier version of knitting. Completing a puzzle feels like finishing a masterpiece. Cooking satisfies not only the eyes but also the taste buds and your soul. Writing connects your mind and heart to reality and to others.
You are not only creating an end-product, but you are also creating a difference you might not even notice.
9. Reward Yourself
Routines are important. Productivity is a priority. Some goals are non-negotiable.
But we often sacrificed our own pleasure and happiness before the coronavirus pandemic.
Feeling satisfied is not a bad thing. Satisfaction keeps you motivated to do better.
As we stay in our own homes, this is the time we reward ourselves for all our hard work. Eat your comfort food. Watch your favorite show. Play video games. Have a small glass of wine. Sleeping for longer hours.
If you are a fitness junkie, you may feel a little bit of guilt for cheating on your diet. But, the more you deprive, the more you will indulge yourself with an unhealthy amount.
Take everything in moderation.
Work towards these healthy indulgences as rewards. Make sure no one gets hurt, and your indulgence doesn’t take a toll on your health.
10. Be One With Nature
Gardening brings nature closer to your home and helps the environment reduce pollution. It has certain benefits that can lower your stress levels.
As one of the conventional stress-relieving habits, gardening helps you burn more calories. It keeps your blood pressure low. You also get exposed to sunlight, which is an excellent source of vitamin D. You have healthier food choices. It challenges your creativity. You look forward to something and increases your sense of purpose.
Stress-Relieving Habits are Only Means to a Greater End
The coronavirus quarantine taught us to prioritize our needs over our wants (being productive, earning more, travelling, etc.). We realize the things that matter: our safety, health, and relationships.
Our first-hand experiences help us understand what others are going through. Unique experiences unite us; our compassion maintains our sense of purpose.
Let’s not waste the stress we felt. Look forward to the new normal with prepared minds and resilient hearts. Live the life God gave you for Him alone. 🙂