ST. GEORGE — Stress can be brought on by everyday hassles, let alone when there are larger issues like the ongoing public health concern of a pandemic. While no one’s life is completely stress-free, regular negative stress can keep us from feeling and performing our best; therefore, it is important that we learn how to manage it.
While it may seem like the coronavirus news is everywhere, one research-based technique shown to reduce stress, both short-and long-term, is simply to take a break. Taking in information about the pandemic repeatedly can be unsettling.
When you choose to step away, it gives you an opportunity to gain a new perspective or practice techniques to help you feel less stressed. Even just 20 minutes can be beneficial. Consider one of the following activities to help you de-stress.
Play or listen to music
Music can have an amazing effect on the body and mind. Faster music can make you feel more alert; upbeat music can make you feel more optimistic; slower music can quiet your mind.
Spending time outside in nature has been shown to relieve stress. If you can safely practice social distancing and are healthy, head outdoors.
Whether it’s outdoors or indoors, along with the physical benefits, research continues to show exercise can have an immediate stress-relieving effect that can last for hours.
Before you say, “But I’m not an artist,” a recent study shows that engaging in a creative activity for 45 minutes significantly relieves stress in the body, regardless of experience or talent.
Whether you’re social distancing, self-isolated or quarantined, there are many ways to stay connected with friends and family. Check-in with others over video chat, email, text or the old-fashioned ways: by talking on the phone or even writing and mailing a letter.
Many of us tend to hold stress in our face. Since our emotions and facial expressions are interconnected, laughing or smiling can relieve tension. While you can’t force laughter, you can watch your favorite funny movie, sitcom or stand-up routine.
Yoga and meditation
If you are new to yoga, now is the perfect time to take advantage of the many free online classes and reap the benefits of this stress-relieving activity at home which also provides the benefits of physical exercise.
Yoga can also be a very meditative practice. Combined with mindfulness, these practices can help the mind and body relax, gain a new perspective and develop self-compassion. If you’re new to meditation or mindfulness, consider starting with just taking deep breaths – preferably someplace quiet if you can find it. Even just focusing on one deep breath can relieve tension.
Written by EMMA PARKHURST, Utah State University Extension professional practice assistant professor.
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