This post is written in partnership with Tranquility Bedding. All opinions are my own.
It's been a crazy few months for the whole world. COVID-19 has totally upended life as we know it, and there's a lot of uncertainty about where we go from here. I have personally felt a lot of anxiety about the future, and I don't think I'm the only one staying up way too late, frantically reading news articles and entertaining the scary what if's. But stressing about our health is (ironically) terrible for our health, so I rounded up ten practical ways to reduce anxiety. These tips are all simple, inexpensive, and totally applicable under the current stay-at-home directives. I'd love to hear your tips as well. How do you deal with stress and reduce anxiety during uncertain times?
1. Write it down:
This is something I have done since I was a ten-year-old with a diary. Whether it's writing a blog post, journaling for myself, or just jotting down ideas or things I need to do, writing helps me to focus my thoughts. It also helps me to let go of whatever's making me anxious. I know that if it's written down, I don't need to keep running through that to-do list in my head! I keep a notepad on my nightstand for this reason. So many times, once I write something down, I feel free to finally fall asleep.
2. Talk to someone:
Talking to someone else is also a great way to work through your thoughts. When you keep your worries secret, you give them power. Discussing them with someone you trust can be a huge relief. Simply sharing the burden can be enough to release you from the grip of those stressors. The person you open up to may also be able to offer practical help or solid advice. And honestly, sometimes just commiserating with someone else and knowing you're not alone in your worries can make you feel better. We may not be able to get together in person right now, but we can Zoom, FaceTime, or get on a good old-fashioned phone call. Whether it's your friends, your family, or a trained professional, reach out to whoever makes you feel better.
I bet you knew this one was coming. Exercise iis a fantastic stress reliever, and it doesn't have to be an intense workout session. For some people, a long, hard run can be therapeutic. Others prefer an at-home yoga session or a brisk walk around the neighborhood. Even jumping on a trampoline or dancing with your kids can do wonders for your mood and stress levels. Whatever you prefer, just make sure to prioritize some form of exercise every day. You don't need a gym...there are tons of online workout classes you can follow, or just put on the music and make up your own routine (pushups, crunches, jumping jacks, and lunges are classics that don't require any fancy equipment). And bonus: exercise will help you sleep better at night too.
4. Try a weighted blanket:
Speaking of sleep...if you're having a hard time relaxing at night, I have found that a weighted blanket really helps me to calm down, fall asleep more quickly, and wake up feeling more rested. And it's not just beneficial at bedtime. I love my weighted blanket even when I'm just hanging out, resting on the couch (it's shown to reduce stress and anxiety). Mine is from Tranquility...they make high-quality, affordable weighted blankets that are sold online at Walmart and Target. I even saw that Walmart has them available through grocery pickups and deliveries, so you could add one to your next order (all while observing your state's stay-at-home guidelines).
5. Watch something funny:
Instead of watching the news, try watching something light-hearted that makes you laugh and forget about the heavy stuff for a while. Even better, watch a funny show while snuggled under that weighted blanket. Laughing is a healthy, positive way to improve your mood, release tension, and relieve stress.
6. Take a shower/bath:
During this time when we're not getting out of the house and seeing people, it can be tempting to skip our normal morning routine and stay in PJs all day. But while it's nice to be comfortable, skipping the shower isn't necessarily good for our mental state. When I'm feeling anxious and irritable, a hot shower can often be exactly what I need to reset my attitude and literally wash my worries away. I also love a relaxing bath...even better if it involves candles or epsom salts with relaxing scents like lavender.
7. Hug the members of your household:
We're supposed to stay six feet away from others right now...but we can hug the members of our own household! Positive physical touch is important for humans all the time--but especially when we're feeling anxious. Hugs can be a big stress relief and comfort for our kids, and it works both ways. I can personally attest to the mood-lifting powers of snuggling my babies! So, while we can't hug anyone else, make sure to hug your own family extra tight.
8. Get off technology and do something physical:
In today's world, we are on our screens so much. Even more so during this time of social distancing, when we're using technology to stay in touch with each other, work from home, and do online school. And while I'm grateful that technology enables us to do all those things, sometimes we just need to get offline and do something physical.There's something therapeutic about working with your hands, whether it's a productive activity like cleaning, painting, baking, or gardening...or just something for fun, like playing a board game, doing a puzzle, or creating an art piece.
9. Take a break from the news:
If you're feeling stressed about the current situation, you might benefit from taking a break from the news. I found myself compulsively refreshing the news on my phone, checking the latest statistics...which was only adding to my anxiety (my cuticles are proof of that). So last weekend I decided not to check the news at all, and it was so freeing. At the very least, try not to read or watch the news for an hour before bedtime so you can give your mind a chance to unwind and process.
10. Get outside:
This last tip is my favorite. The weather here in Spokane has been beautiful the last few days (sunny and in the high 60s!) so we have been getting out in our yard and going for neighborhood walks every day. Seeing the blossoming trees, budding flowers, and other signs of spring give me hope and encouragement that better days are ahead. If possible, get outside. Even if that just means stepping out on your deck or opening a window to get some fresh air and feel the sunshine on your face.