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I know what you’re thinking. Being stuck at home can be stressful in itself. I should know, I’ve had my fair share of stressful situations since April this year. You may be wondering whether there are really methods to reduce stress while stuck in a stressful situation?
Whether you work from home, are recovering from an illness or surgery, or any other reason, if you are stuck at home you may find yourself feeling stressed and depressed.
If you’re struggling with these feelings, you’ll be pleased to discover that there are many things you can do to help reduce your stress, uplift your mood, and increase your productivity on important tasks.
Grab your FREE checklist (with three bonus stress-relieving tips) that you can refer to whenever you feel like stressful feelings are getting the best of you. Just run down this list and try the activities until you start to feel better.
Disclaimer: This information is intended for educational and reference purposes only. Use of this information is entirely at your own risk. Should you have any health concerns, please consult your Doctor or another relevant professional.
Methods to reduce stress while stuck at home:
Get some exercise
Physical activities produce endorphins, which is a natural painkiller. Exercise also reduces fatigue, improves alertness and concentration, and enhances overall cognitive function. It also enhances your sleep quality.
I’ve been enjoying exercise more lately, thanks to a number of exercise classes I found online. Kukuwa Fitness is the first exercise I’ve been able to do in a long while that hasn’t left my knees begging for pain medication afterwards, followed by Afrifitness, another African dance-based workout. I also recently started yoga and enjoy doing yoga exercises on PsycheTruth’s YouTube channel. Who knew yoga could help with weight loss? Seasoned yogis most probably knew this, thousands of years ago, but I’m kinda late to the game!
I don’t know whether my pain-free knees after working out are as a result of now working out bare feet, or whether the Highest Power sent some healing my way (I believe it’s the latter), but I’m loving it! Don’t get it twisted though, these workouts are not easy, and you will sweat!
Light a scented candle
Certain scents can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Lavender, sandalwood, ylang-ylang, and geranium have all been shown to offer these benefits.
Scented candles have been used for centuries to promote healing. They have been used for meditation and relaxation and scented candles have been proven to transform the mood.
The smell of the scented candle stimulates the part of the brain that affects mood and memory. This means that depending on the scent things such as boosting energy relieving stress or enhancing mental clarity can be achieved.
Even psychotherapists have adopted the use of scented candles to enhance the services provided to their clients.
Scents such as lavender, orange, lemon, apple, sandalwood, and vanilla work to boost mood and reduce stress. Apple especially works to control anxiety.
Reduce your caffeine intake
Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea, and energy drinks. It can also cause anxiety in high doses. If you experience symptoms such as jitteriness or anxiety, consider cutting back on your intake.
Taking high levels of caffeine can cause loss of sleep and stimulate the fight or flight response, and these can increase anxiety. Caffeine in itself doesn’t cause anxiety but it can worsen symptoms.
I’m sure you’ve heard the term, everything in moderation. A little caffeine won’t hurt. How much is a little? That’s a million-dollar question. Please seek advice from your health professional, to ascertain how much is best for you.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love my tea, caffeine and all! I used to have four cups of tea every day but I have significantly cut it down to one cup. Sometimes I don’t have any tea at all. Now that’s progress!
Chew some gum
Chewing gum when you’re stressed has been found to help reduce anxiety. Studies show that chewing gum reduces stress, depression, and anxiety. At the very least chewing gum helps with relaxation.
When you chew gum, you will experience greater blood flow to your brain. Doing this can cause brain waves to occur that are similar to those experienced by relaxed people.
*Please don’t buy a packet of gum in place of going to see your doctor! Please and thank you!
Spend more time with family and friends
Your family and friends can offer you support in times of need, so it’s important that you keep them close to you. Research has found that spending time with friends can help release oxytocin, which helps to relieve stress.
Thanks to technology you can video-call your friends and family and it can be almost as if you are all in the same room. Many people have friends and family that live abroad or far away from them, and technology can help keep them closer. Talking to people who care about you can help improve your mental health.
Spending some time out of your day to laugh can go a long way to relieving stress. It helps to relieve tension by relaxing your muscles and can also strengthen your immune system and uplift your mood.
Laughing can boost your immune system by releasing antibodies which fight infection, and neuropeptides that help fight stress. It can reduce stress and have a positive effect on both your physical and mental health.
The act of laughing causes you to take in more oxygen and oxygen is vital for the cells and organs in the body. When you laugh endorphins are released, which reduce the negative effects of stress and leads to lower blood pressure.
Laughing will improve your mood. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen or known of anyone who can laugh and be angry at the same time. Have you?
If you put off doing important tasks, you could find yourself getting stressed and having to scramble to complete those tasks before the deadline. Instead of trying to multitask, make a list of your tasks and do them in order of importance. You’ll reduce stress and enjoy greater productivity.
Procrastination has negative impacts because it leads to poor performance, stress, anxiety, worry, guilt, and potentially physical health problems.
Procrastination is a lose-lose situation. You may find temporary relief from stress, but the long term costs far outweigh any short term comfort.
Dr. Neil Fiore ph.D in his book The Now Habit, states that the way you talk to yourself will help you to change your procrastination habits. This is not because a change in language alone will end all procrastination, but because how you talk to yourself represents the attitudes and beliefs that determine how you feel and act.
This is why affirmations are so powerful. You can choose to reinforce positive feelings of power and overcoming.
Rather than looking at your task as a monolith, break it down into small tasks. Rather than telling yourself that you have to, or should do certain tasks, you tell yourself that you choose to.
- Replace “I have to do the washing up” with “I choose to do the washing up.”
- Replace “Redecorating my house is such a huge task” with “I can paint one small area at a time.”
Whether you take a yoga class or try some self-meditation, if you practice mindfulness and focus on the present rather than the past or future, you’ll see a reduction in anxiety.
Arguably the most famous person to walk on earth said
“Do not worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Jesus Christ
Worry is a natural reaction to life’s happenings such as relationship, family, work and financial issues. The automatic response may be to frantically do things to rectify things, however, mindfulness requires a state of being.
Mindfulness allows you to become more aware of your thoughts. It allows you to focus on the present so that rather than just seeing the negative consequences of feeling stressed, it would enable you to seek positive solutions to the stressor.
“Search your heart and see. The way to do is to be.” Lao Tzu
Listen to relaxing music
Certain types of music can lower your blood pressure and heart rate and may help to reduce stress hormones too. Slow-paced instrumental music works well, but classical, Celtic, Native American, and Indian music can also be soothing.
Researchers at Stanford University found that rhythmic music may have some positive neurological effects, on conditions such as depression. Slow beats were found to encourage the slow brainwaves that are associated with hypnotic or meditative states.
A search for “meditation music” on YouTube results in an array of relaxing music. Some of them are that soothing that they can put you to sleep. Some may just relax your brain and body enough for you to regain some energy to plod along.
Just because something is labelled as meditative doesn’t mean it will remove your stress. It’s really up to you what kind of music would relax you and relieve your stress.
Practice deep breathing
The aim of deep breathing is to slow your breathing and make it deeper. This process will bring more oxygen to your body’s cells, relax your muscles, slow your heart rate, and leave you feeling more peaceful and relaxed.
Deep breathing is the more natural way for us to breathe. As we inhale, our lungs fill with air and our lower bellies rise. This encourages gas exchange, which is the transfer of oxygen from our lungs into our bloodstream, and the elimination of carbon dioxide from our bloodstream into our lungs.
Not breathing deeply – shallow breathing – leaves more carbon dioxide in the body which can cause symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, high blood pressure, dizziness, and the inability to concentrate or think clearly.
A simple yet effective method of breathing is to sit in a quiet place and breathe in through your nose for four seconds, holding for seven seconds, and breathing out through your mouth for eight seconds. Repeat this up to four times.
Create a schedule
Creating a daily schedule or to-do list is a great method of reducing stress. Let’s face it, LaRona and lockdown mean that there’s often no difference between work life and family life for a lot of those of us working from home. With a schedule, you are less likely to procrastinate, live and work in a disorganised environment, or haphazardly complete assignments.
Schedules do not always have to be set in stone. They can be adjusted to make room for additional tasks or tasks that take a longer or shorter amount of time to accomplish than what was originally planned.
You can start with a short schedule of tasks without cramming many things to do in one day. A short list of the three most important things to accomplish each day is sufficient to relieve stress and change your life for the better.
Spend time with your pet
Or get one if you don’t have one…
I don’t have a pet, but I did when I was younger. Actually, we had quite a number of dogs and a couple of cats, who had ample room to roam freely in our gated compound in Nigeria. Space permitting, one day I will buy a dog! My girls would love a Cavapoo breed, and I’m sold on the idea! I digress.
Stroking your pet can build trust and reduce stress by improving mood and health. Pets are especially beneficial for keeping you active. While you may not have the motivation to get up and exercise, having a dog could encourage you to get some exercise and fresh air when you walk the dog.
One study found that University students, who are normally reported to have high levels of stress, had lower salivary cortisol levels after 10 minutes of petting cats and dogs. Cortisol is a hormone that is released in response to stress.
Compared to those who merely observed, watched still images of the animals, and waited without external stimuli, these results suggest petting animals may provide effective stress relief.
When you interact with a pet, your body releases oxytocin, a chemical that uplifts your mood. Plus, having a pet will give you a purpose, and provide you with companionship – which all can reduce stress.
While stress can easily occur at home, there are plenty of methods to reduce stress you could try out. These are just a few. Make a habit of practising these whenever you feel stressed, and soon you’ll find that you can subdue it just as easily as it arises.
What tips do you have that have helped you relieve stress whilst you’ve been at home?
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Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share with a friend, and stay uplifted.