When my daughter was young one of her friends had a stuffed toy that, when squeezed, said “Stress: it’s a killer.” I always wondered if this is actually a child’s toy or an adult stuffed animal. Either way, the message was on point. Stress causes and/or exacerbates serious conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, depression, anxiety, personality disorders, intestinal problems, asthma, heart disease, high blood pressure, and more. This clearly makes the case that the stuffed animal was shouting so many years ago.

During this unprecedented time, people have been finding themselves more isolated, unable to work, concerned about finances and the future, becoming a teacher to their children, and fearing for their parents. Even finding food has become an event. We may not always feel the stress or know we’re under it because we’ve become so good at managing, yet it still affects us.

While you might not be able to go to the spa to get a relaxing massage, to the gym to sweat out the stress, or other ways you alleviate stress, there are things you can do at home. These simple tips, tricks, DIYs, and techniques will help melt some of the layers away.

  • Take deep breaths. While this sounds obvious, most people don’t take the time to do active belly breaths. This is especially important and helpful if you’re feeling stressed. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Put one hand over your bellybutton, and the other hand on your chest. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. Your chest should not move. 
  • Get dressed. This may also sound simple, but you’d be surprised how getting dressed, even when you’re staying at home can shift your mindset and your mood.
  • Go closet shopping. Mix and match new outfits from clothes you already have in your closet. It’s amazing what new and exciting things you can find in your own closet.
  • Utilize aromatherapy. Essential oils are caustic and should not be used daily, I use them like medicine. Now is the perfect time for their medicinal use, whether it’s putting your favorite scents in a diffuser or wafting the bottle under your nose. Citrus oils are uplifting, lavender and marjoram are calming and comforting.
  • Cook a meal and create a restaurant experience at home. Or spice it up with different cuisines from around the world. Mix it up and eat in a different place in your house.
  • Call or FaceTime with family and friends. Because we’re so physically isolated right now, we have to make an extra effort to find connection. Have a FaceTime spa night. or game night. Go for a walk with a friend while you talk on the phone. 
  • Take time for yourself. This may be especially difficult for those at home with family and kids. If you can, take turns watching the kids and make one room your sanctuary. Pamper yourself with an at-home spa.
  • If you’re at home with someone else, give each other massages or you can also give yourself a foot massage.
  • Enjoy a long, luxurious salt or bubble bath, or stock up on Epsom salts. They are inexpensive and especially great for relieving tension.
  • Up your shower game. Use a scrub, a real, handmade bar of soap, and apply body oil in the shower after you’re done soaping.
  • Smile. Even if you’re by yourself. Studies have shown that even forcing a smile can boost your mood and help reduce stress.
May 12, 2020 — Deborah Burnes