Even though the majority of people are spending much more time at home, life for many hasn’t gotten any easier. On top of the normal demands that daily life brings, we’ve now added homeschooling, extra cleaning/washing, cooking and even more to the list. One thing you definitely don’t want to add more of is… stress.
Stress weakens the immune system and during this time, we want a household full of strong immune responses! We’ve curated five different activities that you and your family can adopt into your daily schedules to reduce stress and improve your overall wellness.
We’ll start with an activity you already do without having to think about it… your breath! In this previous Weekender article, we shared how to begin a meditation practice. But if you’re not ready for that yet, try out some very basic breath work. Your breath has the power to dismantle a “fight or flight” response, so your body can rest and digest.
A new breath that you may not have tried yet is called the “Alternate Nostril” breath. This is a yogic breath that lowers stress, improves cardiovascular function, increases respiratory endurance and more. Take five minutes to practice this breath. Kids will love it, too!
Sit comfortably upright. With your right hand, make a seven with your hand by straightening your pointer finger and thumb with your other fingers curled down. Relax your belly and exhale fully. Then use your right thumb to close your right nostril. Inhale through your left nostril, then close it with your right pointer finger. Release your thumb from your right nostril and exhale through your right nostril.
Inhale through the right nostril, close it, exhale through the left. Inhale through the left, close it, exhale through the right, continue for five minutes. Complete with a final exhale on the left side.
Journaling is a great tool to help you alleviate stress and anxiety. When you think of journaling, you may think of writing about the events of your day. The most healing form of journaling is to write about your values and what is most significant to you and your life. It’s recommended to complete a journal exercise twice a day… you can do it in the morning or evening. To get started, you can use these prompts that are sourced from this article about the benefits of journaling:
- Who do I want to be today?
- How do I want to show up for the important people in my life?
- What am I grateful for?
- What do I want to accomplish today?
- What actions will it take for me to accomplish this?
- Who can I help today?
- What actions can I take to help them?
If words aren’t your thing, try pictures! Coloring has also been found to help with reducing stress-levels. Adult coloring books were all the buzz a few years back and for good reason. Coloring allows you to focus on one task, which helps your mind from wandering about all there is to worry about. If you don’t have a coloring book handy, you can doodle or get the same benefits from doing a puzzle, knitting, crocheting or completing another type of craft.
There are many benefits to starting a garden and now is the perfect time to begin! Whether you want to plant garden vegetables like tomatoes or plant an array of colorful flowers, all that matters is that you’re getting outside with your hands in the dirt. Why? Regular exposure to harmless bacteria found in the soil supports a healthy immune system. Plus, you’re getting a nice dose of Vitamin D aka sunshine. If you’ve ever gardened before, you’ll also know that it’s a work out! All of these factors lead to stress reduction and an overall sense of proactive productivity.
Social Time Sans Social Media
Social media has been a wonderful way for us to stay connected during this time of social distancing. Though the negative information our brains take in while scrolling our social feeds may have more impact than we think. Negative images can activate our amygdalas, which is the part of our brain that alerts us of impending danger. This can put us in a constant state of stress, which isn’t great for our bodies or minds (but you can get out of this state by doing the breath exercise from #1).
Make sure to spend some quality time with your family or on FaceTime calls. Growing and feeding your relationships helps provide feelings of fulfillment and safety. Since many of our days are looking quite the same, this is a great opportunity to reflect and project. Share your favorite memories and also brainstorm plans you have for the brighter days to come.