These are, of course, unprecedented times. We are in the midst of a global pandemic, a social revolution, economic upheaval, and loads of uncertainty about what the next few months will bring. Even without these circumstances, our modern world is a breeding ground for daily stress. The worries of today are more nuanced, complex, and plentiful than ever before. Not to stress you out or anything.
While a lot of us rely on vices to cheer us up, perhaps a literal chill pill or two, some types of stresses come far too often to justify our vices as healthy or sustainable. We’ve put together a handful of soothing activities that can slow our heart rate, deepen our breaths, and calm our minds, whether it’s to face the day or a much-needed night of restorative rest.
If you thought coloring in the lines (or outside—your coloring book, your rules!) was just for kids, you thought wrong. Coloring books offer a special kind of zen, allowing you to feel a sense of creativity and purpose, while also entering a somewhat meditative state. The activity is so relaxing, there is a high demand for them in cancer wards for patients undergoing chemoradiotherapy under immense duress.
Even if we don’t have a green thumb or a large outdoor space, finding a way to connect with our earth, plants, and sources of food is a very effective way to anchor our minds. Even planting seeds indoors, like in recycled egg cartons to sprout seedlings for transplanting or gifting, allows us to get our hands in the dirt and ourselves out of our own minds. Joining a community garden has serious benefits, too, like increased physical activity, a connection to the neighborhood, and improved nutrition.
For some, a seriously sweaty workout is a great way to blow off some steam. But if chronic stress is more the concern rather than an anxious moment or two, high-intensity workouts can have the opposite effect. Intense workouts can increase cortisol, making anxiety worse. If you’re having an anxious moment that makes you feel pent up, try a quick burst of movement, like 50 jump-rope skips, 20 jumping jacks, 10 crunches, or dancing like no one’s watching to one song. It’ll relieve some pressure without adding to the problem.
In order to get grounded, we have to put our feet on the ground. We don’t tend to realize how much time we spend disconnected from the earth in a very literal way. We go from our hardwood floors to cement sidewalks to asphalt to the car to another tiled surface and back, repeatedly. Find somewhere in nature, whether the forest or simply a lawn or a park, and take your shoes off. The energetic connection from our bodies to the earth has been shown to lower blood pressure almost instantaneously.
Studies show that massaging the scalp has significant effects on cortisol levels and heart rate, not to mention it feels really freaking good. Don’t just wait for your next hair appointment (because who knows when that will be). DIY your own scalp massage, whenever, wherever! Up your game by massaging some scalp-nourishing oils like jojoba or coconut in before your shower, or massage while in the shower, or just anytime you feel anxiety taking over. Ahhh.
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