The Coronavirus pandemic is affecting each of us in different ways. However, the one common denominator is that our anxiety levels are off the charts. That’s because anxiety is hardwired into our collective DNA to help us deal with emergencies. But anxiety is a double-edged sword and can hurt us too so how do we keep our anxiety down to manageable levels? Below you’ll find three healthy ways to reduce your anxiety and stress in a world that seems a little out of control at the moment. We think you’ll find them enjoyable as well 😉
1. Bask in Glorious Sunlight
Just outside your window, the world is flooded with magical healing energy. Yes, it’s called sunshine! Remember when you were a kid how happy you felt just by going outdoors and feeling those warm rays of light on your face? Allow yourself to be a kid again… go ahead… you deserve it! Embrace the joy of sunbathing if only for a few minutes. Just walk outside, tilt your head back, and let Mother Nature flood you with happiness. It really doesn’t have to be more complicated than that but let’s delve a little deeper, shall we?
Sunlight triggers the brain to release a chemical called serotonin, also known as the “happy hormone,” because well, it makes us feel happy and contented. Serotonin is one of the most powerful hormones the human body, in fact, and it has a dramatic, immediate, effect on mood, memory, and physiology. Sunshine increases serotonin levels by interacting with the retinal cells in your eyes. Thus, it’s best to get at least a few minutes of sunshine in your face every day without wearing sunglasses! I know…. you’ve been taught to wear sunshades to protect your eyes from cataracts, right? Well, this is one of those situations where you can go overboard. When it comes to sunlight on your eyes and face, using moderation is the “sweet spot” you’re looking for. With more serotonin in your system, you’ll feel a lot calmer and clear-headed, exactly what you need to cope with Covid-19.
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It turns out too that if your body releases plenty of serotonin during the day, your body will automatically produce more melatonin in the evening when the sun goes down. This extra melatonin will help you fall asleep easier. Better yet, melatonin will help you get more deep sleep or what’s known as “delta sleep.” Deep sleep is when your body restores itself, including your brain, allowing you to awaken fresher and better able to handle stress. Of course, the vitamin D that your body produces when sunlight hits your skin is another way sunshine helps you reduce anxiety. In fact, scientists now below that skin cells help to regulate serotonin levels too so it’s all connected through sunlight.
During the Coronavirus crisis, do yourself a favor and make sure that you spend at least a few minutes a day basking in the glorious sunlight. If you can’t go outside, sitting by a sunny window when the sunshine is flooding in will help too. Haven’t you ever wondered why house cats seek out those sunny spots? They’re purrrrrfect for serotonin mood enhancement.
2. Pay Special Attention to Self-Care
When a stressful event occurs, it’s human nature to cast aside self-care. It hardly seems important during a crisis, right? WRONG! When you’re coping with anxiety, taking care of yourself, even pampering yourself, is one of the best coping mechanisms you can employ. Therefore, self-care is even more important during the Coronavirus pandemic!
Here are some ideas on how to take better care of yourself, even pamper yourself, to help you cope better with the Covid-19 situation:
Give yourself a manicure
All the Coronavirus experts keep reminding us to wash our hands and they always seem to add, “Remember to clean under your fingernails too.” Why not go a step further and pamper yourself with a full manicure and a spa-like experience. When you soak your fingers in warm water to loosen up those cuticles, add a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil. Take a few moments to breathe deep, let go of the stress, and really enjoy the fragrance of those oils. Aromatherapy soothes the soul! Remember too, all that hand washing, and Corvid-19 hand sanitizer can really dry out your skin. Some people are complaining about cracked skin around their knuckles. So, at the end of your manicure, liberally apply your favorite lotion. Instead of lotion, you could also use coconut oil, yes the cooking kind. It’s quite moisturizing and smells lovely too.
Give yourself a facial
Time to open up those clogged pores, smooth out the blemishes, and lose the bags under your eyes! If you don’t have a favorite homemade facial mask recipe, the Corona quarantine is a great opportunity to experiment with several to find the one you like best. Search the internet for facial mask recipes to try. There’s oatmeal, yogurt, egg, chamomile, vinegar, honey, papaya, avocado, mayonnaise, mustard, aloe vera, gelatin, banana, lemon, charcoal, milk, green tea, and many more. You’ll even find special facial mask recipes for acne, rosea, dark spots, sunspots, pimples, blackheads, and wrinkle removal! When you’re all finished, take a long look in the mirror to see the improvement. Feel your baby soft cheeks with the back of your hand. Make a special point of smiling at yourself, especially if you live alone because seeing another human smiling back at you, even your new and improved self will lift your spirits during the Coronavirus quarantine.
Condition your hair and scalp
Just because the beauty salons and barbershops are closed during the Corona outbreak doesn’t mean you can’t have fabulous hair and nourish your scalp! Take advantage of the extra time at home to mix up some homemade hair and scalp conditioners. Look online for recipes because some of the best hair and scalp conditioners you can use come directly from your kitchen with supplies you already have on hand. While you’re letting the conditioner work its magic, spend time gently massaging your scalp. If you have split ends, you can also trim your hair or ask a family member quarantining with you to trim an inch or two off the ends.
3. Give Yourself a New Project
One of the best ways to lower anxiety during the Covid-19 pandemic is to find a new way to occupy your mind. Have you lost your job? Maybe you could learn a new skill that will help you start your own business or add value to a charity you support. Perhaps there’s a practical skill you could learn that will help you get ahead at work or telecommute more efficiently. You could also do something that brings more joy into your life and happiness to your family and friends.
What to do… what to do? Let’s brainstorm:
Learn how to build a website
You can learn how to code a website from scratch or become a whiz at customizing WordPress templates. You could also dial it back a bit and just learn how to create a simple website using a service like Weebly. No matter which way you go, you’d end up with a skill you can use in all sorts of ways.
Learn how to use Zoom, Facetime, or Slack
Are you a technology dinosaur? We’ll there’s one advantage to having to adhere to a Corona quarantine order. Your friends and family may have extra time, and therefore extra patience, to help walk you through these much-used communication programs. This may also be a great opportunity to instill confidence in the kids by letting them teach you something.
Start a blog or write short stories
While many people blog for their business, you can also use blogging as a creative outlet. You could even start by blogging about how you, your family, and friends are coping with the Coronavirus epidemic. You could write a commentary on news stories you see. You could also blog about your favorite hobby or a subject you find fascinating. And… you don’t have to be a professional writer to have a very appreciative audience. Short stories about your life, or perhaps stories your grandparents told you, will be cherished by your kids and future generations forever. There are also Reddit forums where amateur writers (and professionals) share their fiction and non-fiction, an opportunity to socialize and make new friends.
Learn to cook something new
Don’t want risk catching the Coronavirus by taking extra trips to the grocery store? Learn how to make your own bread! Hint: if you like yeast bread but you don’t like the idea of kneading, try some beer bread recipes 🙂 Maybe you always wanted to learn how to make the perfect pie crust. Now’s your chance. Watch some YouTube videos and pick several recipes to try! You’ll probably have no problem getting taste testers but if you bake too many pies for you and your family, consider sharing with elderly neighbors, food banks, and homeless shelters.
Rediscover a hobby you always intended to do
Did you buy a guitar, xylophone, wooden flute, keyboard, or djembe always intending to learn how to play but never found the time? Take full advantage of the Corvid-19 stay at home order and have fun! Playing music is very therapeutic. So is learning how to knit, crochet, or embroider! All you need is some basic equipment and a good YouTube video for instruction. Of course, you could always create your own one-of-a-kind hobby! How about creating a Zen garden with all that treasure you’ve been saving from beach walks? Build a garden fence out of fallen branches? Backyard playhouse for the kids?
The Covid-19 virus has hit us all hard. It’s made us reevaluate what’s most important in our lives and that may actually turn out to be a long-lasting positive. Use this time to take care of yourself and those you hold most dear. If you do that, you’ll be better able to deal with any long-term negative effects the Coronavirus may bring as well as enjoy more fully what Corvid-19 leaves in its wake.