Feeling stressed when the world seems to be upside-down is fairly normal for most of us. Suddenly simple tasks that we normally don’t think too much of are now at the forefront of our minds. Like; did I wash my hands before opening that door? Oh crap, I just touched my face! If you didn’t have OCD before this outbreak then there’s a high chance you do now!
My anxiety craves the normality that I’m so used to, the routines, the predictability of each day. I’m also not great with sudden change, hubby isn’t allowed to invite anyone over without at least 24 hours notice otherwise I might just have a mini-meltdown! Not knowing what’s going to transpire from day-to-day and knowing that I can’t easily escape the house is uncomfortable. I’m also aware that my wellbeing and emotional resilience are essential during this time, and I can’t drop the ball!
To help encourage a positive frame of mind in all of us, I thought it might be valuable to explore some simple ways that we can all practice self-care with 8 calming activities.
Reduce Stress Using These 8 Calming Practices
1. Soak the stress away.
It’s pretty easy to sink into bad habits when we aren’t in our normal 9-5 routine anymore and normal practices can sort of go out the window. However, it’s super important that we maintain good hygiene habits during isolation (someone please tell my kids!) a lovely relaxing way to do this is to soak in a salt bath. Studies have shown that Magnesium Flakes may help with feelings of anxiety (source) and Epsom Salts promote better sleep quality. Mix them together and soak that stress away, or mix up your own calming bath salt concoction like this Calendula and Pink Himalayan Bath Salts recipe that also has a splash of lavender in it.
2. There’s an oil for that.
Scents are so powerful, and it’s our olfactory nerve that gives us our sense of smell, it’s directly connected to the brain and sends signals to the limbic system and amygdala which are in charge of our memory, mood, and emotions (wow)! So certain aromas are a trigger, for me, the scent of Daphne reminds me of the house I grew up in, because we had a large bush of it outside my bedroom window, in the summer I would open my window and the scent would come rushing in, so I always get a smile on my face when I smell it because it takes me back to that time and place. Studies have shown that the aroma of certain essential oils can relieve stress, help you to relax and get a better night’s sleep. Try diffusing some of these oils Lavender, Lemon, Bergamot, Ylang Ylang, Clary sage and Jasmine for their calming properties, or you could use Lavender Floral Water as a room spray, and spray some on your pillow before bed.
3. Drink your way to calm.
Put the kettle on and drink your way to calm with a cup of oh-so-comforting warm herbal tea. Tea’s like Chamomile, Peppermint and Green Tea can reduce stress, irritability, anxiety, and aid in getting a good night’s sleep. Or you could try a comforting blend like this one from Love Tea, which is specifically designed for optimum therapeutic benefits using valerian root, licorice root, spearmint, chamomile, passionflower, and lavender that supports the nervous system and helps you to keep calm and carry on.
4. Set the mood with candles.
Just like with essential oils, the aroma of a burning candle or wax melts can lift your mood and instantly relax you. I don’t know about you, but for me, there’s something comforting about a flickering flame, for months I would light a little candle for the baby girl we lost, and it really helped me to relax and stay calm through that difficult time… as if I felt like she was with me.
Most candles are made from paraffin (a petrochemical and a non-renewable and polluting resource) so my go-to candles are always made from beeswax, and also because they just smell so delicious! Not only do they release their sweet honey aroma in your home, but they also burn brighter, cleaner, and longer than any other candle and emits no harmful substances into your air. In fact, it produces negative ions when burned which facilitates the elimination of airborne pollutants and promotes the overall health of the body and mind. If you’re looking for quality Australian made beeswax candles, I wouldn’t look past Queen B, their candles are made from the highest quality beeswax that emits a natural light honey aroma when burning, and with each one sold you are helping to support Australian bees and their beekeepers. Now that’s a pretty feel-good vibe worth spending money on!
5. You can’t please everyone, but chocolate can!
Introducing some dark chocolate into your diet may help you chill due to its stress-reducing antioxidants… can I get an amen! These wonderful calming antioxidants can sometimes allow you to better adjust to stressful situations, I know from personal experience, that sometimes I just need to escape from reality, into my room with the door shut so I can have a few bites in peace (without having to share it all with small children!) One particular study showed that people who consumed 74% dark chocolate twice a day for a two week period had improved levels of stress hormones that are commonly associated with anxiety (source), that’s a good enough excuse for me to continue my “healthy” habit (all in moderation people!).
Bennetto Chocolate is made in conjunction with the Acopagro Fair Trade cooperative who supports education, opportunities for women, and reforestation in the Amazon, while perfect growing conditions produce a vibrant and naturally-fruity organic cocoa. They offer a wide range of delicious dark chocolate bar options to suit everyone’s pallet from coconut to coffee, view the range here.
6. Extra-fries… sorry I mean exercise
It’s a pretty well-known fact that exercise releases all those feel-good chemicals throughout the body, benefiting both our mental and physical health, this naturally helps you to feel more relaxed. When you increase your heart rate your body releases endorphins that make you feel good without any nasty side effects. Even if you’re not feeling up to a full-on body workout, a simple 30min brisk walk can improve self-esteem, mood and sleep quality. It doesn’t have to be perfectly structured or intense, go for a swim, dance in your lounge, or get outside into the garden.
7. Laugh like Tom Cruise
Okay.. maybe let’s not go that far!
But laughter really is the best medicine and it can improve your health, another good reason for my Netflix habit (yusss!). Humour quickly lifts your mood and protects us from the effects of stress (like the premature aging of our skin) when you joke around with friends or watch funny cat videos on YouTube, the act of laughing grounds us, keeps you more focused, helps us connect better with others and releases built-up anger and stress. The best thing about this method of calming is that it’s fun, free, and easy to do.
8. Use your words.
No one has more to say than a woman who says she doesn’t want to talk about it… am I right? And if you don’t want to talk about it, write it. I used this method a lot in my first marriage as I really felt like we couldn’t talk to each other without making the situation worse, so I could communicate through journaling and it actually helped me to reduce stress and get rid of any negative thoughts. It’s a great way to organise your feelings, clear your mind and gain focus instead of carrying it all around with you like a sack of potatoes.
It can serve as escapism. I can’t help but think about Anne Frank and how she used her diary to communicate her thoughts and feelings at a time when she was under some pretty immense pressure and fear, with no friends to confide in, Anne used her diary to express the struggles she faced growing up during the Second World War.
“The nicest part is being able to write down all my thoughts and feelings, otherwise I’d absolutely suffocate.”anne frank
These simple acts really do support and guide me through stressful times. Some of them may not suit you or your needs, while others you may be able to adapt, I do hope though, that you can find positive and easy ways to overcome your stress and anxiety in difficult situations. I’d love you to connect with me below in the comments section with any ideas or thoughts you have, I am always here if you need a chat! Come join the conversation on Instagram.
You might also be interested in my post – 12 Self Care Ideas To Help Your Anxiety
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