Religion and spirituality
While slightly less tangible than other strategies on this list, the Mayo Clinic reports that religion and spirituality may help people relieve stress by offering a sense of purpose and a community for support. Religion and spirituality can also allow people to accept the lack of control they have in some aspects of their lives.
Cooking and baking
Cooking when you must isn’t always fun; however, if you have some time to spare and find cooking or baking to be a therapeutic activity, it could be just what you need to reduce stress. Cooking and baking, which can be categorized as creative activities, may be able to increase feelings of relaxation and happiness, according to a 2016 study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology.
The COVID-19 crisis has tossed many schedules right out the window and that lack of structure may be preventing you from eating nutritious meals. Nutrition doesn’t just affect your weight and your immune system: A healthy diet can help the body deal with physiological changes brought on by stress. Foods that may be able to decrease stress and anxiety include fatty fish, eggs, yogurt, turmeric, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, and dark chocolate, according to a medically reviewed article published by Medical News Today.
Exercise can reduce stress and increase relaxation, according to an article by Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publishing. Clinical trials have shown aerobic activity such as walking, running, swimming, or cycling is capable of treating clinical depression and anxiety disorders because it decreases adrenaline and cortisol, while also stimulating endorphin production.
Researchers at the University of Utah reported that “the holistic science of yoga is the best method for prevention as well as management of stress and stress-induced disorders,” in a 2012 article published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine. There are countless free and paid-for online yoga classes for every age and ability, including the popular YouTube channel Yoga With Adriene and Glo, which allows for personalized practice.
Research suggests the benefits of massage are more than simply physical, with the Mayo Clinic noting that anxiety and insomnia related to stress are two conditions massage may improve. Though in most parts of the world, making an appointment at a spa is not an option right now, if you live with a partner, learn some massage techniques online and treat each other to an at-home session. There are also products available to improve self-massage, such as balls and rollers.
Mindfulness may come off as a buzzword, but in practice, it means to be present, aware, and to avoid becoming overwhelmed. It is a practice inspired by the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program created by Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979 at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Over the course of decades, the program’s research showed how this practice could be used to reduce pain from chronic disease and can lessen the occurrence of stress-related illness. And clearly it works: Institutions from Harvard to the U.S. Army have adopted mindfulness programs to help people cope with stress. Typing “mindful meditation” into a search engine will offer endless guides and resources to getting started.
Guided imagery is a learning process in which you engage your senses to take part in imagination. It may seem a bit abstract at first, but according to the Mayo Clinic via ScienceDaily, guided imagery has been shown to help people manage stress, sending “a message to the emotional control center of the brain.” Meditation app Headspace offers guided imagery, or there are countless free resources online that can help you get started.
Aromatherapy can be an effective tool to manage stress, according to the Cleveland Clinic, as well as many other scientific studies. Psychology Today recommends lavender, lemon, bergamot, ylang ylang, clary sage, and jasmine essential oils to alleviate stress. Use a carrier oil like olive, jojoba, or avocado oil to topically apply essential oils to your skin (some may be too strong to be directly applied), or add drops of your favorite scents into a diffuser.
Hypnosis is a widely misunderstood tool in the mental health field, and while it won’t work for everyone, this technique can help with stress reduction. A hypnotist, or a recording of one, will guide you into a focused, but deeply relaxed state, which will help you to subconsciously accept something (i.e. to be happy or to not be afraid). Healthline provides a brief guide to self-hypnosis to achieve calmness.2018 All rights reserved.