5 WAYS TO DE-STRESS: A SELF-CARE GUIDE DURING COVID
COVID Stress wreaking havoc on your sleep, self-esteem, body image and sense of self? Feeling overwhelmed? Want to cry? Well, you’re definitely NOT alone!
According to a recent study published by the American Psychological Association (1), COVID-19 has heightened our stress levels, especially for women, who are more likely to report physical and emotional symptoms of stress compared to men.
- Women are more likely than men (28 percent vs. 20 percent) to report having a great deal of stress (8, 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale).
- Almost half of all women (49 percent) surveyed said their stress has increased over the past five years, compared to four in 10 (39 percent) men.
- Women are more likely to report physical and emotional symptoms of stress than men, such as having a headache (41 percent vs. 30 percent), having felt as though they could cry (44 percent vs. 15 percent), or having had an upset stomach or indigestion (32 percent vs. 21 percent) in the past month.
How often have you felt the need to cry, or have an upset stomach, or indigestion during the past 6-9 months?
Another study done by the University of Houston (2) recently surveyed 1,063 Houston-area residents and found that nearly 34 percent of women felt anxious almost every day, or more than half of each week, compared to 25 percent of men.
As we can see, the stress, and anxiety are REAL! Our health, sanity, and livelihood depend on us taking care of ourselves during these trying times. How you say?
Here are 5 tips on how to let go and recharge.
1. TAKE A BATH
Drawing a bath is the perfect opportunity to reconnect with yourself after a long day. And let’s not forget that any sort of ache seems to magically disappear! Did you know that the sense of smell is our most powerful sense and that the sense of smell is linked most heavily to our mood, memory and emotions? So, lighting a scented candle and choosing some essential oils adds another layer of self-nourishment to your bath experience. Inhaling this same combination of oils later in the day may trigger the sense of calm you experienced during your bath. Start by setting aside just one evening a week to take a bath. Increase this ritual to twice a week as you start to realize how important a bath is in nourishing your mind + body + spirit.
- GO ON A DATE…WITH YOURSELF
The artist and author, Julia Cameron, refers to dates with yourself as ‘Artists Dates.’ This is a particular time you set aside for yourself each week. Say, a Thursday afternoon. You pick what day works for you. Like a real date, be sure to show up! When you call it a ‘date’ it’s easier to show up. This little rendezvous with yourself can last between 30-60 minutes. The point is to use this time to discover something new about yourself. Explore a new bookstore, coffee shop, boutique, or museum. During these COVID times, this might be more challenging but it is feasible to treat yourself to a date – even if it’s a ZOOM art class or guitar lesson. Reconnecting with yourself in a new environment and experience promotes creativity and forms new neural connections. Oftentimes you feel inspired in ways you never would have if you simply engaged in your normal weekly routine.
- BOOK A MASSAGE or RELAXING FACIAL
When we pencil something in our calendars, we get to experience the positive emotions that precede the event. This sense of anticipation often brings just as much joy as the actual event. We know we all deserve a massage or other relaxing spa service but often reserve self-care for special occasions, like a birthday. Book a massage or facial right now. Pencil it in midweek as something you deserve…and look forward to it. Set the event as recurring in your calendar and schedule another massage a month or two later. Getting a massage or spa facial on a regular basis provides you the space to step away from the daily grind. Try and view this me time as preventative medicine. We can certainly grab a pill to quell our anxieties. Or we can stay ahead of it and honor our mind and bodies with a little self-care.
Taking just 5-10 minutes each day to meditate has proven to dramatically reduce feeling of stress, anxiety and depression. Meditation has also demonstrated decreased activation of the amygdala (area of the brain associated with stress and anxiety). When you are focused on your breath, meditation has been found to increase the gray matter of the brain. This is the area of the brain responsible for mental flexibility, emotion and attention. One scientist explains this further by saying, ‘meditation is like a training program for the brain, strengthening and making new connections between neurons.’ The good news is that meditation can be done pretty much anywhere – at your desk, in your home, in a parking lot. Starting a meditation ritual where you assign a certain time each day to meditate truly is an act of self-care.
- SURPRISE YOURSELF
Where is it written that you can’t send yourself a present? We all know how great surprise presents make us feel. We experience our importance and feel cared for. Why not extend a little bit of this gratitude towards yourself? The best way to do this is to purchase something online you have been thinking about. The item doesn’t have to be big and it certainly shouldn’t be a practical item like a can opener. Have fun browsing online for a small token that makes you feel special. Order the item and send it to yourself to arrive in 1-2 weeks. Delaying the arrival helps with the surprise factor as well as feeds into the pleasure that comes from anticipation. A midweek surprise is a sure way to treat yourself to some much-deserved self-care.
Here's a surprise that you can treat yourself (and your partner, if you want) – to some decadent oils for your skin for daily use, … and of course, a copy of my book which you can relax with while soaking peacefully in the tub. CLICK HERE! Make sure to use code: DRDIANA for a special discount!
In health and happiness,