OSM Self Care|Stress Management
Simple Stress-Relievers in the Midst of Uncertainty
Dr.Didoy MD – Nordic Medical Clinic
The world is changing. With the pandemic going on, it has changed the way we work, our lifestyles, and our usual routine. If unable to adapt to this rapid change, this could bring about unnecessary stress that could get a person overwhelmed and decrease productivity.
What can stress do?
Researchers have found that one exposure to acute stress affects information processing in the cerebellum, the area of the brain responsible for motor control and movement coordination and is involved in learning and memory formation 2. Increased stress overtime also negatively affects one’s well-being and can corrode one’s mental toughness. Researchers at Brown University have found that some stressful life events cause panic symptoms to increase gradually over time, rather than to trigger an immediate panic attack 3.
Stress response refers to the body’s capability to mount up a reaction towards a stressor, sometimes called fight or flight response. And it is an automatic reaction of a person for any triggering stress. When the body is no longer in perceived danger, the body moves from a nervous system moves into a relaxation response. And in this the body recovers: decreasing blood pressure and heart rate, improving digestion, and boosting your immune system 4. Knowing and applying this principle, a person needs to find ways to move this relaxation response more, especially now that we are in extraordinary times.
Based on that information, a person needs to be able to create an appropriate and effective response towards stress. There is so much uncertainty up ahead because of the pandemic. People can get stressed because this is an unprecedented time, and its impact on our professional and personal lives could go long-term. My recommendation is to take it one day at a time. Making simple, actionable decisions that you can do daily, making it into a habit, and becomes part of your lifestyle in the long-term.
Here are some simple stress-relievers that you can do:
- Take quick breaks. 10-15 minute breaks from your routine allows you to shake things off your mind and be refreshed. Learn to enjoy quiet moments.
- Deep breathing exercises. Good diaphragmatic breathing gives you life-giving oxygen in your cells, and you get to exhale the acidic carbon dioxide off your body
- Eat a healthy snack. What you eat, you become. When you eat healthy, fresh food, you will feel health and fresh too.
- Get a drink of water. Water to the body is like oil to a machine. A well-hydrated body leads to higher functionality.
- Take a nap. Rest time is recovery time. 20-40minute naps refreshes your memory bin, improves your concentration, and helps your problem-solving skills.
- Get up and walk. Give your body a good dose of blood circulation by doing this. Movement triggers a good dose of dopamine, giving you a sense of positivity.
- Get some sun. Sunlight promotes Vitamin D production, and it’s a proven mood booster. It relieves anxious and depressive symptoms.
- Play good music. This enables different parts of your brain to be stimulated, enhances your mood and creativity.
- Clean up. A cluttered environment is a product of a cluttered mind. Organize your home and workspace to work for you.
- Have good conversations. Neuroscientists agree that humans are wired to connect. A dose of a good chat with a colleague or loved one energizes the mind and uplifts the heart.
- Get offline. It’s good to be informed but bad to be overloaded. Have a filter on being exposed to too much news and social media
- Plan and Prepare. As famously attributed to Benjamin Franklin, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. Foresight with action is a great skill to prevent unnecessary stresses to come about.
- Help someone. When you help someone you get to help yourself. It gives you a sense of purpose of working and being. From small things to big things, any help you give would be good for you too.
- Remind yourself of your dreams. When people stop dreaming, people stop growing, and people start dying as they say. Dreaming strengthens our belief system and it helps a person persevere and endure any circumstance.
- Have a Spiritual connection. Studies have repeatedly proven that a strong human spirit is able to persevere and rise to any adversity. Activities such as prayer, introspection, scripture reflections, meditation, and attending church activities strengthens the human spirit.
Remember that you have a choice! Stress will always be there knocking on your door. You may not control its entrance, but you can control its exit. We can choose to be better, stronger, and wiser because of the stress. Think of it like a pencil going through sharpening. With a positive perspective and positive response to stress, you could have a more productive and purposeful life.
Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, published online 21 March 2011
The Journal of Neuroscience, 2011; 31: 501–511
Journal of Affective Disorders, published online June 11m 2011