6 stress relievers that work
Prolonged stress can take a toll on your emotional and physical health. Try one of these instant stress relief tools to give yourself a break during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has disrupted almost all our lives.
Whether you’re a health worker on the front lines, you’re anxious about someone who is sick or practicing social distancing and staying home, this is a stressful time.
We’ve put together this list of simple tools that you can use right away to ease your mind and body.
Pursed lip breathing exercise
- Deep breathing can provide instant relief. It reassures your body and send a message of calm. Inhale slowly through your nose and count to two. Then purse your lips and exhale through your mouth for a count of four.
- Repeat five times.
If you can stay in the present, it may help with focus and ease anxiety. Try this simple mindfulness exercise to get you out of worrying about what might happen.
Stand in a quiet place and think of:
- Five things you can see
- Four things you can feel
- Three things you can hear
- Two things you can smell
- One thing you can taste
Chest, neck and shoulder stretch
A quick stretch can release stress. And the chest, neck and shoulders often hold a lot of tension. Try these exercises to relax those muscles.
- Chest stretch: Extend your arm straight up, palm facing forward and press your hand against a flat surface like a wall. Bring the same side foot forward, with a slight bend in the knee. Slightly lean in to feel a stretch across the chest. Hold for 20-30 seconds, repeat and switch to other side.
- Neck stretch: Stand or sit nice and tall. Tilt your head so your ear moves towards your right shoulder. Hold for 20-30 seconds, come back to neutral position before switching to the left side.
- Shoulder stretch: Bring the right arm across the chest and use the left arm to assist in pulling the right arm across. Hold for 20-30 seconds, repeat and switch to the other arm.
A shift in perspective can sometimes make all the difference.
Grab a pen and paper and list all the things you are grateful for right now. It can be as simple as appreciating the roof over your head or a friend you talk to on the phone.
Appreciating what we do have can be a powerful way to ease negative thoughts. And studies show people who practice gratitude have more feelings of well-being.
Many of us eat in a rush, especially when we’re feeling overwhelmed. This can lead to problems like indigestion or overeating. Extra physical discomfort is the last thing you need if you are stressed out.
When you eat, eat slowly and put your fork down between bites.
This mindful eating habit will slow you down and make it easier to realize when you’re full. If you eat mindfully you also are more likely to seek out healthy foods, which boost your immune system.
Routine is a big part of what keeps us sane in normal times. So if your routine has been pushed out of whack, take a few minutes to try to create a few landmarks in your day.
Pick regular times for getting up and going to bed, and for your meals.
Scheduling your exercise breaks also can go a long way to improving the way you feel. If you have a set time to get up and move, you’re more likely to do it.
Exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress.
Whatever your situation, taking care of yourself is key during times of disruption. Try not to skip breaks or stay up late.
MD Anderson President Peter Pisters shares his tips for self-care here.
Find COVID-19 resources and learn how MD Anderson is responding to the pandemic.