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Even the calmest among us have found 2020 to be a taxing year. From a worldwide pandemic to shuttering businesses and a weakened economy-2020 has been a challenge for everyone. For those who already struggle with anxiety and depression, all of this may be too much to bear. Though we might attend weekly therapy sessions, we may need more help to get us through those bad moments. If medication is not an option, there are many other ways to calm your stress during these challenging times, including-
1. Muscle Tension/Relaxation Exercises
This exercise requires lying still and tensing and relaxing one part of your body at a time. Start with your feet and tense up for 3-5 seconds, then release. Continue this pattern until you have performed this exercise throughout your entire body. This helps to release built-up muscle tension and anxiety throughout the day.
2. Listen to Music
Much of the music we listen to nowadays is anything but calming. Try downloading Pandora on your phone and listen to classical music, spa music, or 1950’s radio. Put in your earphones to gain a better experience. This is especially helpful if you are trying to complete a project or want to stop the internal chatter.
3. Put the Phone Down
The negative side effects of cell phones and social media have been discussed ad nauseam by experts. Yet, so few of us know when to put the device down. Excessive cell phone use is addictive, increases anxiety, and enhances depression. Instead of scrolling through Facebook yet again, make a point to take a day-long break from your phone and enjoy the present moment. Let everyone know of your plan so you don’t have to worry about anyone trying to reach you. You’ll be amazed at how much this will reduce your stress levels.
4. Try Deep Breathing
Many of us instinctively breathe from our chest area, rather than our stomach. This prevents enough oxygen from reaching us and can even induce symptoms of panic. Try breathing in slowly through your nose to the count of 5. Next, exhale slowly out of your mouth to the count of 7. Place one hand on your chest and another on your stomach during this exercise. This will help slow your breathing, increase oxygen, and induce a sense of calm. If needed, go online to find meditative videos and apps that can help to calm down by utilizing this proper breathing techniques.
5. Take a Cold or Hot Dunk
The therapeutic benefits of cold and hot water have been discussed in the health-based community for years. A hot bath can do wonders to ease tension and induce relaxation. Try adding Epsom salts for a better experience. Swimming in cold water is also beneficial, though maybe less enjoyable in the moment. Cold water can jolt the nervous system to change from an anxious state to a calm one, so try dipping in the cold ocean or drawing an icy bath to sit in for 5 minutes. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel afterwards.
Do you struggle with anxiety and depression? If so, please contact Straight Talk Counseling at 714-828-2000 or visit our website at straighttalkcounseling.org. One of our professional counselors would be happy to speak with you.