Try these seven ideas to squelch stress and reclaim calm in a post-CoVid world.
- Take to the tub
Add a cupful of Epsom salts, two chamomile tea bags and 10 drops of lavender essential oil to a warm bath. This helps to soften dry skin, while the sweat induced by the Epsom salts offloads toxins. Time simply spent lying there feeling toasty and relaxed calms both mind and body, which is critical when you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious. And if you take your bath right before bed, it helps you get a good night’s sleep, which in turn improves your energy and ability to cope with stress.
- Make good scents
Citrus essential oils, such as grapefruit, bergamot and lemon, counter negativity and elevate mood. Add 3-5 drops of each oil to 100 ml of cooled boiled water and pour into an atomiser bottle. Gently mist your face and neck whenever you need a mood pick-me-up.
- Prioritise friendships
Studies show that people with strong friendships experience less anxiety, and have stronger self-esteem and more robust immune systems. A Harvard University study has found that positive social attachments and regular social activity protect against memory loss, whereas people with limited social activity are more likely to suffer from depression. Aim to strike up one conversation a day with a colleague or neighbour – and practise listening more than you speak, as that will make the other person open up to you.
- Sing (or play) a song
Music is one of the best blues fighters around, especially when you make it yourself. Whether your instrument is a harmonica, a ukulele, or just your own voice, release your emotions in song and feel the truth of the lyrics and notes passing through you, washing away sadness and worry.
- Don’t forget to breathe
As soon as we are under stress, we breathe shallowly and too fast. An easy do-anywhere exercise to reset your breathing is the Yoga Belly Breath. Lie down, or sit up straight in a chair and gently place your hands on your lower belly, below your tummy button. Inhale, and allow the breath to reach down to the bottom of your lungs, so your ribcage expands, your belly rounds out and your hands rise. Exhale, release your belly and let your hands fall. Repeat 10 times.
- Give yourself goals
Vegging on the couch in front of Netflix may seem relaxing, but it is probably not feeding your spirit. Make a list of things to do that are beautiful, inspiring, and uplifting – reading poetry, visiting the art gallery, or perhaps taking up a creative hobby, like pottery, or enrolling in an educational short course, such as psychology.
- Love the light
Studies show that being exposed to sunlight is crucial for creating and maintaining a positive mood and attitude. Take every opportunity to enjoy the daylight, by walking to work, sitting in a park at lunchtime, and going for bushwalks and picnics on the weekend.