COVID-19 or the coronavirus is not only impacting folks physically but mentally as well. Society has been forced into lockdown, and for many, this quarantining has resulted in a flood of paralyzing thoughts that can bring on depression and anxiety. Unemployment is also at an all-time high. For those who live alone and are not working, they are robbed of social interaction.
One recent poll of 2,190 adults by NORC at the University of Chicago found the majority of Americans have felt anxious, depressed, lonely, or hopeless in at least one of the last seven days the survey was conducted. A federal emergency hotline for people in emotional distress registered more than a 1,000 percent increase in April compared to the same time last year. Last month, roughly 20,000 people texted the hotline run by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Federal agencies and experts warn that during this pandemic, a historic wave of mental-health problems is approaching: depression, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicide.
Some folks might require anti-depressants to center themselves. For those who do not need drugs to find inner peace during this new normal, consider going the natural route to whoosah.
Take a bath. When was the last time you took a soothing hot bath, closed your eyes, and just let your thoughts go to a calm place? A bath helps to center the body and mind. It releases toxins from your body that slows everything down and makes your brain feel cloudy. It relaxes your muscles and allows your body to enter a state of rejuvenation. The body and mind are directly related – calm body, calm mind. Remember, our grandparents used Epsom salts in their bathwater? Well, Epsom salts soothe tired and achy muscles, so the pains you’re experiencing are bathed away.
How about revisiting your childhood with a good ole bubble bath! Play with the bubbles. Make yourself a mask of bubbles! Remember how fun and carefree life used to be as a child bathing in a bathtub full of bubbles?
Get quality sleep. The most commonsense trifecta of self-care is eating nutritiously, exercising, and getting enough sleep. Getting enough sleep helps keep your immune system running at peak so that you can fight off infections. Sleep restores the body, improves concentration, regulates mood, and sharpens judgment and decision-making. When you are well-rested, you can keep stress in check.
Recite a prayer or mantra. Right about now, the world feels like it’s spinning out of control, reciting a prayer or contemplative mantra can remind you to come back to your center, let go of the worry that’s gripping you, and simply let life take over. Creating calm amid stress via praying or reciting a mantra provides a place of stillness for our souls to settle those scary racing thoughts.
Here is a prayer for calm when all seems chaotic in this world:
Lord, this life’s troubles overwhelm me. Families shatter. Politicians sway. News reports devastate. Darkness grows. Grace seems to hide. Do my efforts matter? What’s the point in keeping on when all I want to do is curl up in a ball and hide? Your presence sustains me in this difficult time, and I rely on your strength to stand up and stand firm.
Grow my faith, so I am not swayed by despair. Calm my heart as it rests in you and let me know that you are near.
Repeat the following mantra…
“Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.
Introspection is one of the most calming ways to relax, because it’s a reflection of who you are.
Work stress out via exercise. You don’t have to remain sedentary all day while you are quarantining. Get up and move! Staying active not only keeps your body healthy physically (keeping your risk of chronic health issues down and lowering your chances of acute illness, like COVID-19); it also helps up your mood and well-being. Exercise releases endorphins (hormones that make you feel good!), sharpens focus, and aids sleep. Try the easy yoga moves below designed for us seasoned folks.
Destress and re-energize with high-protein foods. If you feel stressed or zapped of energy, and are struggling to get through your day, try eating high protein foods. Studies show that eating foods high in protein can also help you lose belly fat, increase muscle mass, lower blood pressure, fight diabetes, and more. Instead of reaching for fatty food, try any of the following high-protein foods to help you jump over emotional hurdles with ease and get back to life refocused, refueled, and less overwhelmed:
Chicken or Turkey Breast
Take a whiff to destress. For many, headaches and stress go hand-in-hand. So the next time you feel a migraine brought on by stress whiff green apples! In a study from the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, people with migraines who sniffed the scent of a green apple experienced a drop in pain. It’s thought the smell might reduce muscle contractions in the head and neck, leading to pain.
The scent of lavender also significantly lowers anxiety levels. Try lighting a lavender candle or taking a whiff of lavender oil the next time you feel anxious.
Drink a healthy mocktail. Many beverages can have an instant calming effect on distress. So before you reach for the vodka, try a non-alcoholic drink instead that is also good for you:
- Decaffeinated Green tea—contains over 700 compounds and one of its most talked-about ingredients is L-theanine an amino acid that promotes relaxation and sharpens concentration and focus
- Water—enhances the release of endorphins, the feel-good hormone that leads to a diversion from anxiety and stress
- Vegetable fruit juice—high in berries, cantaloupe, mango, and green leaf veggies gives you better stress management and reduces mental and physical reactions to anxiety
- Valerian tea—improves sleep and has potent relief effects on anxiety and stress via its effect on the GABA quantity in the brain. The GABA (Gamma Amino Butyric Acid) compound serves to calm anxiety and regulate nerve cells. Valerian is rich in acids that increase the GABA chemicals in the brain. The anti-anxiety drugs Xanax and Valium offer the same basic mechanism logic as valerian tea except that the latter is safer.