Healthy Tahoe: Critical stress management, what to do when stuck at home
When air quality is bad, hazardous pollutants fill the air and can be harmful if inhaled. The only escape from its effects may be to remain indoors, although, being cooped up with housemates and family may result in anxiety and restlessness. While extra time indoors may be stress-inducing, there are ways to make time at home productive and even fun.
Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. A nutritious, well-balanced diet and exercise can keep your body fit and able to resist disease, and exercise is an excellent way to elevate your mood. When stuck at home, try implementing home routines like bodyweight exercises and yoga, or hop on an indoor bike to get the body moving.
Talk about your stressful situation with someone you trust. When your anxiety starts ramping up, find trusted friends or loved ones to share your feelings with. They can help you put worries in perspective and give you insights into ways to deal with them.
Stay organized or get organized. Time at home may give you an opportunity to declutter your space. Finding a place for things can be surprisingly cathartic—providing relief through the simple task of organization. It also allows more room for you to relax.
Make time for sleep. Lack of sleep can worsen symptoms of anxiety and make you feel more stressed out. Although sleep needs are individual, research suggests that adults need at least seven to eight hours of rest a night. When you’re battling stress and anxiety, treat yourself to extra sleep when you need it.
Use relaxation techniques to calm your mind and body. Listen to soothing music or try this simple breathing technique. Inhale through your nose, then slowly exhale through your mouth. As you exhale, make a long sighing sound as you do. Repeat three or four times. This exercise relaxes you by decreasing your blood pressure and stress-hormone levels and bringing more oxygen to your heart and brain. Teaching yourself ways to relax can help settle anxiety before it starts to overwhelm you.
Activate the mind. Activities can stimulate your brain and keep your mind occupied from the source of stress. Some ideas for simple activities include: read a book or a chapter book aloud with your kids; plan a ‘camp out’ in the living room; do a puzzle; play board or card games; draw or sketch; write in a journal; or take a walk down memory lane by telling stories.
Watch what you drink. Cut back on how much alcohol and caffeine you drink. Both can affect your mood. Excess alcohol and caffeine can heighten anxiety and even contribute to a panic attack.
No matter how tense you feel, anxiety doesn’t have to take over your life. Taking good care of yourself, emotionally and physically, can help give you the boost you need to keep anxiety in check while you’re cooped up. Professional help is available if you need it.
Adriana Covell is a Wellness Health Coach at the Barton Center for Orthopedics & Wellness. For more information, activities and healthy recipes, visit our health library at BartonHealth.org/HealthLibrary.
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