These are definitely uncertain times. As I write this, the world is dealing with a major pandemic which has left people feeling isolated, scared, angry, and anxious. Many are having trouble coping with this stress.
In this episode of the podcast, we provide you with 10 healthy coping mechanisms for navigating difficult periods. You can listen here…
…or read on for a quick summary of what we discuss.
10 Healthy Coping Mechanisms
Spend Some Time in Nature
Spending time in nature can be as easy as stepping into your backyard and listening to the birds. We have a duck pond close to our home where we go to walk our dogs and enjoy some time outdoors. Try to find safe outside spaces where you can observe nature without any distractions (including your phone). If your face is buried in your phone while you’re outside, you’ll miss out on a lot!
Exercise not only has physical benefits but mental ones as well. If you can’t get to a gym, there are PLENTY of things you can do from home (or during your outdoor time).
Since we both work from home, I’ll sometimes set a timer to help remind me to stand up and step away from my desk. Larissa and I will sometimes start our own impromptu 80s dance party just to get us up and moving.
I like to journal, and have done so for years. It feels good to pour my thoughts out onto a page. I prefer longhand writing for journals because I do think your brain works differently when you write versus when you type. It slows you down just enough to allow you to process your thoughts differently. This is currently my favorite journal, but a plain notebook will work just as well.
Stay In Touch with Family and Friends
My family and friends are truly my greatest treasures. They can be an immense source of comfort during difficult times. Don’t be embarrassed to tell those people close to you how you are feeling. They may be in a position to help you, or at least provide just the right amount of encouragement to help you through.
Our sense of smell is a powerful tool to help relieve stress and achieve relaxation. Scented candles, soothing essential oils, and scented lotions can all help our minds and bodies relax. For more on the benefits of essential oils, check out episode 262 of our podcast, Essential Oils 101.
Watch Something Funny
Of ALL the items in this list of healthy coping mechanisms, this one (for me) works the fastest to turn a “meh” mood into a positive one!
When I was in a job I didn’t really care for, I started incorporating “laughter” into my daily routine. Larissa and I would watch an episode of Arrested Development or Seinfeld while we ate breakfast before I left for work. More often than not, those days went much better than ones we didn’t start with humor.
Studies have shown that laughter has many benefits, including:
- Stress reduction resulting from lower levels of the “stress hormone,” cortisol
- Improved memory
- Protection from heart disease
- Enhanced learning ability
Finding ways to laugh during tough times doesn’t mean you’re sticking your head in the sand or not taking things seriously. It’s all about choosing where you place your focus.
Learn Something New
Our brains love to learn. Focusing on learning something new can take your mind off your troubles and stimulate creative and problem-solving areas of the brain. The “stay at home” orders in place in many areas during this pandemic are giving us extra time to invest in picking up hobbies we’ve always been “meaning to get around to.” Some ideas include:
- Picking up a new instrument (or one you haven’t touched in a long time)
- Learning a new language
- Creating a new recipe of your own (this one is especially fun with kids!)
Listen To Music
Music is incredibly cathartic. One of the things I used to LOVE to do was put on a pair of headphones and listen to a favorite album from beginning to end with no distractions. I would just close my eyes and listen to every bit of the music.
According to an article in Psychology today:
There are several mechanisms by which music can have this effect. First of all, music has positive physical effects. It can produce direct biological changes such as reducing heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels.
Try putting on some of your favorite music and doing nothing else…just listen. You might find that whatever is troubling you disappears into the music.
This machine (music) surrounds hate and forces it to surrender. Pete Seeger
Stay Informed, But Don’t Obsess Over the News
Find a couple of trusted sources and try to stick with those. One of those sources should be a reputable national website. As we are currently dealing with a pandemic, the latest and most accurate information can be found on the CDC website.
You may want to choose a local news outlet so that you can stay informed about what’s going on in your city.
Depending on the situation, you may want to turn off or limit the number of notifications your phone receives. This can be distracting and adversely impact your physical and mental well-being.
Find Ways You Can Help Others
Helping others is kind in itself but it also benefits the helper as well.
The term “helper’s high” refers to the emotional boost we receive when we help someone.
The concept of the “helper’s high” arose in the 1980s, and has been confirmed in various studies since then. It consists of positive emotions following selfless service to others. Greater health and increased longevity are associated with this psychological state. Generosity, selflessness, and an extended sense of self favor our ability to confront successfully the environmental challenges we face on our planet. -Larry Dossey
We hope that you will find at least a few of these healthy coping mechanisms helpful in reducing your stress levels. If you are having an unusually difficult time dealing with stress, please be sure to speak with a mental health professional.
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Thanks for listening!
Peace and Veggies,
Vickie and Larissa