We are living through a crazy and unpredictable time in history. COVID-19 has changed everything and no one truly knows what lies ahead. We all hope and assume that eventually, things will get back to normal if we just hunker down and stay at home to keep ourselves and others safe, but we all have no idea how long this will last, or how different things might be when it is over. All of this uncertainty inspires stress and anxiety in even the most stable among us. Many of the most upbeat people we know do manage to stay positive most of the time, but even they have their moments of confusion, darkness, and negativity in the midst of all this. Although many people are still working and many others receive unemployment and other financial government support, some are jobless and have many worries about what lies ahead. Children are out of school, in many places indefinitely. People are concerned about employment, rent, and accessibility of food and medical care. Everyone is worried that they might contract COVID-19 every time they go out into the world. These stresses and feelings of anxiety are everywhere right now and are taking their toll on people’s happiness and mental health. Even the most well-adjusted, secure people among us are having a difficult time, so it’s no surprise that some people in recovery are having an even more challenging time than most. Stress is a major trigger for relapse, and no one wants to feel anxious all the time. Fortunately, there are many things that you can do to help you relieve yourself from these feelings and to feel more normal, even in a challenging time. Read on for tips on how to feel less anxious and stressed in an unprecedented time like right now.
Ten Tips for Stress & Anxiety Relief
Exercise is amazing for stress reduction, and you’ll get physically fit in the process. Although getting motivated to get off the couch in a difficult time can be quite a challenge, once you start you’ll experience immense benefits right away. When we exercise, endorphins are released. These chemicals improve our mood and act as natural painkillers. Furthermore, exercise lowers our body’s stress hormones like cortisol over time resulting in improved and more long term feelings of calmness. Exercise also can help to improve sleep quality. People who are well-rested tend to feel fewer feelings of stress and anxiety overall.
2) Reduce Caffeine Intake
If you are sitting home all the time due to stay-at-home orders related to coronavirus, you might be drinking a lot more coffee, tea, or soda than usual. All of these beverages contain caffeine; of course you know this, and may be drinking them for that very reason. However, although caffeine can help you stay awake and feel alert, too much caffeine can make you jittery and anxious. The anxiety you feel may in part be from too much caffeine. Cut your caffeinated beverages down to one or two a day and you will surely feel at least somewhat better fast.
Keeping a journal is a great stress reliever. Even in times prior to and after this pandemic, putting your worries down on paper in written form will help you to get ideas out of your head and into a more concrete form. When you express them to yourself in this way, they will likely seem much more manageable.
4) Connect with Friends and Family
One of the most difficult parts of having to stay at home is being separated from family and friends. However, remember that even though you are physically separated from them, thanks to technology, they are never truly very far away. Imagine how difficult and lonely things must have been during quarantine during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic? In comparison, we are so fortunate today. Many people are using this time to reconnect with old and distant friends on the phone, via text, or through video calls on platforms like Zoom. Take some time to reach out to others; they’ll be excited and grateful to hear from you. Be careful not to talk about coronavirus all the time though. Consider preparing a list of common interests for topic discussion before you make your call.
Laughter truly is the best medicine. It may seem difficult to laugh during such a serious time, but it’s important that we do. Re-watch some of your favorite comedic films and sitcoms. Watch some funny YouTube videos. Watch a stand-up comedian on Netflix. Read upbeat collections by humorists like Dave Barry or Erma Bombeck.
6) Practice Yoga & Meditation
If you have never done yoga or haven’t practiced meditation before, there’s no time like the present to try out these major stress relievers. Both of these ancient practices have been helping people work through difficult life situations for thousands of years and now it’s your turn. There are many free yoga videos online. Search Youtube for free yoga and you’ll be amazed at what is available to you. The same goes for meditation sessions. You can find lessons and guidance in a wide variety of different disciplines.
7) Listen to Music
“One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain.” These lyrics by Bob Marley are some of the truest words ever spoken. Music can make you feel better and less stressed no matter what is going on in your life or in the greater world. Choose some music that makes you feel good and spend some time listening to it every day. The benefits of this practice are ongoing and impressive.
If you are fortunate enough to be quarantining with someone that you love, cuddling can do wonders for your mood. Whether you choose to cuddle with a significant other, a child, or a pet, both of you will feel better afterward. Repeat often for best results.
9) Try Deep Breathing
When you’re stressed or are experiencing anxiety, you breathe faster than normal. This signals your brain to go into fight-or-flight mode and as a result, your anxiety and stress just build upon themselves. If you note this and instead practice deep breathing techniques, you will feel better fast. When you focus your awareness on your breath, you can slow your heart rate and lower your stress levels naturally.
10) Go Outside
Being outdoors is good for you for so many reasons. Although for some it is difficult to be outside due to social distancing regulations, if you can find a space away from people to walk around and enjoy nature, do it as often as you possibly can. Listen to the birds, watch the clouds, and breathe in the fresh air. Notice the little things and reflect on your place in this great big world. You might be surprised by how much spending time outside can change the way you feel.
Each of the above ideas may seem small on its own, but if you combine them together you will be impressed to see that your anxiety and stress levels are reduced by a lot. This is a difficult time for everyone, but there’s no reason to suffer. Take care of yourself and reach out when you need help. Most importantly, don’t succumb to impulses to use. In times like these, your health and sobriety is more crucial than ever. Stay clean and sober by managing your stress and anxiety. You can do it! Our iboga treatment center would love to help you to take the first steps on your journey to recovery from addiction at our facility in Cancun, Mexico. Our staff is experienced and professional, and our ibogaine detox treatment is innovative and effective. Please call us today to find out more about our facility and treatment options. We look forward to hearing from you.
Dr. Sola is one of the world’s leading experts in medically-based ibogaine treatment; he has more clinical experience with safe and effective ibogaine administration than any other M.D. in the world today.