Want to Ditch the Anxiety? Read this.
Stress and anxiety trigger a potent hormone in our body called cortisol. This is part of our ‘emergency call’ or the fight/flight response we need to tune in to when we are in imminent trouble.
While this is critical to our survival, it can be depleting and exhausting. In my case, as a lupus patient, it means a potential flare. Having a long-term drag of cortisol can lead to many problems, as I have learned myself; a significant effect includes suppressing the immune system.
What should we do when we are torn apart and asked to behave in a way we have never dreamed of? We are social animals; nevertheless, we cannot be around the people we love. We crave to go out but are afraid of an invisible being that is merciless.
We have been asked to be patient, stay at home, and adjust our routine. We need to think about others as we can harm people by walking on the streets without a mask.
“The experience I have had is that once you start talking about [experiencing a mental health struggle], you realize that actually you’re part of quite a big club.” — Prince Harry
Good News: Small Habits Trigger Big Changes
There are a few activities that can help reduce cortisol (stress), and I listed five. I have tried them for the past few days and made a difference.
- Meditate every day. This helps connect to our spiritual side and keep you in the present moment, which is crucial these days. It does not matter how long, as every bit counts. I love an app called Shine, which has a limited promotion during the pandemic, and a special kit to help with coronavirus anxiety. Journaling and drawing after the meditation have been amazing for me as well. It brings everything together – my experience, my thoughts, and how my body reacted to the silence. I have learned a lot about myself and my pain with meditation.
- Spend more time with pets or plants, they are nature’s healers. I know that, for some of us, having a pet is not an option, so spend time taking care of your favorite plants. If you have a yard, give it some love. If you can, plan a walk in nature – just remember to be careful and follow your local laws to be safe and protect others.
- Reach out to your beloved ones; don’t postpone it! Technology has been so instrumental and affordable these days, use it! Love has no time and space and does magic to our mental wellbeing. This past week, we had a virtual family get together to celebrate a few birthdays, and it was awesome – all my siblings, nieces, nephews, and my mom. It was so lovely to see everyone, I felt loved, close to them. Plan ahead, and put it in the calendar, so everyone remembers.
- Practice yoga during the day or just before going to bed. I have found a few options online, on YouTube, Amazon Prime, and Netflix – some require payment, but many are for free. My preferred go-to teacher, who has lots of free videos posted on YouTube, is Adriene. She has millions of followers and has all types of classes for all levels of expertise. Do not fear if you are a beginner; there will be no pretzel poses! But, if your thing is not yoga, find something else to move your body, you will feel better afterward!
- Epsom salt baths are also known to be an excellent way to destress and detox our bodies. Using a loofah sponge on the dry skin before your shower or bath will help remove the dead cells and ease the detox. Just remember to clean your loofah regularly to prevent bacteria growth. One simple way I clean it is by putting it on the top rack of my dishwasher. Also, alternating hot and cold water during a shower can help boost the immune system and the mood, as it stimulates circulation.
“Tough times never last, but tough people do!” — Robert Schuller
Next week, I will share some ideas on how to include some healthy habits in our diets, easy tips I started using that I think can go a long way. For now, check some of my recipes and get inspired!
Feel good. Be strong. Stay well.
“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” — Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban