7 Ways to Relax and Reduce Coronavirus Stress

As the coronavirus lockdown drags on, everyone is managing as best they can. We’re all muddling along, trying to keep upbeat and informed and safe. So, this week, we’re going to change things up. We’re going to make some small changes to our routine to help us manage our new normal with some coronavirus stress relief.

Here’s the good news: None of these steps are earth-shattering or necessarily surprising. It’s the same coronavirus stress relief advice we’d give our friends or parents. It may even be things we’ve done in the past. But sometimes we need a refresher.

1. Use those gym clothes you’re wearing

Yeah, you know it’s time. And at first, you were going to be really good. And then, not so much. Now is a really good time to pick it up again. Spring weather has finally arrived in much of the country, and with it, we’re getting some much-needed sun.

Social distancing is still vitally important. And depending on where you live, you may have to wear a homemade cloth mask when you’re out in public. So, if you feel healthy and know the rules in your area, get your cloth mask and sunscreen (and if you’re in the South, your allergy pill) and get some steps in. Remember to limit contact with others, but even an hour of exercise a day can have a huge impact.

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2. Eat well

You know to eat your fruits and vegetables just like you know “quarantine calories don’t count.” Don’t stock up on a ton of produce that will go bad when you eat an entire frozen pizza instead. It’s a lot easier to eat your greens by adding them to something you’re already eating.

Pick up an extra veggie or two on your next trip to the store. Cube them up and put them in storage containers so you can add them to a dish you’re already making.

How do scrambled eggs with wilted kale and sweet potatoes sound? Why not combine the instant mac and cheese you’re making with broccoli and peas? What about pasta with garlic, spinach, grape tomatoes and squash?

Toss it with olive oil and black pepper and you have a satisfying pantry raid pasta dish with ingredients you may even already have in the house. No grocery runs required!

3. Maintain connections

You know those Friday night happy hours with your girlfriends on Zoom? You should keep doing them. They’re helpful in keeping us sane and connected to our friends and loved ones. The mental and emotional effects of social isolation are real. And no one is immune to these feelings. Especially the elderly.

Assisted living facilities and nursing homes all over the country are on lockdown, keeping seniors in their rooms and apartments to limit exposure to the virus. As often as we’ve needed our parents and our grandparents throughout our lives, they could really use our help right now, too. So, pick up the phone. Or, if you’re feeling really ambitious, walk them through downloading the video chat app of your choice.

4. Breathing exercises

Breathing exercises are a fast and effective way to mitigate stress and help keep a level head. For example, when you feel the stress starting to rise, take a slow deep breath through your nose for five seconds. Hold it for two seconds and exhale through your mouth slowly for 10 seconds. Repeat as necessary.

If you find you need a little more help, there are relaxation apps like Calm that feature guided meditations, relaxing sounds and even bedtime stories meant to lull you to sleep. For someone more plugged in and on the go, GIFs can be surprisingly helpful. Small, looping video clips like this are the perfect on-the-go solution.

5. Listen to relaxing music

But when the anxiety and stress become overwhelming, it might be a good time to add a new song to your playlist. “Weightless” by Marconi Union is scientifically proven to be the world’s most relaxing song. It’s so relaxing, it’s actually suggested that you not listen to it while driving.

The song syncs with your brain’s beta waves to lower blood pressure, slow down your resting heart rate, and make you feel more relaxed. It’s even proven to reduce anxiety by 65 percent. You won’t find it on Top 40 radio and there won’t be a club remix anytime soon. But you can find it on most music streaming services.

There’s also this 10-hour loop of the song on YouTube if you want to listen to it at night before going to sleep.

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6. Limit your news intake

You want to stay informed. You want to keep others up to date on what’s happening. And you want to be able to call out any fake news you see that crosses your social media feeds. But there’s such a thing as overdosing on information.

If the news is stressing you out, consume less of it and be smarter about the news you do consume. Be wary of sources on social media and stick with the outlets you know. No one’s saying you shouldn’t watch the news or keep up with the current events and commentary you like, but limit yourself to 30 minutes in the morning and an evening newscast at night.

7. Be careful with the booze

A glass of wine may help you relax. Many of you have figured that out by now. And a drink at night is an effective way to unwind and decompress after a day of digital learning, work from home deadlines and the general stress of what everyday life is like now. But you have to mind your intake and not start pouring every day.

If you do think you’re developing a problem, the resources used to help people quit also have evolved. Zoom video chats have replaced church basements as the new place to go for help managing addiction. Nothing triggers substance abuse or a relapse quite like external stressors, which is why groups like AA are taking their resources and meetings online. It’s the best way members can be there for each other, while still staying six feet apart.

Coronavirus stress relief tips

Cut yourself a little slack. There’s no road map for working through a pandemic, and some of these coronavirus stress relief tips may work better than others. Now is the time to take stock of the things that matter in your life. So, take care of yourself, take care of your health and exercise some self-care. Because when we’re all allowed outside again, it’s going to be a beautiful day.

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Ryan SloaneRyan Sloane is an award-winning journalist, writer, comedian and former child. He's lived in Atlanta for 10 years but still calls himself a New Yorker. Lately, he's doing a lot of stress eating and watching cable news in his sweatpants. You should probably check in with him on Twitter and see how he's doing.

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