Critter Corner: How to Relieve Stress During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Dear Oakley,

We’ve been home for a month now and every day is the same. I honestly don’t know what day it is anymore, and I’ve lost that excitement that usually came with Fridays or the anxiety when Monday comes again. It feels like I’m the star of the movie, “Groundhog Day,” where every day is the same and you don’t know when it will end.

I’ve never been good about things that are unknown, and I like to have some control over things, and right now I feel like I have none. I fear that a family member who lives nearby or far away will contract coronavirus. What I’m trying to say I am anxious and could use some stress relief right now. Do you have any tips for stress relief during this time?

Thanks!

Dee Zdres

Dear Dee,

It’s common to experience feelings of stress or anxiety right now. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, our lives and schedules have been turned upside down, and the future feels unpredictable.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to help ease your stress. The following are some things I recommend doing to relax your mind and your body:

1. Get some fresh air: We might be stuck at home, but luckily we have had really nice weather lately, so be sure to get outside if you can! Fresh air can help refresh your senses, boosting your physical and mental well-being. If you have a porch or patio, take a seat and try to relax. If not, open a window and practice some deep breathing. Calm your mind and enjoy the breeze.

2. Listen to relaxing music: Do you have the same playlists on repeat? Search through music libraries and find something relaxing to enjoy or try out a playlist put together by someone else on a music streaming app you enjoy.

3. Get organized: Declutter your pantry, your closets, and your storage closet if you choose to do so. Decluttering can help ease your mind.

4. Try New Recipes: If you’re feeling adventurous with food, pick a new recipe to learn. Your family will probably be grateful for the variety, and it’s an opportunity to incorporate healthy foods into your daily diet that nourish your body and brain.

5. Eat foods that boost your mood: Consuming healthy mood-boosting foods can deliver important brain nutrients while positively impacting your well-being. For instance, “(t)hose who consume ample amounts of the omega-3 fat DHA are less prone to depression, aggressiveness and hostility,” according to registered dietitian Elizabeth Somer, author of “Food and Mood” and medical advisory board member for Persona Nutrition. Please see this recent CNN article for more details on the subject.

6. Start a Journal or Blog: Now’s the perfect time to finally start that blog you’ve been thinking about, or dust off that old journal you haven’t touched in ages. Reflection can help you sort your thoughts. And, instead of focusing on the downsides of staying at home, you can consider and write down all the positives. The more you write down what you’re grateful for, the happier you’ll be.

7. Take a Relaxing Bath: A nice, relaxing bath is one of those things you might never find time for normally. Now that you’re at home, it may be easier to fit some rest and relaxation in the tub into your schedule. Take that time for yourself and enjoy the bubbles, herbal soaks, or bath bombs you’ve been meaning to try.

8. Turn Off the News; Watch Something Funny Instead: A good laugh not only takes your mind off of coronavirus but is great for your body and brain. Take a few minutes to laugh by seeking out a few videos to give yourself a break from the news. Animal videos are a great go-to for laughs, but you don’t have to stop there. You may even be able to track down some home videos at your house to watch with your family.

9. Watch Classic Movies: With how stressful the present day is, you can unwind by taking a step into the cinematic past. There are so many classic films to choose from, in all different genres, too. Whether you like comedy, drama, or thrillers, just tune in to Netflix or Prime Video or whatever streaming service you use and start working your way through them. You can watch them by yourself, or schedule a movie night with your family members, Either in person or watching by Zoom.

10. Connect with Others Via Telephone or Facetime or Zoom: Remember when people actually called each other on the telephone? Phone calls can be a thing again during the coronavirus pandemic. Some people are even writing old-fashioned letters since the Postal Service is still operating! We recently used a Zoom meeting to wish my brother a happy birthday with me and one of his sons and many of our cousins from New York and California.

11. Family Game Nights: My family and many others have started doing family game nights via zoom. Classic family games such as dictionary (commercialized under the name Balderdash, but really all you need is a dictionary, whether in print or online) and trivia games are easily adaptable to the Zoom platform. Likely someone in your family has a Zoom subscription which allows you to connect up to 100 users at the same time.

I hope that you and your family are well and that during this time, you stay healthy in body, mind, and spirit.

Sincerely,

Oakley

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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.

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