Between the Coronavirus, Unemployment Rates and George Floyd's death, stress is omnipresent in the media and our everyday lives. Lingering stress brings potentially serious health effects. Here are a few ways to manage stress on a daily basis:
- Exercise – Physical exercise is a great way to deal with stress. We’ve looked at the effects of exercise on cognition before and how it measurably supports strong mental function and has a drastic impact on depression and tension. During physical exercise, we actively engage stresses in the body, with various systems and chemical components all coming together with one goal—to alleviate the stress. Exercise increases our endorphin output: think runner’s high. It can also improve our mood and help alleviate stress-related depression or anxiety. This relief improves our sleep patterns, and a happy, healthy cycle is born.
- Meditate – If you haven’t done it before, it can seem a little pie-in-the-sky. But the research supports its effectiveness. Find a dimly lit room and get into a physical position that will be comfortable for several minutes without moving. Now, with your eyes closed, think or say aloud a single word or sound repetitively, such as, “one, one, one, one,” and so on, in a rhythmic way. This sensory deprivation and repetition of thought will help clear your mind and allow you to just be. It can be difficult to master, but the benefits are clear.
- Breathe – Clearly, you breathe. However, intentional breathing exercises can help to alleviate stress. Much of this is simply intentionally taking deep breaths to fill the chest and abdomen, then slowly breathing out. Focus on pulling the air in and pushing it out. You’ll note its similarity to mediation—focusing on a single, repetitive task. You may even combine these techniques: deep, intentional breathing while thinking or reciting a word or phrase.
- Write It Out – For some, writing about their feelings will help sort out and rationalize those feelings. The assignment is simple: write for x amount of time about the stressor in your life. Studies have been done concerning particularly traumatic or stressful events. Others have shown that focusing on the object of stress—say, worries about testing positive for the Coronavirus—can help. In one example, a class was about to take a big test. Some students wrote out their feelings of anxiety for several minutes before the test. Those students performed better than those who didn’t complete the exercise.
The effects of the events of 2020 have had a disproportionate impact on Black Americans. Here are some additional resources if you're looking for additional support and community:
How do you deal with stress? Do you mix it up, or do you have your one thing that really helps keep your stress at bay? Tell us all about it! Don’t stress out—HOTSHOT's just a click away on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.