7 Productive Ways to De-Stress At Home
Changes to how to safely live daily life are stressful and can feel overwhelming. Humans are notorious for not dealing well with change and uncertainty. It's easy to give in to fear, anxiety, and sadness. No one knows what the future holds. In March of 2020, COVID-19 introduced a new reality for the whole world: a reality where we're all at home pretty much all the time.
What we do know is that we've all been given that extra time that always seemed to be missing. People are staying home, surrounded by family. As tempting as it is to snack on junk food and lay around on the couch to deal, that only ends up contributing to the stress we feel.
There's a lot of advice from so-called experts on social media, trying to comfort us in the moment, feel good opinions. It's okay to eat in excess and gain a bunch of weight. It's perfectly fine to do nothing but watch TV to get through a time when you can’t go out. Don't worry, you don't need to do anything to improve your life. The problem is that those ideas do nothing for our overall well being in the long run. Sure, it might feel great initially, but as the days turn into weeks, you'll find you worse.
While I'm not suggesting that you need to write the next New York Times bestseller or become the next Eric Clapton, there are plenty of ways that you can channel your stress and use the time that you must be at home to your advantage. Below I've compiled a list of productive things you can do right now to de-stress, stay healthy and active, and make the most of being forced to stay at home.
No time like the present to start planning your garden. If the weather is right, you can clear away the brush and start weeding. Plan out the design of your garden and start your prep work.
If it's still too cold in your area, start seeds inside. Clean out your bird feeders and get them set up. Grab out your garden trinkets or make some new ones. Not only are you staying active, weeding is a serious workout, but you are also getting the benefit of fresh air and sunshine. This would be a great activity for the whole family to do together!
This is also a perfect time to clean up your indoor plants. Trim dead leaves and stalks, wash off any dust and repot if necessary.
2. Spring Cleaning
This might not sound like fun, but once you get started, it's incredibly therapeutic! If the weather allows, open the windows, and get rid of all the stale winter build-up. Tackle those tasks you've been putting off around the house. Clean your ceiling fans, scrub your windows and wash your curtains, and wipe off the blinds. Don't forget about the outside of your house. Clean out the gutters and make any minor repairs you can handle. It's also a great time to clean out your car.
After you tackle the house, dive into your closet. Set aside any gently used items that can be donated at a later time. You can also head into your pantry and look for food items that could be donated now.
3. Cook or Bake
Gather the kids in the kitchen for a little science and home economics lesson while having fun. Pull up your Pinterest and try out a new recipe for dinner. Craving something sweet? Look up healthy dessert ideas and get baking! You could also grab out your family's recipes and teach your kids how to make one of grandma's famous dishes. If technology allows, set up a virtual meet-up with extended family as you all cook together. This is a great opportunity to connect with your loved ones and create new traditions with your kids.
4. Arts and Crafts
Art is an amazing outlet. Grab out some coloring books and crayons to color while you listen to music. Try your hand at origami. Hop on YouTube and learn a new drawing skill. This is also the perfect time to create your own summer decor. Make a wreath for your door, a wind chime to hang outside, or create a painting on canvas à la Bob Ross to hang up in the hallway. The possibilities are endless!
This would be a good time to learn that crafting skill you've had your eye on. Dust off that sewing machine and teach yourself how to sew. Look up tutorials to learn crocheting techniques. Embroider a pillowcase or teach your kids important sewing tips. You could also learn how to macrame and make yourself a plant hanger or wall decoration. If you find something you are really good at and thoroughly enjoy, consider starting an Etsy page to sell your crafts.
Nothing helps me deal with stress more than exercise. Channeling any negative feelings into physical activity clears my mind, allows me to focus, and more often than not, ends up changing my perspective on the situation at hand. Yoga is one of my favorite ways to exercise. I practice daily and it has made a big difference in how I feel and how I move. You don't need fancy equipment or clothes to do yoga either. All you need is a mat, carpet, or a towel. Turn on your favorite nature sounds and just move your body or if you are in need of guidance, follow along with a free YouTube video. Yoga has a variety of health benefits and is an excellent way to combat stress.
Sitting still in a quiet place for a length of time is difficult for many people, but can be a game changer for your mental health. Allowing yourself to just be and focus on your breath will give you focus and clarity. Again, you don't need anything fancy and you don't have to chant or make sounds. Find a spot in your home where you can sit undisturbed for just a few minutes. This is great to do in the morning before everyone gets up. Get in a comfortable seated position or you can choose a savasana pose for your meditation. Start by simply breathing. As you inhale and exhale, relax your entire body. Go bit by bit, starting with your feet and working your way up to your shoulders and neck. Once your body is relaxed, clear your mind, and focus on your breath. If thoughts come up, acknowledge them and allow them to go. It's helpful to imagine the thoughts leaving your mind and disappearing into the air around you, like wisps of smoke. Try it for three minutes, setting a timer on your phone, and gradually work yourself up to longer amounts of time. If you find that you can't do it on your own, you can find a video guide on YouTube or download an app for your phone.
7. Gratitude and Perspective
Changing your mindset is powerful and can instantly shift your perspective. One of the best ways to do this is by practicing gratitude. Change your focus on not having something into an appreciation for everything you do have. Much is out of our control, but we each have control over how we view the situation, how we react to it, and our actions moving forward. Instead of being upset about being at home, think about how while you are able to stay home, so many others still have to go out to work every day in dangerous positions. Police officers, firefighters, and paramedics are out dealing with the public and going to people's homes to respond to emergencies. Doctors, nurses, and other health care staff are pulling long hours dealing with sick and injured people. Grocery store staff are doing their best to keep food and necessary items in stock while dealing with rude and hostile customers. Many other employees are reporting to work to make sure we all have what we need. All of these people are away from their families, risking their health every day to help us. That alone should make us all grateful that we can be in the comfort of our own homes.
Take advantage of the technology you have. Video chat with your friends and family or go old school and just have a phone conversation. You might not be able to meet up with friends and family or attend a festival, but in most places, you are still allowed to get outside. Go for a walk or visit a park and take time to express gratitude for nature. Feel the warm sunshine on your skin, notice the flora and fauna all around you, and be thankful for the opportunity to enjoy the fresh air.
When you get up each day, take time to savor your coffee, and mentally list three things for which you are grateful. At night, think of three things to be thankful for in your day before you go to sleep. The more you practice this, the easier it will become. Before long, you'll find yourself expressing gratitude all throughout your day.
In addition to gratitude, there are plenty of productive things you can do out in your own community. If you are out of work, try looking up new job listings in your area. There are numerous companies hiring right now, many offering sign-on bonuses. If you just want to help, look up your state's website to find volunteer or donation opportunities. Not only will this be productive and helpful in reducing your stress, but it will also make you feel good. No one ever accomplished anything by complaining on social media. Be active, seek out opportunities to help, and incorporate a daily gratitude practice.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.