Five simple habits that can help ease stress

By: Nia Howard

This blog post was adapted from Steve Gross’s video: Losing Your Mind? These 5 Amazingly Simple Habits Will Help Ensure You Don’t.

When we find ourselves in times of uncertainty and great anxiety, we often turn our attention to things we can’t control. Right now, for instance, we might be asking ourselves: What if I get laid off? Will the economy ever rebound? Will my family and I be okay? When will things go back to normal?

The thing is, when we let our minds run wild with worries and “what ifs,” our mental and physical health can fall by the wayside. However, we can choose to focus on the things we can control to help combat the cycle of anxiety (bonus points if they’re habits that give us a sense of normalcy, too).

To help us do that, Steve Gross, the founder of the Life is Good nonprofit—The Life is Good Playmakers— compiled a list of 5 things we can do to help us stay sane.

HABIT #1: HYDRATION

It has always been important to stay hydrated, but in the midst of a health crisis, it’s crucial. Experts suggest that drinking 11- 16 cups of water per day can help prevent infection, keep organs and cells functioning properly, and improve your sleep quality and overall mood.

TIPS: Download an app on your phone that tracks your hydration goals & reminds you to drink water throughout the day. Mix it up a bit! Add berries, cucumber, or citrus to your water for a fun twist.

HABIT #2: EXERCISE

Exercise, while not only a great way to relieve stress and stave off anxiety, can also help reduce your health risks. Whether it’s going for a quick walk with your dog or doing an at-home workout, physical activity is a great and productive way to make you stronger and take your mind off everyday stress.

TIPS: Download at-home workouts that keep track of your progress. Make it fun and do a group workout with some friends or family via video chat. Try yoga, tai chi, or qigong for an activity that quiets the mind!

HABIT #3: NUTRITION

When you’re stuck at home all day, it’s easy to snack like there’s no tomorrow. And stress eating? We’ve all been there, done that. But we need strong immune systems right now, so we should be mindful of maintaining good nutrition. Every body is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all nutrition plan. However, there are online resources that can help you develop a healthy nutrition practice that works for you, especially in times like these.

TIPS: Try new recipes that optimize healthy (but delicious) ingredients. Challenge yourself to try one new fruit or veggie per week!

HABIT #4: SOCIALIZATION

Sure, we’re social distancing, but that doesn’t mean we have to be anti-social. Now, more than ever, it’s important that we maintain relationships. Whether it’s through a video chat, phone call, or any other virtual message, make sure to take time out of your day to link up with friends or family. It can help us feel less alone in a time of isolation.

TIPS: Have some fun! Set up an online game night, host a virtual dance party or “attend” a livestream concert with friends via video chat, or get your work team together for a happy hour.

HABIT #5: SLEEP

We’re in a time of heightened stress, which means our sleep is likely to suffer. But it’s important to maintain good sleep hygiene. According to experts, sleep affects almost every system in our body and helps us maintain a healthy immune system and mental state. Even though it might be difficult right now, it’s crucial to set aside time to sleep, and to sleep well.

TIPS: Try going to bed at the same time each night, and wake up at the same time each morning! Wind down before bed with some self-care: try a relaxing face mask, drink a cup of herbal tea, and try reading, meditation, or deep breathing. If natural remedies or healthy habits don’t help poor sleep, please reach out to your health care provider for support.

Steve Gross
Founder & Chief Playmaker
Life is Good Playmakers

Steve Gross is a clinical social worker and a pioneer in the field of using playful engagement and relationships to overcome the devastating impact of early childhood trauma.

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