Most of the days in lockdown may well seem to look alike: waking up, thinking of everything you must catch up with, eating, rushing with work, and so on. It can be quite repetitive, and I am sure you have heard thousand times that things will get better, but sometimes that is just not enough.
We often feel truly stressed and somehow uncomfortable in our own skin. Thinking about all the chores to complete, we push the emotions down to convince ourselves that we will get over it. However, sometimes it feels simply impossible. Because April is Stress Awareness Month, I would like to talk about my experience with stress and overcoming it.
I was thinking about how we create stressful environments for ourselves during one of my usual walks in nature. Having listened to lectures and oversaturating my brain with information for the whole day, I decided to escape to get some fresh air. After closing the front door, I immediately put on my earphones and started listening to a podcast.
When I came to the forest, I found myself worrying about the upcoming deadline and not even listening to the podcast. I had no idea what it was about, or how long I had walked for. I had to stop and put the earphones off. The need to calm down and just be comfortable with myself was enormous.
This experience influenced me, and I thought about we rush for everything instead of letting ourselves slow down. The stress culminates easily, especially during a global pandemic. We all experience lack of social contact and a need for offloading. The worries can make the hard times even harder, and I think that the pandemic reached us unprepared to cope with our own stress.
I came home inspired from that walk, with a head full of thoughts and I had walked for almost three hours. What did I realise? I think that it just reminded me to appreciate the capacity to positively direct the mindset. The magic lies in radiating good energy not only towards ourselves but also to the -people around us. Nonetheless, it is not easy to achieve that, and feeling relaxed is crucial.
Now, let me put the cards on the table: all we have is an ongoing pandemic (hopefully heading towards a brighter future), our stress, our home environments, and outdoor areas. What can we do to minimise the stress? I guess there is no right or wrong answer here, and because everyone is different, do not expect a universal pattern. What I can offer you, dear reader, are some tips which help me to calm down and leave the worries behind.
Pursue your culinary skills
I mean it. Good food really means good mood and especially when you enjoy it with your loved ones. It does not matter whether you are a pro or an ultimate beginner, there are so many great recipes out there. Being currently in lockdown with my family, we have this tradition of cooking worldwide meals. It is much easier to pretend you are on holidays in Italy while eating spaghetti Frutti di Mare, or in India enjoying Chicken Tikka Masala. Baking is the next level, and I really found a passion in it. Recently, I tried cardamom buns and vanilla cheesecake and they were just amazing!
Moving my body for at least 30 minutes a day
This is closely tied to the previous point. There is no better feeling than enjoying the food after a hike, walk, or run. I know that the same route for a walk near your home can feel rather boring, so I am always trying to find the time and explore fewer common surroundings. It literally clears my mind and there is no denying the biological benefit of fresh air intake to our brain. Also, because we all know that sitting in front of a screen can be painful, I really recommend trying yoga every morning or whenever it suits you. It can do miracles with your muscles. For the thinkers, you can also try meditation.
Here are some snaps from my walks. They get even better when you meet a lovely dog.
Write the bad emotions away
This can be a tough one. Speaking for myself, I have often tried to keep up a diary but usually stopped after a while. However, being in contact with my closest friends really helped me during stressful times. No matter whether it is a phone call or texting, speaking to someone can be a huge help I even stay in touch with some of my friends by writing letters. Sounds old-school, but it really feels adventurous and makes me think about my emotions deliberately and choose the words more wisely.
Give your thoughts space and realise that it is normal to feel blue sometimes
Personally, I can often feel stressed about not being productive enough. Sometimes, we can be too harsh on ourselves. These times challenge our mindsets a lot, so why not admit that we deserve to rest? Sounds like a cliché, I know, but it is much harder to act in accordance with it. Keep in mind that we are all in the same boat when it comes to such feelings and just need to find what helps us in our own way.
Looking back at the beginning of my small contemplation, I sincerely hope that you were able to de-stress a bit while reading this. It is not meant to be a guide, but rather just a flow of thoughts written by a girl often feeling happy, but also sad and stressed, like all of us. Hopefully you are safe wherever you are, and it reminds you to take some rest to organise your thoughts. Your brain and body will thank you.