Looking for ways to clear your mind and calm the anxiety associated with stress?
Talk about times of extreme stress! Both of my children are home from school. The oldest is a teenage girl who is trying to learn how to do independent online learning for the first time in her life.
The other is an 11-year-old boy who has taken to online education like he has been doing it his whole life. She is mad she can’t see her friends, and he is annoyed that I won’t let him play video games even though he finishes his schoolwork in two hours.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced my husband to convert his “night time code for fun” area into his “daytime code for work” office. That’s great that he has the option to do that, but now he has contaminated his fun space with work things, not to mention stolen my “create witty word works” domain, which I need even more now because I have been furloughed from my “day job.”
Sigh…the stress around here is so thick–the dogs won’s stop barking, the kids won’t stop arguing, my husband mutters while he works, and I play music he hates while I write. I needed to find a way to clear my mind and recharge before I ended up moving into the shed–or banishing someone else to it!
During these chaotic and uncertain times, it is essential to understand how stress impacts the human body and psyche, before coming up with ways to combat it. According to Ann Pietrangelo and Stephanie Watson:
Your central nervous system (CNS) is in charge of your “fight or flight” response. In your brain, the hypothalamus gets the ball rolling, telling your adrenal glands to release the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones rev up your heartbeat and send blood rushing to the areas that need it most in an emergency, such as your muscles, heart, and other important organs.
The body and mind need to clear the stress hormones, basically resetting your system, so that you can return to a healthy state.
Here are five ways that you can clear your mind and recharge your internal battery:
- Expand your viewpoint
- Practice Mindfulness
- Take breaks and do a different activity
- Practice aromatherapy
- Take supplements
Expand your viewpoint
While I am not happy about the traumatic childhood I had, I am grateful that I learned this lesson at a young age. My dad disappeared from my life when I was five; then my mom abandoned me at my grandparent’s house.
Even though she was verbally, emotionally, and sometimes physically abusive, at least there was homecooked food and a warm bed. My sister and I never wanted for any worldly things, and frankly, were spoiled rotten.
My coping mechanism to trauma was to remind myself that it could be worse and try and find solace in the “better” things. My sister always focused on the things that were lost, or the things we didn’t have, or pain she suffered. As a result, we grew up to be distinctly different types of people.
My sister once told me that a therapist in prison had said to her something along the lines of, “The only thing we can attribute, as to why people respond differently to similar traumas, is their perspective to it.” Try and remember that right here, and right now, you can control your perspective of this pandemic. One way to do that is to change the way you speak about the situation, for instance, instead of:
“I have lost my job indefinitely, and am trapped in the house with the children, the barking animals, and the sighing man.”
You could try:
“I am grateful that I am still well and will spend as much time with my children as possible. The dogs enjoy their daily walks so much, and I can see how happy they are. I am thankful that my husband can work from home and hasn’t lost his income, too.”
The situation is the same; the only change is the way I have framed it for my brain. Practicing this skill will help clear your mind and calm the anxiety associated with stress.
Physically practicing mindfulness and gratitude is a new concept for me. I understand the need for it and have written about the physical and mental benefits associated with mindfulness. Yet, I always seem to find an excuse as to why I do not have the time required.
Before two days ago, I worked outside the home for 40 hours a week, was in the final term of completing a masters degree, and doing some freelance writing on the side.
It has taken me two days to realize that I needed to be practicing mindfulness in the midst of doing this many tasks, while also being a mom and a wife, and you know, a person in general. Mindfulness would have helped me be less crazy, for sure!
My son and I have done Yoga (for beginners) yesterday and today! I aim to make it part of our daily routine, right after hydrating. I also downloaded the app Headspace, and have been setting aside 3 minutes to practice mindfulness. I love it!
Take Breaks and do a different activity
We have been doing this a lot over the last few days, and the effect it has on everyone is fantastic! Right around 3:00 the children seem a little extra whiny, I can’t imagine writing another single word, and my husband’s sighing and muttering gets louder.
To top it all off, the dogs pick up on everyone’s angst and proceed to get right in my face and bark. It is too much to bear, and for a moment, I want to scream. Then I remember that exercise is an excellent tool for recharging ourselves.
So we pile in the car and drive to the lake and take a mile and a half walk. A pleasant walk in nature will do everyone some good, and when you are done, I promise you will not think living in the shed is a sound plan.
I own a plethora of oils and diffusers and things that smell good, but honestly, I had forgotten that these were tools we could use during this time of change. Here are a few ideas for oils you can use:
- Lavender essential oil for anxiety
- Mandarin essential oil for calm
- Bergamot essential oil to relax
- Neroli essential oil for depression
- Patchouli oil for stress (Don’t bathe in it even though you might be tempted right now!)
Heck, I also have the CBD oil in the diffuser now!
According to Gavin Van De Wall, MS., RD., “Stress is strongly linked to insomnia, a sleep disorder characterized by difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep — or both.” Take some Melatonin.
Glycine will also help you recharge by increasing your body’s opposition to stress. Studies show that it can lower your body temperature and calm the brain, supporting a good night’s sleep. Here are a few other supplements and how they can help:
- Ashwagandha for stress relief
- L-theanine for relaxation and reduced anxiety
- B complex vitamins for improving mood and energy levels
I am going to be ordering a few of these when I place my next grocery pick up order!
I know it’s hard and we are all struggling
The advice in this article is in no way meant to diminish the toll this may be taking on your body and mind. These things may sound easier said than done, especially when the world is falling apart all around us. I believe we are all in this together, and that is how we will get through it!
Please share something that you have done, which helped clear your mind, or made you feel recharged enough to face another day, in the comment section below!
I look forward to hearing how you are making it through these tough times, and if even if you think it is silly or insignificant, it might be just the thing someone else needed to hear.
Everyone reacts to stress differently. I told my husband I was determined to come out on the other side of this with an improved daily routine and a renewed sense of life and purpose. Maybe even a new skill or two! That is how I cope with uncertainty and stress. I have to DO something. If this goes on much longer, I might take up crocheting.
It’s ok if the thought of that makes you cringe, and you are just trying to figure out how to find the energy to shower. There is no judgment here; in fact, the next time I feel like moving into the shed, maybe I will drag myself into the shower for a nice soak!