It is important to take care of yourself during these stressful times. Along with the normal stressors of paying bills and taking care of our families, we are now facing a viral enemy that is threatening our lives and those of our loved ones.
Even without the pandemic, American Psychological Association (APA) found in a 2019 survey, over three-quarters of adults experience emotional or physical symptoms caused by stress. With the shuttering of gyms, beauty salons, and spas, it has been hard to find ways to alleviate the stress that can cause fatigue, sleeplessness, and headaches.
There is also evidence stress can be deadly. According to the APA, stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide. More than 75% of physicians' office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
According to Wallet Joy, taking care of yourself is the key to reducing stress. Practicing self-care might be more important now more than ever to preserve your mental and physical well-being. The counselors at North Carola State University define self-care as "an approach to living that incorporates behaviors that refresh you, replenish your personal motivation and help you grow as a person."
Here are a few simple ways to practice self-care that will not cost a cent.
- Move your body. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says, over 80% of Americans do not get enough strength and endurance exercise which can lead to poor mental health. There are a plethora of exercise apps and online videos on YouTube to get you moving. Planet Fitness is livestreaming free daily "work-ins" at the gym's Facebook page at 7 p.m. ET. It is free even for non-members.
- Meditate. According to Wallet Joy, meditation has been found to reduce anxiety, depression and insomnia. Insight Timer offers a free app with a wide variety of meditations geared to all levels. The free version of the popular app, Calm, offers timed meditations, and breathing exercises.
- Breathe. Speaking of breathing, Heidi Hanna, PhD, The New York Times bestselling author of The SHARP Solution and Stressaholic, tells Newsmax that slow, deliberate breathing is a great stress reducer. "Shape your breath," she says. "Inhale to a count of 5 and exhale to a count of 6. By extending your exhale you initiate the relaxation response that balances the hormones in your brain and body."
- Soak in sunshine. "Spending time in nature, especially when the sun is shining, can help your nervous system relax and recharge," Hanna said. "If possible, try to find some moving water like a waterfall or ocean waves crashing to help facilitate relaxation."
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