Tips, Tricks & Tales from the SESA Beverage Lab
Stress: The New Normal
With the changing of the seasons and life opening back up, not to mention current events, we are still finding ourselves in a stressful situation. Perhaps even more now that we have to decide which activities we feel are safe for us and for our families, we can feel some extra stress in our daily lives. We know that stress can cause all sorts of health issues from inflammation to immune system depression, so it is imperative that we develop routines and methods for keeping ourselves healthy and reducing our stress levels. In this two-part blog post, we’ve compiled a list of 16 tips on how to maintain your sanity and reduce your stress levels now and going forward. Here you’ll find the first 8 tips for keeping your chin up and for staying healthy in mind and body.
Read on for our top tips!
Stick to a Routine
We all thrive more when we have routines that we prescribe to. From going to sleep and waking up at a reasonable time to setting regular work hours, demarcating the day can help us feel productive and get going even on the toughest mornings. When you develop your routine, make sure that you include time for self-care and fun! Also remember that our basic routines like washing your face and brushing your teeth can act as self-care if we do them with intention. Make sure you have your morning and evening routine and stick to them as best you can, so that you get a good night’s sleep and wake up ready to tackle the day.
Spend Time Outside
Try to be outside at least once a day for thirty minutes. Get some fresh air -- it’s amazing what the simplicity of fresh air can do for the spirit! If possible, spend time in nature and reconnect with the earth. By doing this, we can take a mindful moment to get out of our heads and reflect on the beauty of this world. If you can’t get out in nature, at least try opening the windows and blasting a fan to circulate rejuvenating fresh air in your home.
Spend some time moving your body each day, ideally for at least thirty minutes. It has been shown that exercise reduces cortisol levels and improves mood. If you can’t get to an exercise class, try taking a walk outside or searching YouTube for some great at-home exercise routines. If all else fails, simply turn up the music and have a dance party!
Connect with Family + Friends
Humans thrive on social connection. In fact, it is fundamental to our survival. Make sure that you take time to engage with others for at least thirty minutes each day. This can be as simple as a quick phone call to a friend or a family member. Through connecting with others we can both seek and provide support during a stressful time.
Drink plenty of water and nourish yourself with healthy foods. It may feel obvious that we can take care of ourselves through our diet, but often stress and eating don’t go hand-in-hand. We can often find ourselves alternately over-eating or avoiding food altogether. Make sure you pay attention to when and what you eat and drink. You can even think about trying to learn a new recipe!
Develop a Self-Care Toolkit
Self-care toolkits are a great way of encouraging regular self-care and taking the stress out of deciding how to take care of oneself to begin with. These are totally individualized, so your kit will be unique to you, but there are some general strategies to follow when deciding what to include. Many strategies suggest including one item for each of the senses (touch, taste, sight, hearing, smell, movement, and comforting pressure).
Some ideas are a soft blanket or stuffed animal, chocolate, photos of vacations or happy memories, comforting music, essential oils, a small swing or rocking chair, and a weighted blanket. Some other items that one can include are a journal, inspirational book of quotes or poetry. Blowing bubbles or blowing watercolor through a straw on paper both work to regulate breath and are visually appealing. Strong mints, ginger ale, ice packs, and cold items are also good for regulating anxiety. You can even create a simple list of ideas for how to do self-care that you can include in your kit so you needn’t be overwhelmed when trying to come up with an activity to calm yourself down. This list can include ideas such as taking a hot bath, going for a walk, or listening to a guided meditation.
Give Everyone the Benefit of the Doubt
Stress can bring out the worst in a person. Everyone will have moments when they are not at their best. Plain and simple. It is important that we move with grace through situations in which others may not be living in accordance with their values. Do not show up to every argument you are invited to and do not hold grudges or continue disagreements. Remember that everyone is just doing the best they can within the context of their personal circumstances. Be compassionate to the experiences of others and they will be more likely to be compassionate to yours.
Practice Radical Self-Acceptance
Lower your expectations. We are all doing many things, often while experiencing fear and stress at the same time. In these circumstances, excellence is a near impossibility. Instead give yourself the space for what psychologists call “radical self-acceptance”. This is the practice of accepting everything about yourself, your situation and your life without question, blame or pushback. Remember your stress is real, accept its presence and treat yourself with compassion.
A Note on Stress
Sometimes stress gets to be too much. If you are feeling overwhelmed, clinically depressed or have any thoughts of harming yourself or others, please reach out for help immediately. There is no shame in seeking or needing assistance and there are folks available 24/7 to talk. If you are having trouble call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or to get connected with a crisis text line, text NAMI or HOME to 741741 and look at the NAMI website for further resources on mental health.