This social distancing thing is hard on a lot of us.
Work, friends, family, and your social life are all on hold for the time being. With these things temporarily stripped away, your daily routine has no doubt shifted dramatically. For those of us who are not ‘essential’ workers, we are now seemingly sentenced to a prison stay, but the standard 8×8 cell has been replaced with the comfort of our own homes.
Now I joke when I say prison sentence as the comfort of your own home is no doubt much more comfortable than actually being incarcerated, but cabin fever and all the changes this quarantine have brought about can still leave us stressed out of our minds.
With that being said, we wanna help. So we’re here to offer up seven solutions you can do that might just help alleviate some stress and ward off cabin fever for just one more day.
#1) Low intensity cardio
If any of you know either Matt or myself, cardio is usually not the first thing we prescribe clients as it almost ALWAYS takes a back seat to strength training. However, these are different times.
And while we’re all for lifting heavy ass weights to get you stronger, sometimes your body just needs something a little lighter. Low intensity cardio, such as walking, is a great way to stimulate recovery efforts within your body without causing any more undue stress on your joints or nervous system. Plus, low intensity cardio can effectively increase stroke volume in the heart (how much blood your ticker pumps per beat), cause a dopamine response in the body (thats the feel good hormone), increase oxygen delivery capabilities in the muscles, and increase cardiac output (thus decreasing your susceptibility to fatigue).
All of this makes your body more resilient to fight the effects of non-exercise stressors, like, oh I don’t know, being stuck in your house because of a virus pandemic.
The key thing is to remember, you wanna perform low-medium intensity cardio. You’re not trying to break records. Think of this as therapeutic cardio.
#2) Breathing drills
Did you know that breathing is the only aspect of our nervous system that we can actively control? Which means that our ability to breathe correctly has a HUGE impact on how we feel, move, and recover.
This means it also plays a huge factor in how we combat stress.
Box breathing is a simple, but effective method in causing a shift into parasympathetic dominance, or our ‘rest and digest’ state. This is when recovery efforts in the body are at an all time high and our ability to combat stress peaks. Here’s how to do it.
Lay on your back, with your knees bent at 90 degrees.
Place one hand on your belly, one hand on your chest.
As you inhale for 4 seconds, try to focus on your chest and belly rising simultaneously.
Focus feeling your ribs come down as you exhale FULLY.
Repeat the box breathing directions as laid out in the infographic above.
If you do this correctly, you should feel a noticeable difference in how you feel compared to completing the breathing drill.
Do you know what form of exercise can serve as low intensity cardio and focus on breathing all at once?
If you guessed yoga, give yourself a gold star.
Yoga can be an incredible way to improve mobility, work on breathing technique, get a sweat going without murdering yourself, and mentally ‘lose yourself’ for an hour… which could be very needed at a time like this.
The great thing about yoga is that you’ll take your joints and body through various and larger ranges of motion that aren’t necessarily a daily practice for most. This is incredibly important for joint health because joint health is dependent on the ranges that we take them through. If you don’t regularly take your joints through ALL of their available ranges, you’ll lose it.
Yoga helps fight this.
But don’t worry if you’re unsure of how or what to do for yoga. There are plenty of studios offering virtual options at a time like this, like Balanced Planet Yoga in Marlton. They offer virtual classes you can participate in right from the comfort of your living room.
Listen, there is NO better way to combat the stress brought about by COVID-19 than to get some quality sleep. Adequate sleep will literally fortify your immune system, regulate hormones, repair your body, and give you a clean slate, so to speak, every day that you wake up.
So when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. If this quarantine has left you temporarily unemployed, turn off that alarm clock and SLEEP. Now before you green light the decision to stay up until 1am binging Netflix and then sleep in, realize that’s not the same thing. You’re not looking to disrupt your sleep cycle entirely. You’re looking to take advantage of an extra hour or two in the morning to sleep a bit more.
Don’t be an ass.
#4) Thrusting partner planks
The horizontal mambo.
Cattle-prodding the oyster ditch with the tan banana.
Sex, people. We’re talking about sex.
Come on, we’re all adults here, right? And the fact of the matter is that sex releases a cocktail of feel good hormones that can help alleviate pain, induce feelings of relaxation, and make you sleep better. That sounds like a total win when it comes to battling stress if you ask us.
So put on some Barry White and light some candles later.
#5 Progressive muscle relaxation
A ton of us are so tight and wound up that we don’t know how much excess muscle tension we’re currently harboring because we’re just so used to it. Corona doesn’t help this. So try this out.
Lay on the floor or bed, body straight, arms by your side.
Take a big inhale, exhale slowly, and focus on completely relaxing your neck muscles. Only focus on relaxing your neck muscles.
With every exhale, imagine the air leaving your body is a dimmer switch to muscular tension in your neck. As the air leaves your lungs, so does the tension in your neck. Do this for 3-5 breaths. When you feel like your neck is totally relaxed, repeat this process for your traps and shoulders.
Then move down to your chest. Then arms. Then glutes. Then quads. Then…. you get the point.
By the end of this, you should feel like a blob of relaxed muscles incapable of moving… but it’ll feel awesome.
#6 Guided meditation
Not all of us are blessed to be able to meditate by ourselves in silence. Some of us need a little help to get going. That’s what makes apps like calm and headspace so awesome. These apps will actually take you through 1, 3, 5, 10 or even longer guided mediation sessions.
These can be a great way to empty your head, relax, and give your body the much needed break it probably needs. And just like exercise, every little bit helps. If you think 1 or 3 minute mediation sessions won’t make a difference, you’re sadly misinformed. There’s a saying about meditation that might change how you view it:
If you don’t have time to meditate for 5 minutes, then you need to meditate for an hour.
Think about it 😉
#7 Whatever floats your boat
Look, there are a ton of ways to alleviate stress, and methods will vary greatly from person to person. So while the above options are generally going to work for a majority of people across the board, find what works for you!
Listen to music
Find your stress killer and use it!