The coronavirus pandemic is stressful, creating fear and anxiety in people of all ages. Dealing with that stress is an important part of your physical and emotional health.
Losing sleep? Trouble concentrating or feeling irritable? Perhaps you find yourself dwelling on COVID-19 and can’t disengage. All of these are signs anxiety may be getting to you.
The good news? There are plenty of proven strategies to help you cope, stay healthy and remain resilient, said Dr. Russell Greenfield of Novant Health Integrative Medicine. “While exercise is a good start, there’s also yoga, meditation, healthy eating and aromatherapy,” Greenfield said.
Here are some of Greenfield’s tips for connecting with your mind and body to reduce anxiety and manage stress.
Research shows that yoga can improve flexibility and balance and enhance heart health. Here are two simple yoga moves that can help everyone in your house stretch and relax.
- 15-second nerve-soother: Inhale gently through your nose. As you do so, draw both shoulders up toward your ears in a big shrug. Exhale through your mouth with a big sigh as you relax your shoulders toward your hips. Repeat three times.
- Palm tree post: Stand with feet hip width apart, interlace fingers and place your palms on top of your head. With fingers still interlaced, inhale and rotate palms upward toward the ceiling as you stretch your arms straight up and roll onto the balls of your feet. Exhale with a long sigh and gently return to starting position. Repeat three times.
Another great way to calm your mind is with simple meditation. Many phone apps, such as Calm and Headspace, are offering free access during this time to help support wellness.
Following a healthy diet can help manage stress and lower anxiety. Here are some nutrition tips.
• Enjoy a variety of brightly colored vegetables and fruits
• Incorporate healthy spices in cooking, such as turmeric or freshly crushed garlic
• Eat more beans, legumes, nuts and seeds as protein sources
• Avoid fast food, especially fried items
• Avoid overindulging in snack foods such as chips, pretzels and sweets (although an occasional spurge can soothe our spirits)
• Drink plenty of water or green tea
• Limit alcohol to small amounts and no more than twice a week
Bottom line: The Mediterranean diet, often referred to as an anti-inflammatory diet, is a simple eating plan that will help you stay healthy.
Greenfield also recommends exploring these websites for more great tips on how eating can help reduce stress and bring balance to your body.
• Diet and weight advice from Healthy Headlines
Research shows that certain scents can calm anxiety and help us cope. Novant Health aromatherapist Pippa Purcell shares her thoughts in a brief three-minute video about aromatherapy and essential oils for your home.
North Carolina residents who are in emotional distress – or would like guidance on helping someone they know who is struggling – can call a free 24-hour helpline at 800-718-3550 to speak with a counselor. The service, provided by Novant Health, connects callers with a master’s level therapist who can offer immediate guidance and help determine possible next steps, which could include a further assessment or connection to community resources for those in need.