How to Relieve Stress, Stay Safe and Enjoy Life During a Pandemic
Not-so-fun-fact: the coronavirus is making things really, really, really boring. Yes, we know – you wouldn’t think a global pandemic could be a yawner, huh? Sure, the vaccine has given us something to look forward to and we’re not just talking about a shot in the arm literally, but figuratively too. We all want life to return to the way it was with touches, hugs and admit it, less sanitizer. But as more and more months pass with social distancing and must-wear masks there is still more spare time in our lives than say a year ago. Add to the fact that there are few public sporting events, no large venue events and very little desire to return to public places where strangers might cough and sneeze. And, we still have two months to go before winter is over. No wonder nearly everyone feels those stir-crazy feelings creep in.
According to Lauren Murray, a clinical psychologist and associate scientist at Johns Hopkins University, School of Public Health in the Department of Mental Health and International Health, “…[we’re] not really great about endless time at home, not really knowing what to do with yourself.” (Preach it, sister.) In other words, human beings aren’t great at having free time.
As it turns out, too much spare time can actually increase our stress. When you’re bored, your mind tends to go in circles (and start worrying more and more, especially when you’re in the middle of uncertain times). Boredom also leads to lethargy, social isolation, depression and a slew of other things that can lead to poor health – physically and mentally.
But! Never fear. There are plenty of things you can do to help keep boredom at bay and make social restrictions a little more – dare we say it – fun. Best of all, these ideas are backed by science to help reduce your stress and improve your mental, physical and emotional health. Instead of watching yet another television show, why not…
Take a hike.
Sure, you’re still social distancing. We get that. But going outside and walking doesn’t just provide exercise – it also boosts mental health! Taking just a 15-minute walk every day (except maybe when there’s snow and ice on the sidewalk) makes you happier, reduces feelings of boredom, improves your outlook and even makes you feel more creative. Plus, there are many studies that show both fresh air and sunlight have antibacterial properties – not anti-viral properties, though. At the very least, throw open the windows or take time to sit outside in the sun for a little bit to get the benefit of the great outdoors.
This is different than what we’ve all been doing on the sofa these last many months. This is grabbing small dumbbells or a couple of cans of corn, placing equal weight in each hand and moving those arms! Strengthening your muscles prevents osteoporosis and frailty by stimulating the growth of muscle and bone. You’ll find all kinds of exercises for our “mature” age group on YouTube. Speaking of that…
Find your “om.”
Feeling antsy? Anxious? Nervous? Grab a yoga mat, find your favorite YouTube yoga channel and practice some stretching and breathing. This is a great exercise for all ages – and you can even go outside to get some extra sunlight and happiness. Yoga improves flexibility, is good exercise and also boosts your emotional and mental health. There are real yoga classes that can even be done while sitting in a chair. Even with limited mobility, there’s little excuse.
Hold a dance party.
Who doesn’t love listening to or playing music? There are many viral videos out there showing people singing or playing music while hanging out at home, which has proven to improve mental health and improve a sense of belonging. Throw an impromptu dance party with favorite songs from your past. You can even stream some dance lessons over the internet and see if you still have muscle memory for the foxtrot, twist or two-step. Go on – dance to their heart’s content!
Throw a coloring party.
Adult coloring books have experienced a huge surge of popularity in the past several years because of science. No, really. Studies have shown that coloring complex geometric patterns leads to a meditative state that helps calm our minds, reduces anxiety and brings a sense of peace. And unlike toilet paper and hand sanitizer, Amazon is not expecting to run out of coloring books– along with colored pencils, crayons and markers. You can choose from complex patterns to animal pictures to even motivational swear words (if you’re into that) and let the coloring begin!
Hunt for Hidden Treasure
When is the last time you dumped out that junk drawer in the kitchen or opened the box in the back of the closet? Winter is a great time to declutter your space. How many sets of dishes do we really need? And, what about all of those barely used guest towels in the back of the linen closet? Maybe it’s time to use the nice stuff and donate or throw away the old. Removing items we no longer need, or that have little sentimental value, can be liberating! When spring rolls around and everyone else gets the itch to clean and declutter, you’ll be way ahead of them and outside enjoying the new season!
We know this is can be a stressful and boring time for everyone – particularly seniors living at home alone, who are the most at-risk in our society. While there’s not much we can do besides wash our hands, social distance and wait in line for the vaccine, there’s no reason we can’t find a new way to pass the time and take care of ourselves. Thanks to the wonders of the internet and technology, there are many ways to bring the outside inside and stay entertained and happy.
If those ideas above sound like they’d be more fun with other people around, give us a call at 913-744-2447. Lakeview Village Retirement Community is giving in-person tours of independent living options. Come see what we’re all about.