According to yearly surveys conducted by the American Psychological Association, stress is on the rise and quickly becoming a public health crisis. And this was before the emergence of Covid-19, which has added an extra layer of stress and anxiety. Recognising and managing stress is vital to maintaining mental and physical health. Here we’ll look at five fun activities to reduce the stress that can be done at home.
Get a Massage
Both chronic and acute stress can negatively affect health, leading to physical symptoms ranging in nature from tense muscles to high blood pressure. According to Earthlite, massage can be a powerful healing tool that can combat muscle tension and other pain caused by stress. Massage therapists often offer in-home appointments for clients, reducing the risk of Covid-19 exposure to patients. But, the health benefits of massage aren’t limited to seeing professionals—getting a massage from a loved one or even giving yourself one offers the same health benefits.
A workout, even if it’s just a short one, releases dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters help regulate mood, making regular exercise one of the most common suggestions for combating stress. The type of exercise doesn’t matter as much as getting the heart rate up. For those who don’t enjoy “regular” exercise, following along to online dance videos and similar activities can be a fun alternative.
Word Puzzles and Games
Racing, recurring thoughts are a common sign of stress. This is because the brain recognises that something is wrong and is trying to figure out the cause of the issue and how to deal with it. According to Dr. Debra Kissen, giving the brain a task to focus on makes it easier to figure out and deal with whatever is causing the stress. Crossword puzzles, word games, and brain teasers are all fun ways to focus the brain away from circling thoughts. For those who don’t enjoy word puzzles and games, reading offers the same benefits.
Practice a New Skill
Along the same lines, learning a new skill is a fun, easy way to keep the brain occupied rather than hyper-focused on stress. For example, research has shown that, for some women, knitting reduces anxiety and increases focus. This works when learning any new skill, many of which can be done from home. Think online baking or cooking classes, language learning, calligraphy, or genealogy.
As reported by Mindful, there is growing scientific evidence for the idea that practising mindfulness reduces stress. Mindfulness is maintaining moment-to-moment awareness no matter what you are doing: training the brain to focus on what is happening now, and only that. Learning mindfulness takes practice and includes lots of fun techniques to rewire the brain to focus on the present. One technique is mindfully eating something, by redirecting the brain to only focus on the food itself: what does it smell like, how does it look on the plate, and what is the temperature.
We’re living in extra stressful times, and learning to recognise and manage stress is just as important to our health as taking vitamins and eating right. Research has shown that these five ideas reduce stress and anxiety. The fact that they’re fun and can be done from home is a bonus that makes them especially relevant for the times.