Recent studies in India have suggested that there has been an unprecedented rise in stress-related issues amongst people since the first national lockdown was announced earlier in March. Due to anxiety, job cuts, salary cuts, health concerns, and an increasingly volatile environment, stress levels amongst Indians are high. But while the times may be tough, it’s important to ensure we do whatever we can to keep our stress levels under control and stay positive as in the long run this can have both mental as well as physical implications.
Here are 3 simple tips which when followed regularly can help alleviate stress.
Focus on maintaining a healthy and nutritious diet, always!
Eating right has several benefits – physical, mental, and even emotional! You will be surprised how big a role a healthy and nutrient-dense diet can play in controlling stress – both physical and mental. Include all the food groups like whole grains, pulses/dals, vegetables, fruits, nuts, dairy, egg & meat (if you are non-vegetarian) in the right quantities for better physical and mental health. According to a study people tend to eat less healthy food during stressful times This could be changed by reaching out to more nutritious options like fruits or sprouts or almonds or muesli or an omelet or a piece of bitter chocolate to satisfy a snack craving when stressed. In fact, according to a recent study conducted at King’s College London, by simply revising one’s dietary strategy to include almonds, a person can increase cardiovascular resilience to mental stress in addition to reducing LDL-cholesterol and improving the endothelial function of the blood vessels (as shown in other studies) – thereby improving cardiac risk factors. Merely by replacing unwholesome snacks with almonds, people who are suffering from CVD or are at risk can make a healthy difference in their lives. So, when you feel like snacking amid a long workday, grab a handful of almonds or a fresh fruit or a bowl of salad or any other nutritious snack instead of reaching out for wafers, namkeens or biscuits.
De-stress with exercise
Exercise is known to be a stress buster! Studies show that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and enhancing overall cognitive function. The physical benefits of regular exercise are also several: better sleep, strengthened immunity, and lowered blood pressure and blood glucose are some of them. And while the lockdown may have been lifted in several states across India, many continue to follow social distancing as a precaution. Going to the gym, out for a walk or a quick run might not be an option for many, but there are quite a few routines that can easily be practiced at home. This could be something as simple as doing some yoga asanas, floor exercises, or climbing the stairs several times a day. Or if you would prefer something more organized and official, the virtual world has tons to offer. You could join an online Zumba or Pilates class, or follow a YouTube workout, or better even, plan a group workout session with your friends/family. Exercising regularly increases your overall health and sense of well-being.
Break from screen-time
From the moment we wake up in the morning until we go to sleep and set the alarm for the next day, we spend copious amounts of time watching videos, scrolling through photos, and working (in the new normal). You might not realize this, but spending a large amount of time in front of the various screens (smartphones, laptops, tablets, television, etc.) also has an impact on your stress level. To counter this, work towards actively reducing your screen time – whenever feasible. For example, when you’re working, take frequent breaks, clean your house, play with your pet, water the plants, or just sit in a cross-legged position and meditate. This might help you unwind and calm your nerves. Also, limit the use of any devices at least one hour before bedtime and after waking up in the mornings. One way to do that is to leave your phone, laptop, iPad, or any other device in a different room, instead of your bedroom. On weekends, when you have extended periods of free time, instead of adding to your screen time, pick up a new hobby or indulge in some arts and crafts activity, decorate your house or try cooking a new healthy dish instead of binge-watching films or videos.