Let’s face it: 2020 has been uncommonly stressful. Between COVID-19, the U.S. election, lockdowns, riots, and postal service delays, it’s hardly been a relaxing year. Americans have been profoundly impacted by stress this year and, according to the American Psychological Association, the U.S. is facing a mental health crisis. It’s more important than ever to take care of ourselves and practice some holistic wellness.
The Lowdown on Stress
Nearly 19% of the United States population reports having worse mental health this year than in previous years. With the amount of stress we’ve all faced this year, it’s no surprise. But how exactly does stress impact mental health?
Stress by itself isn’t a psychological diagnosis. However, it can cause mental health problems and exacerbate existing problems. When you experience stress, your body releases the hormones cortisol and adrenaline that are prevalent during what is called the “fight, flight, or freeze” response. Your heartbeat may become more rapid, your muscles tighten, and your blood pressure rises. This response was beneficial back in the days when humans had to run away from bears and wolves, but even all those millennia ago, it was a short term solution.
Today, our bodies and brains can’t differentiate between a deadline at work or the uncertainty of a global pandemic and the immediate danger of a bear. Under chronic stress, your body’s emergency system is constantly on high alert. This can suppress your immune system, cause aches and pains, sleep problems, digestive problems, depression or anxiety, and cognition problems. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to mitigate the negative impacts of stress.
Establishing a Routine
Believe it or not, but the sudden lack of structure that we’ve all faced in the face of COVID-19 is highly stressful. One way you can reduce your daily stress is to create a routine. A regular routine helps you feel productive, focused and centered. Create a routine that adds structure and an element of predictability to your life. Pick a specific time to wake up and eat breakfast. Decide which days you’re going to exercise and when that will happen. Set up times to speak with friends over Zoom or on the phone. Most of all, set aside time every day for activities that you love.
Taking Care of Yourself
Depending on where you are in the United States, your local salon and spa may or may not be open. If you’re in a state where salon and spa services are available, take full advantage of these. Hairstylists and aestheticians offer a feeling of wellbeing and peace of mind just by providing their services. Spas and salons are, even in the time of COVID-19, places of social belonging. Treating yourself to spa services may be just what you need to decrease the impacts of stress.
In addition, spas are particularly safe. The use of treatment rooms at spas and spa resorts limit your interactions with other patrons. You’ll be alone with an aesthetician, who will be wearing a mask. Gift yourself a few sessions with massage therapists over the coming months. A facial massage coupled with a spa treatment such as a facial or body treatment will certainly help to relax you. Look for a spa that specializes in total wellness and offers signature treatments, as well. You’ll find that these spas are particularly well equipped to help address your chronic stress.
Getting Some Sleep
Getting enough sleep is necessary to reduce stress. Sleep helps to restore your body, improves your concentration, and regulates your mood. Unfortunately, in an unfortunate twist, stress can disrupt your sleep cycle. In order to get enough sleep, even while dealing with stress, you can incorporate some bedtime rituals that will help relax you. Applying essential oil-infused balms, drinking wellness teas, and taking a warm shower before sleep can help. Most importantly, though, you should make sure you have a supportive mattress. When finding a new mattress, search through consumer’s digest and read mattress manufacturers’ reviews. You’ll likely find that Serta products have particularly good reviews. A Serta mattress utilizes innerspring technology to provide maximum support while you sleep. The iComfort, in particular, is an excellent option especially if you want a memory foam mattress that doesn’t cause you to overheat!
2020 has been a challenge for us all. We’ve all been challenged and stressed out like never before. Make sure you’re able to face 2021 refreshed and rested by following these simple suggestions.