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How do you stop worrying about 2020? It’s been one heck of a year. For many, it’s been one, long downward spiral thanks to a contracted economy, an overburdened medical system, and just a lot of bad news. It’s no surprise that general mental health has suffered as a result, with the mounting stress threatening to push them past the breaking point.
If you feel like this hits close to home, take comfort in the knowledge that you’re not alone. Remember that even in these troubling times, there are still ways to take back control of your life. And a good way to start is with self-care.
Yes, you’ve probably got a lot of important things to do and valid reasons to do them but you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of self-care.
Consider the airline instructions for when the oxygen masks come out: they tell you to make sure your mask is securely fastened before assisting others. If you’re in a position to help others who can’t help themselves, you can do more good for them by preparing yourself for the task. The same logic applies to doctors and nurses, who are prioritized when it comes to getting personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies, because they allow the doctors and nurses to save more lives.
In short, you can’t help others if you can’t help yourself.
So what are some good self-care activities? Let’s take a look!
“You’re telling me that doing more housework will make me less stressed?!”
As hard as it is to believe, doing some home cleaning can do a lot of good for your mental health. Tasks like washing the dishes and vacuuming the house, whether you’re doing it the old-fashioned way or with a dishwasher and robot vacuum cleaner, can be quite therapeutic. This is especially true if you take the time to smell the fresh scent of your dish soap, enjoy the feel of the warm water flowing through your fingers, or appreciate the shine of a surface recently cleansed of dust.
If mindfully focusing on these tasks isn’t your thing though, and you’re so used to doing them that you could do so blindfolded, that could work too! Being able to complete them without thinking allows your mind to wander and play in the world of your imagination, just as it seems to do whenever you take a bath.
One last good thing about cleaning is that although it can be a literal chore, completing this small thing on your mental checklist of a hundred and one things to do can give you a much-needed sense of accomplishment. It may not seem like much but it adds up, and in the fight against stress, every little victory is worth taking where you can get it.
The sister of housecleaning, organizing your home is another simple thing you can do to clear the mental cobwebs. While cleaning is more focused on getting rid of dirt and dust, organizing is more concerned with putting things in their right place. Sometimes, that right place is back on the shelf or in the closet. Other times, it’s in the trash bin.
A big part of organizing is decluttering or discarding what you don’t need or use too often. While popularized in recent years by Marie Kondo’s idea of removing what doesn’t “spark joy” from your home, the concept of clearing your home of the nonessentials as a way to unload your mind isn’t new. Ultimately, what matters is choosing to keep only what adds value to your life, like something with irreplaceable sentimental value or an appliance that makes your life much easier.
Our minds naturally tend towards order, so when we see our surroundings in disarray, we get stressed out as our minds reject the disorderly state of things. When we see junk accumulate, we also see it pile up in our headspace. The opposite is also true: with each unnecessary thing we throw out, that’s one less thing to stress about! Decluttering the home declutters the mind. At a time when everything seems to be falling to pieces, at least in this little corner of the planet, you have control.
Remember that even in these troubling times, there are still ways to take back control of your life. And a good way to start is with self-care.
Ah, cooking. It offers so much in the way of stress relief.
It’s an outlet for creativity. It’s an art. Experimenting is an inherent part of the fun, and adding new ingredients and unusual kitchen appliances to the process makes it all the more exciting. Why else would there be so many variations on the same dish?
It has layers of progression. While you may start out with something as simple as frying an egg, you could easily try making Eggs Benedict or Egg Custard a few days later. And even once you learn a recipe, it may take you much longer to truly master it.
It’s the perfect hobby to lose yourself in. As you get deeper into it, the more you’ll want to learn about it, and that means tumbling down the rabbit hole of endless recipes, cooking shows, and nifty kitchen gadgets.
Mastering cooking is an activity that brings joy not only to you, but others too. After all, food is often made to be shared, and there’s a special joy that comes from watching other people enjoy the food you’ve prepared.
This fulfillment that comes from cooking may be just what you need to forget about what you were stressing over!
And in the unlikely event that it does nothing to relieve your stress, stress eating is much more satisfying with a delicious dish than a lousy one.
Unless you live a house with a sizeable yard or in a province with ample tracts of land, it may be difficult to get a full-sized garden going, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take care of a miniature garden or a house-sized plant.
You can make a basic hydroponics setup from the comfort of your home to grow fresh vegetables to eat, or a series of flowers or decorative plants to brighten up the room. Alternatively, you could get a low-maintenance plant like a succulent or cactus to add a touch of green to your home.
The point of all of this is the joy of cultivating life without any major commitments. Caring for another living creature, even a plant, adds a unique sense of joy even if it comes with a few extra responsibilities. In addition to the natural vibe and air purification a plant provides, gardening gives you an outlet to do things with your hands, which can be a welcome diversion from the increasingly digital life we live in front of our screens.
Gardening is a simple but rewarding hobby that gives you what you put into it. It’s a refreshingly honest change of pace from the sometimes unsatisfying realities of work and the daily complications of modern life.
Now this last one isn’t so much an activity as it is a change of environment, but given just how much the wrong temperature can affect your stress levels, it’s worth checking out too.
Have you ever felt more easily irritated on a painfully hot summer day or maddeningly humid day? Do you remember how uncomfortable you felt? It’s no surprise that indoor air quality plays a big role in determining our mood.
When your indoor temperature is too high, your temper may tend to skyrocket; when it’s too low or if the air is too humid, you may end up feeling more lethargic or lazy. Physical comfort truly is tied to emotional comfort, and having the right indoor room temperature can do a lot of good: whether it’s improving your sleep, boosting your productivity, or keeping your stress levels to a minimum.
Crazy, right? Who’d have thought that just changing the temperature a few degrees could substantially affect your mood? Fortunately, indoor climate control technology makes this a cinch. Having a good smart air conditioner, air cooler, or electric fan do wonders for your indoor air quality and consequently, your mood as well. No longer will you have to adjust to the whims of the weather! (Also read our related article: Portable AC or Air Cooler)
If there were a way to summarize the answer to the eternal question of “How do I stop worrying?”, it would be this:
Keep busy and improve your environment.
Keeping busy allows you to focus on things other than what’s stressing you out. Even if your activity of choice is technically more work, finding ways to inject joy into it can turn a chore into an act of self-therapy.
Improving your environment, whether it’s clearing up your clutter or setting the right temperature, can translate the order of your physical surroundings to your mental space.
After all, when there’s not a lot of time to rest, managing stress is not so much about doing what’s relaxing, but rather making what you do relaxing.
It’s like they say, “An idle mind is the worrywart’s workshop.”
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