Here’s a phrase that I have developed a tricky relationship with in quarantine: stress management. Just check out the increasing number of self-help articles on organizing our understandably scrambled-up lives. Dealing with stress can be empowering but demanding. Is it possible to turn around our bad days without it feeling like extra work?
According to the 2020 Deloitte Global Millennial Study, the stress levels of Filipino millennials and Gen Z were higher than the global average even before the pandemic. If you’ve been telling yourself that you’re in serious need of a chill pill, it’s best to heed your own advice before burnout eats up the last of your energy reserve. Since our fave band-aid solution (a vacay far, far away!) isn’t an option for a lot of us right now, it’s time to find other accessible remedies for that instant mood boost. Here’s a list to start with:
Treat your pet right
Giving your pets a pat on the head and belly rubs for a few minutes isn’t considered spending time with them. An hour or two of playing with them is something you both deserve. I haven’t been able to walk my dog Cassie on workdays and every time I open my laptop, she gives me this heartbreaking look. I don’t want to be a bad pet parent so I made a promise to do better. I’ve started doing indoor activities that Cassie can do inside while I work, like setting up an obstacle course, playing hide-and-seek and teaching them to help you with your chores.
Watching your pet enjoy a new toy can be as invigorating for you. Try buying a food-dispensing toy or a snuffle matt online through Shopee or Lazada. Remember, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
Be the funny woman
Remember when we used to joke about the live, laugh, love motto? Now, we unironically send variations of it on business emails and to our barkada group chats. In times when it’s hard to find something to laugh about, that’s when we need a giggle the most.
Humor activates retention and builds good rapport. It’s a win-win situation when you laugh with the people you work with. Do you have funny 2020 anecdotes you can look back to next year? You can try to recall them and send them to friends. Or try seeing the funny side to experiences you’ve had.
Several times in the day, I have to remind myself to unclench my jaw and do a little stretch. If you feel too spent for a full workout, stretching alone can release endorphins. Studies have also shown that keeping an upright posture leads to “reduced fatigue, increased positive feelings and greater persistence in dealing with difficult tasks.”
Hit two birds with one stone by doing laughter yoga. It’s an exercise that combines voluntary laughter with yoga breathing techniques. Usually done in groups, you make eye contact with others and this often leads to real laughter.
The stretches are simple and while they improve posture, you can get the added benefits of laughing such as an increase in blood flow and lower levels of stress hormones.
Make your own “The Baby-Sitters Club” kid kit
In the “The Baby-Sitters Club,” the baby-sitters would make “kid kits” for the kid clients they were sitting. These kits contained interesting toys, books and other things that could distract a child from being bored or throwing a tantrum. You could make your own grown-up version of a kid kit, too. I have one—instead of stopping me from acting out, mine helps me deal with panic attacks and ward off bad vibes and unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Gather things that help you relax and put them in a box or a small bag you can bring with you anywhere. My kit, for example, contains rose oil, a journal that I could write or doodle on, a meditation bell, aroma beads (which kids used to call “kisses”) that I could crush in my hands, photos with and letters from friends, a yo-yo and some sweets. Banana Tree Log, who shares tips on how to identify what you’ll need in a stress-relief kit, suggests adding a clickable pen and chewing gum. Taking notes from “The Baby-Sitters Club,” you can add blowing bubbles and puzzles if you’re a kid at heart.
Enjoy fun mindfulness
Meditation and mindfulness used to intimidate me, until a friend taught me that mindfulness is actually about letting your mind wander. There are several meditation exercises that you can try and not all of them require you to repeat “om” like what’s often shown on TV.
Two of my favorites guided meditations are the train journey and the power animal. For the train journey, you get to imagine a train in detail and the scenery outside your window, as well as ponder over where it will take you.
While the Headspace app is great for beginners since it incorporates external sounds in its meditation exercises, there are funny alternatives that you might want to check out like Grow With Supreet’s body scan guided meditation and Hanna Dickinson’s “Your Brutally Honest Bridesmaid” meditation. There are also guided meditations that take you to specific places such as Hogwarts.
There’s no other way around it. If you have too much on your plate, you have to learn to say no. It’s okay for you to skip some of the online events and hangouts your friends invite you to. It’s OK not to go above and beyond expectations to make everyone else happy.
You are the only person who knows your own limits and you must respect them. Just make sure that your “No’s” aren’t something that you end up regretting. You can prioritize your happiness which can mean anything from online concerts from your favorite artists, to something simpler like ordering takeout for yourself while binge-watching.
If you need a little push and assistance in owning your good days, Globe launched Globe Self Space as part of its #Recreate. Better Days campaign, to be with you in your self-care journey. It has an Instagram page filled with mental health tips and encouraging posts, plus a podcast with our fave vlogger Janina Vela called “Real Talk.”