No matter how organized you are or how put together your life is, stress (and the things that cause it) still finds a way to creep in. Everybody experiences some level of stress; while this is normal, it's also completely possible for it to get out of hand. Depending on how you grew up or what you have access to, we all deal with it differently.
Given that we're currently in a pandemic, some days might feel harder than most. The usual things that keep you grounded and calm might not be as effective as they usually are. Cosmopolitan Philippines asked asked women from our community, Cosmo Mixers, for how they deal with stress during quarantine.
How To Handle Stress: Cook or make something in the kitchen
Did you know that cooking can actually be a meditative act? In fact, some mental health facilities have started using it as a form of therapy. This is exactly what Nikki does when she gets stressed: "The kitchen is my salvation. Whenever I feel stress or anxiety kicking in, I find myself lured into the kitchen, scrounging for ingredients in the pantry or the fridge and try to whip something up from those finds. Maybe it's to stress eat, but it's most likely to help keep myself busy in a non-stressful environment. My hands like to work often, but instead of typing away on my laptop to finish an article, it's mincing garlic or chopping chocolate (not with the same knife or chopping board, obviously). And right now I have a ton of brownies, cookies, and prepped meals, and I send some of those to loved ones so I won't feel compelled to finish all of it. IDK I think it's my way of feeling/staying connected with people, too."
How To Handle Stress: Meditate
Of course, good ol' fashioned meditation can work wonders for your mental health, too. It's been proven to reduce stress, control anxiety, and enhance self-awareness. Isabella uses a meditation app called Headspace: "I started meditation during ECQ and my general mood is so much better! It's helped me step back from my stressors (vague ECQ policies, WFH issues, relating with my family most notably), even for a couple of minutes a day. I subscribed to Headspace and they have specific packs on managing stress and anxiety, and short exercises for panic attacks, burnout, etc. I use their sleep casts and wind down exercises at night as well, so I'm sleeping so much better, which is another factor for energy and stress management. Cannot recommend this enough!"
How To Handle Stress: Play some games
Gamers, this one's for you. Jewel shares, "I find that violent video games are cathartic. Or fine, any console/PC game that is just super immersive! I used to turn to movies a lot more but found that lately, it's been difficult to focus. With games, I'm holding the controls and literally in control so that keeps me focused! It allows me to forget the real world for a bit, and I think that break is what I really need most days." According to Psychology Today, your brain is on "autopilot" when you're gaming, especially when you're "in the zone." Psychologists call this state "flow," which is the feeling of being completely immersed in a specific activity. Another benefit to playing video games is that it provides immediate gratification-which isn't something most of us have access to right now. You suddenly have goals that are more "attainable" because you're in control.
How To Handle Stress: Talk more
Talking, a form of communication, is so, so therapeutic. It's a way to deal with what you're going through without feeling alone. When you talk to people you trust-it doesn't even have to be a professional-those conversations can provide comfort and clarity. Cindy says, "I learned that opening up about my feels to those close to me really helps a lot. I'm the type to keep my problems to myself, but this pandemic has made things just too much to bear alone. So I've reached out to my people more than usual."
How To Handle Stress: Exercise
One could argue that nothing beats stress quite like exercise. Those endorphins have a way of making you feel euphoric. But even a short (and safe) walk can do wonders for your mental well-being. Before the lockdown, I used half of my lunch hour to walk around my office building. I'm fortunate to still be able to take walks because I live in a condo with a pretty big pool area. So when I anticipate a stressful day ahead, I wake up really early to avoid the morning crowd (people work out around the pool area, too), listen to some music, and walk aimlessly for 30 minutes. When I'm stressed, I notice that I can't complete a task without the next one popping up so I stop and try to start that one. It's chaos. Walking helps clear my head. By the time I'm back at my desk, I'm usually in a better mood and actually able to create a to-do list that makes more sense."
If taking a walk isn't an option for you right now, any type of movement to get you off your butt can help. People usually turn to yoga to relax and get grounded, but there are a lot of other options out there.
Answers have been edited for clarity.