One great way to reduce stress is by doing mental-health related exercises. Doing these often, if not daily, can help achieve a stronger sense of the mind and body, and can reduce stress significantly. Here are some recommended, famous exercises that have been proven to help the mind.
ANXIETY COPING STRATEGIES
The following strategies are great for reducing anxiety as well as any stress. Some of these are also great to be done in-the-moment while experiencing a panic attack. It is recommended that before doing these strategies, you would rate your anxiety from 1-10 (1 being very low to 10 being severe). Then, after you do the strategy, rate your anxiety again, and see if it’s reduced. If it has, great! You can use that strategy multiple times anytime. If your anxiety has not reduced, then try doing another method listed below.
4 Corners can be done in any room, any time. It is the perfect technique to help you reduce anxiety. This exercise uses your senses to draw you out of fight/flight and is great for when you’re really stressed, anxious, and/or having an anxiety attack.
First, look at the top left corner of the room. Identify three things you can see. Then, look at the top right corner of the room (moving clockwise) and identify three things you can hear. Continue your turn clockwise to look at the next top corner and find think of three things you can feel. Look at the last corner and find three things you can taste or smell. We’re often less stimulated by taste and smell, so there’s no need to worry if you don’t find three.
This exercise is similar to 4 Corners but is a little simpler and more free-form. Think of a descriptive quality (such as color, shape, a specific material), and find three things that have that quality. Here are some examples you could try:
-Find as many objects that are the color red in the room
-Find as many objects that are wooden in the room
-Find three objects that feel rough in your pencil pouch/desk
Attention Out is a very simple technique that can be done almost anywhere. By focusing on very specific qualities, it can reduce anxiety and can be a great distraction from being nervous. It can be done right before a scary event such as right before giving a presentation in class.
Tapping is a rhythmic exercise targeting the left and right sides of the brain. Cross your arms so your fingers rest on your shoulders. Tap one shoulder, then the other, and repeat, alternating one side to another. You can also tap elsewhere, like your arms or legs. You can also tap the ground with alternating heels. The subtlety of this method makes it great in class and other places when you’d like to be discreet. Doing it at a maximum of 20 taps in one area is recommended.
Crisis Breathing is another great technique to reduce in-the-moment anxiety. To do this, simply plug one nostril and breathe deeply for 10 seconds (if you can, if not just breathe to a lower number), plug other nostril and exhale for the same amount of time. Repeat for a few rounds, then check and see if your anxiety is reduced.
SIPPING ICE WATER
Sip cold water slowly, paying attention to the feeling in your mouth, throat, and as it travels towards your stomach. This activates the part of your brain responsible for the senses and can pull you back into the present. This effectively combats anxiety and anxiety attacks where logic cannot; since the part of your brain that controls the senses (the amygdala) is intact, the frontal lobe (the reason-oriented part of your brain) is shut out and the only way to slip out of fight or flight is to engage the senses.
PUTTING HANDS IN ICE/WARM WATER
By submerging your hands in Ice or Warm water (based on your preference), anxiety and stress can be reduced. Your mind focuses more on the relaxation your hands receive from being put into water. Doing this, even if it is for just 30 seconds to a minute can help reduce anxiety and stress.
Whenever boredom arises or you need activities to keep you distracted, doing any activity or hobby is the perfect way to cope with stress. Here, we have a list of just some of the many activities you could do at home.
Arts and Crafts consist of many different components, such as painting, drawing, sculpting, pen and ink, coloring books, woodwork, and much more. Crafts as well consist of many components, such as origami, knitting, cross-stitch, tie-dye, and more. Arts and Crafts are really great for calming down from a stressful situation or a long day, they are also just super fun to do. You could try any different art/craft medium listed above, or your own. Here are some different things you could draw/paint/color (etc.):
Here are some websites with various crafts you could try at home:
5-minute craft YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC295-Dw_tDNtZXFeAPAW6Aw
Being able to escape into a book is great to distract yourself from anxiety, or any other things going on in your life. Books, like music, are very personal, so you read whatever makes you happy. It could be any genre, any length, anything that makes YOU feel better. However, if you would like some ideas on what to read, here is a link to the “Our recommendations” page to see a list of our very own Cats to Cats Members favorites!
LISTEN TO MUSIC
Music is a wonderful way to take your mind off of what is going on around you. If you are feeling overwhelmed, often music can help to block out that anxiety. Also, YOUR relaxing music doesn’t have to be the relaxing music of someone else, so don’t feel pressured into listening to things that don’t help you just because of what it is called. However, if you would like some ideas on what to listen to, here is a link to the “Our recommendations” page to see a list of our very own Cats to Cats Members favorites!
Cooking or baking is a great way to reduce stress, calm down, and relax. Not only does it help with mental distress, but it can also prepare you for the future and give you more cooking/baking experience. And, most importantly, it can be super fun! If you are a beginner at cooking or baking, it’s recommended to do easy recipes first as well as with an older family member or adult for safety precautions. If you would like some ideas on what to cook/bake, here is a link to the “Our recommendations” page to see a list of our very own Cats to Cats Members favorites!
Hot showers can relax the nerves and even help you sleep well. Cold showers have many benefits like boosting the immune system and increased blood circulation because of the cold water hitting your body. Swimming is touted as the “almost--perfect” exercise for your body because no one body part is taking all of the strain and all of your muscles are being used. It builds endurance and can also be soothing and helps relieve stress because it’s so repetitive.
One simple way to reduce stress is by planting or gardening in your very own home! The planting experience is both fun and dirty, and the end results are definitely worth it. You could plant a variety of different plants, such as your favorite flowers, vegetables, or fruits. Planting flowers can really help make your home look beautiful, and planting vegetables and fruits can save you time and money from buying that produce at the grocery store, especially if you eat that fruit/vegetable often. Keep in mind to be sure to use the correct type of soil and pot size when planting. If you don’t have a backyard or place to plant outside your home, you could try getting an Aerogarden. This is like a smart planting pot that maintains your plant’s growth, lighting, as well as water and nutrient levels, and it doesn’t require too much care. With the Aerogarden, you can plant herbs, flowers, or small vegetables inside your home Here is the link to the Aerogarden site if you are interested: https://www.aerogarden.com/
Sometimes, we are so stressed we just need to unwind and watch our favorite TV shows, movies, or YouTubers. After a long day, or even when it begins, we are so caught up in what's going on with us, we deserve to indulge in the entertainment of other people's lives. Whether they are solving murder-mysteries, running a gaming channel, or falling in love, television allows us to find peace with other characters. It helps distract from any problems in our own lives and sometimes we find connections between ourselves and the characters we watch on the screen. This connection can give us joy and more security when we think about that character, and could even influence our own personality. TV gives us the freedom to watch whatever genre we want based on our preference. If you would like some ideas on what to watch, here is a link to the “Our recommendations” page to see a list of our very own Cats to Cats Members favorites!
Many people find writing and journaling daily to be therapeutic. Something as simple as writing an entry in a journal every day to describe how your day went, or how you’re feeling, can help people relax and track how their days are going. Or perhaps even creative writing, a common hobby that many take up to relax and have fun. The fun thing about writing, in any form, is that you have full control over what you want to express! You can create your own worlds and characters, do whatever you please.
Believe it or not, doing chores is not only productive, but it also has some underlying mental health benefits. It can feel very satisfying to take advantage of what you have control over, especially during a pandemic. Messy areas are seen as “unfinished business” and can add unnecessary stress whether you notice it or not. Clutter and mess can make it hard to focus on just one activity, by decluttering your environment you are effectively increasing your attention span. Studies have shown that doing things like making your bed with clean sheets leads to a better night’s sleep. Finishing chores can give a sense of accomplishment and inclusivity towards your environment.
SLEEPING/TAKE A NAP
Whether or not we go to school online or in person, all of our school-related activities can be pretty draining. Taking a nap in the middle of the day might just be the trick for you, especially if you find yourself going to sleep a little too late. It can be thought of as a little reset button to our brains. Sometimes all we need to make it through the rest of the day is a little nap to restore a bit of our energy.
TAKE A WALK
Taking a walk, even just around the neighborhood, can help improve your mood as well as either relax or boost energy. Especially during quarantine, a period of movement can be a nice contrast between sitting around on the computer all day. Whether it’s around the house or outside, getting up and walking around can be a real mood booster!
CONTACT A FRIEND/RELATIVE
Calling a friend or family member is a very effective way to cope with stress. It only takes a few moments to dial their number and get in contact, but phoning a friend can reduce a tremendous amount of stress that would likely dominate us. Although texting and emailing can be a good distraction from stress, physically talking to a friend and hearing their voice helps ease our minds from stressful situations because we are able to connect and get support from them.
If you are at home and are bored, one of the best things you can do is to do some volunteering. You can do this at any nearby organizations in the Bay Area, such as Sacred Heart, CityTeam, and House of Hope. Not only is volunteering a fun, enjoyable experience, you would also be contributing to helping out the community. Volunteering gives a sense of pleasure and can really relieve stress. Additionally, volunteering can also earn you community service hours, which can be beneficial for college!
CATS TO CATS FAVORITES
The Polar Express - Julie
Mamma Mia - Maya
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again - Maya
The Avengers - Prajeet
Grey’s Anatomy - Julie
Black Mirror - Quinn
Criminal Minds - Maya
Humans - Abby
Once Upon A Time - Prajeet
Glee - Prajeet
The Good Place - Prajeet
The Expanse - Meridian
Ted Lasso - Zoe
Throne of Glass - Zoe
Of Mice and Men - Quinn
East of Eden - Quinn
Cannery Row - Quinn
Six of Crows - Meridian
Taylor Swift - Prajeet
Chritina Perri - Prajeet
Kanye - Maya
Rhianna - Maya
Harry Styles - Julie
Lauren Daigle - Julie
Girl in Red - Abby
Queen - Abby
Some favorites dishes of our Cats to Cats staff