What do you do when stress invades your safe space? Here’s how to deal with stress at home, including methods that you may not have thought of.
- Taking care of kids, paying bills, doing chores, and ruminating about work are all examples of stressful activities that can invade what is supposed to be the safe space: home.
- Stress at home is currently being exacerbated by the coronavirus lockdown, as people lack the option of leaving home and engaging in social activities they once enjoyed.
- It’s beneficial to seek unique stress management techniques, such as mindfulness, reading and art therapy; as opposed to oft recommended methods like stress balls or phoning a friend.
There’s no shortage of tips and tricks for dealing with stress in the workplace, where people expect to experience stress in its most intense form. But stress, along with its ramifications for physical and psychological health, can challenge you anywhere, including at home; the place that’s supposed to be your safe space.
Thinking about work can cause stress, which many people are unable to stop doing, even at home. If you have kids, they’re a reliable cause of stress; and then there’s bills to pay, chores to do; more and more reasons that illustrate the need to learn how to deal with stress at home.
Stress at home has especially become an issue in recent times, mainly because people have been unable to leave it. With the corona pandemic prompting shut downs across the world, people have had to deal with the stress of being shut-in, unable to perform their usual social activities or escape the rest of their family..
Suggestions you may not be aware of for how to deal with stress
Everyone knows the usual suggestions; talk to a friend, squeeze a stress ball, do star jumps, and so on. But here are 8 ways to deal with stress that you may not have thought of, and more importantly, are tailor-made for the home environment.
Mindfulness is the act of paying attention to the present moment, and doing so consistently has been proven to lower stress over time.
Meditation is a key part of mindfulness. It may seem new-age, but recent scientific research into ancient meditation techniques has demonstrated the numerous benefits of mindfulness for body and mind. In particular, mindfulness decreases stress, anxiety, depression, irritability, emotional reactivity, and fatigue.
Many psychologists are incorporating mindfulness into their practice, acknowledging its practical benefits. One of the best things about it is you can do it anywhere, including at home. You just need to be able to set aside 10 to 20 minutes a day to sit quietly and be with your thoughts.
There is a lot of overlap between yoga and mindfulness, but yoga’s emphasis on physical activity along with deep breathing techniques makes it an ideal gateway for those who are not yet ready to practice the art of sitting still.
You’ll already feel a difference after a single yoga session, but long-term, it brings significant health and stress management benefits. Yoga can easily be done from home, you just need some YouTube instructional videos, and space and time set aside for it.
Of course, having an instructor helps, and you can participate in live yoga classes over the video-conferencing software such as Zoom. Simply visit the Zoom website, download the software, create an account, and scroll through available yoga classes to book your place.
Aside from the psychological benefits gained from stimulating your brain, which is shown to help stave off dementia; reading provides a means to block out everything else and fully immerse yourself in an activity.
A 2009 study at the University of Sussex found that reading reduces stress by 68%. It lowers heart rate within about 6 seconds, calms the mind and relaxes the muscles.
Above all else, it provides an escape from the issues that plague you in real-life. Despite being shut in as a result of the corona lockdown, reading provides a means to leave your home and visit other lands and worlds in your imagination.
4. Listening to music
There’ll always be music; the go-to activity for stabilising your mood.
Sitting still and listening to music can take your mind off the stresses of the day, and much like reading, completely immerse you in another world. Music can also cater to a wide variety of activities; so you can have a playlist for when you wake up in the morning, a playlist for when you’re cleaning the house, a playlist for when you’re exercising, and a playlist for when you’re winding down during the evening.
5. Cuddling a pet
The corona shutdown allows for plenty of quality time with your pets, who provide stress relief with a biological basis. Studies show that when dogs and humans interact with each other in a positive way, both are subject to a surge of oxytocin — a hormone linked to positive emotional states.
Humans and dogs share an ancient evolutionary bond, dating back to prehistoric times; and the sense of companionship is strong. Cats may seem a little more aloof, but they also bring comfort through intimate interaction with humans.
That companionship can be a significant boon to people who live alone during the coronavirus lockdown.
6. Art therapy
It’s been used as a complement to mental health treatment, so it can certainly help you deal with stress at home. You don’t even need a canvas and a painting brush, just use a sketchbook and doodle whatever comes to mind.
Painting and drawing creates what psychologists call “flow”, meaning a near meditative state. You’re immersed in what you’re doing and your mind is flowing freely; stress levels are lowered in the process. You don’t have to be particularly talented, you just need to let the mind roam free and express yourself uninhibited.
It’s also a useful way to keep the kids occupied, especially very young kids who generally enjoy expressing themselves through drawing.
7. Progressive muscle relaxation
This can help release some of the tension that builds up in your body during anxious times. It’s a simple process; tense a group of muscles as you breathe in, then slowly relax the muscles as you breathe out. You move through your body systematically repeating this with each group of muscles. It can be especially helpful at nighttime if insomnia is preventing you from getting the sleep you need to deal with stressful times.
8. Clean your room
It may seem banal, but your immediate surroundings are something you can seize control over and impose your will upon, a comfort when you seem to have control over so little else.
Cleaning the room, or the house or flat if you’re willing to expand, gets you immersed in a task that will kill a lot of time, while adding the sense of satisfaction you get from making things neater and more organised. Clearing out clutter becomes analogous to clearing out the clutter in your own mind.
Add to that, it provides an opportunity to get some exercise.
The psychology of stress
If you’re interested in learning more about stress, where it comes from, and how to manage it, then consider studying a psychology or counselling course at SACAP. There are a range of courses on offer, including part-time, full-time as well as distance learning options. For more information, enquire now.