2020 hasn’t been easy for most, but let’s look at it from a different point of view. Imagine life before this pandemic hit in 2019-2020. You still went through some tough times, you still felt stress, anxiety, sadness, or anger from time to time. Perhaps you knew how to deal with it at the time. Maybe you were just as lost as you are right now. Regardless of how you dealt with it, you knew you could get through. That’s why you’re still here today! I know I’ve struggled to get through slumps or through moments of intense sadness or stress in the past. The world has slowed down this year. I believe that is what really pushed me to dig deeper to find solutions to get myself out of a slump faster and more efficiently. Here are some great tips I picked up along the way.
Tip the temperature
Paired Muscle Relaxation
These TIPP skills are not my own. In fact, they come from Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), a style of therapy that teaches people strategies to help them live their most productive life. I know, this is kind of deep. Why am I bringing this up on a health and wellness blog? DBT has helped many people suffering from anxiety, depression, addictions, and even PTSD. If you just came here for the supplements, you may want to skip this one. But if you want to learn more about how to take back your life after all that 2020 had to offer, keep on reading.
What is the Goal of Distress Tolerance in times like these?
The goal is to feel better using your own skills! Whether you have had a rough couple of years or have been specifically experiencing moments of distress, stress, and anxiety in 2020, this skill can help you pull through to a brighter tomorrow. With enough practice, DBT allows you to accept reality as it is.
The intensity we feel when we are stressed, angry, or sad is hard to explain but you know when you are going through it. You start to feel hot, your face may turn red and warm-up, your heart starts to race, maybe your shoulders raise a bit. You’re on high alert. One great way to calm these emotions is to change your body temperature from hot to cold. The easiest way is to fill a large bowl with cold water and try to hold your face in the water for 30 to 60 seconds. Make sure the water is not less than 50 degrees. You don’t want to freeze your face off, you simply want it cold enough to alter your body’s temperature.
Alternately, an ice pack on your face around your cheeks and eyes can help as well, just make sure to move it around so it doesn’t stick to your face. Some other options would be to run outside if it’s cold out or take a cold shower. Although cold showers are super shocking to the body and can feel pretty awful, there is lots of research backing cold showers and plunges, as I’ve personally tested and documented in this article. However, if being cold is going to make you feel more anxious or stressed, consider taking a warm bubble bath instead.
Contraindications: if you have cardiac/heart problems, do not try this one!
The first time I experienced this was unintentional. I didn’t even realize it worked the first time because I wasn’t exercising to get over any intense emotions. What I felt after was euphoric! It was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I felt like I had all the energy in the world, but was also extremely calm. I basically felt like I had complete control over how I felt, no matter what came my way. So what did I do to achieve that?! I went to the batting cages with my brother.
Sure, maybe going with my brother gave me a sense of bonding, but the intense exercise is what pumped me up for the rest of the day! We only went for about 20-40 minutes, which is the goal here. You also want your heart rate at 70% of its capacity. That is usually when your body starts to burn fat! I personally love the batting cages because I used to play competitive Softball, but if you can’t get to the cages, or don’t find that fun, try something else. Some other great ideas are: Crossfit WODS, skipping rope, sprints, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts.
Imagine you’re arguing with your partner or you’re a teenager again rebelling against your parents. Think about what’s happening in your body: Your heart races, your breathing speeds up and becomes shallow to the point where you can’t even feel yourself doing it, and you are already thinking about what you‘re going to say before they finish their sentence. You want to win that argument. I get it! I challenge you to try something different next time.
Try to slow your breathing down to 6 breaths per minute. Your inhale and exhale should take about 10 to 12 seconds in total! That’s pretty tough if you’re used to breathing into your chest. Test it out right now. Place your hands on your stomach and breath deeply, trying to inflate your belly with air. Try to keep the exhale equal to the inhale, or for an added challenge, make the exhales longer! There are apps for this, but you really only need a few minutes of this to feel the relaxing effects of your own breath and for your stress to start to fade away. Free of charge.
I find this one to be very helpful when I have thoughts and worries keeping me up at night. Lying in bed, I will tense my muscles as inhale for 6 seconds. I notice what my body is feeling before I exhale and relax the muscles. The great thing about this is you can tense your entire body at the same time, or you can go muscle by muscle. This works to relax your body and mind because it makes it difficult to think about anything else while you focus on lengthening your breath and tensing specific parts of your body.
Paired Muscle Relaxation (PMR) helps strengthen your corpus callosum, which connects the left side of the brain to the right side. The connection allows information to pass between the two halves. I’m not saying PMR will make you smarter, although that would be cool. I am, however, saying that whether in bed or in an argument or a regular conversation, you can tense or squeeze muscles to help you think more rationally and lower your stress levels. I find that pretty damn cool!
I’ve tried all of these in the past year and have felt a huge difference in my mood immediately after! I know it sounds too good to be true, but try it yourself. When you feel intense feelings of stress or any kind, notice how that feels in your body and your mind, then try one of these TIPPs . Notice how long it took to get yourself back to homeostasis. Maybe it didn’t work the first or second time, but on your third try, your body started picking up on the new motorneurons you were firing. It’s crazy how the brain and body are connected. Give it a go and let us know!
Chelsea has been active most of her life, which led her to become a Personal Trainer and Yoga Instructor for the past 7 years. Health and Fitness are not solely dependent on movement, though, and with that understanding, she addresses her client’s other needs, such as diet, mindfulness, and stress management.
When she is not training clients or teaching Yoga, she is finding new activities that keep her mind and body active, such as rock climbing, hiking, listening to podcasts, or playing Board Games with friends. She is constantly working towards: Finding natural solutions to live as long as possible, creating inclusive Yoga for all body types, and aiming to find mindfulness is everything she does.