3 simple hacks to reduce stress during COVID
“One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from a horse master. He told me to go slow to go fast. I think that applies to everything in life. We live as though there aren't enough hours in the day but if we do each thing calmly and carefully, we will get it done quicker and with much less stress.”
- Viggo Mortensen
How do you keep your sanity in check during COVID?
We’ve all been seeing article headlines like this lately. But no one seems to offer short, practical advice that doesn't involve working out 2 hours a day or becoming a monk. Well, as a member of the fast-paced and stress-inducing start-up world, I'm sharing real hacks to save your time and effort, and to reduce stress.
Let’s dive in. 🌊
1. 5-minute exercise
“To enjoy the glow of good health, you must exercise.”
Did you know that working out for just 5 minutes can greatly reduce anxiety and stress?
According to a 2016 research, “1-minute bursts of intense exercise within a 10-minute routine, could improve insulin sensitivity (lowering your blood sugar) and cardiometabolic health as well as a 50-minute workout.”
And what do you know, the benefits proved similar.
This isn’t a surprise.
Exercise, physical activities in general, produce endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers—and improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.
It’s all about pumping that blood and allocating them throughout the body. No need to hit the gym and spend 2 hours on that treadmill. Unless, you desperately want a six-pack and those vein-pumping forearms.
But don’t know where to start? Start with something like this.
Once you get accustomed to 5 minutes, push it to 10 minutes and more. Oh, you don’t have 5 minutes or a yoga mat? You live in a small New York apartment with neighbors that can hear every step you take?
Focus on bodyweight exercises like push-ups and leg raises. But seriously, no excuses here for most people.
You can start celebrating small wins with others at “briantingle”. Find like-minded people that’ll support you and hold you accountable.
2. Reading and Learning
“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”
-Harry S Truman
Yale says that reading can add at least +2 to your life expectancy.
According to their research, they looked at “3,635 people aged 50 and older and found said that reading a book for 30 minutes a day added two years to one’s life span.” Unfortunately, this was true only for the “book readers,” not magazine or newspaper readers. Book readers had a “20-percent lower chance of dying during a 12-year period”.
Another study from the University of Sussex in Great Britain “showed that reading even six minutes a day reduces stress by 68 percent,” equivalent to listening to soothing music.
While reading, your mind wanders into the author’s worldview, taking a deep dive into different perspectives and underlying messages that manifested as stress in your daily life. Your stress is reduced as you figure out answers and get closure.
So, what are you doing tonight?
I know I’ll be reading AND listening to music, gaining +4 years in life expectancy. It’s almost a video game.
3. Breathing & Meditation
Don’t worry, you don’t need to mediate or enter nirvana for 2 hours a day. That’s not the point of this article.
Before you start the day, or when you feel stressed out, follow this proven deep breathing technique that anyone can do.
Lie down or sit comfortably
Place hand on the belly
Deeply inhale through nose
Slowly exhale through mouth
Feel the belly go up and down
Repeat for a few minutes
Technically, this is another form of meditation. And we all know what benefits meditation provides. Just by taking deep breaths throughout the day, you’ll be able to manage stress and anxiety with greater control.
You could also combine it with exercise and reading to maximize the effect.
Exercise – Read – Breathe
“Within you, there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.”
Here’s the recap
Do a quick 5-minute exercise
Read an enjoyable book (or learn something new)
Breathe deeply with your belly
Start with the above list to reduce stress during these tough times. They are quick, easy, and don’t cost a dime. Now go create healthy habits with braintingle