How to Reduce Stress, by Coach Chris
The year 2020 has been an absolute insane ride, especially if you’re here in the Minneapolis/St.Paul area. It’s felt like a seemingly relentless torrent of negativity, disasters, frustration, and isolation for a lot of people. We’ve been glued to our phones and computers more than ever, to stay up to date with the latest happenings and stay connected to friends.
Chances are, you’ve been spending A LOT of time in “fight or flight” mode the past 3 months. When we’re in this state of high alert and readiness, we often feel heightened anxiety and emotion. We have difficulty focusing, and trouble sleeping. It’s overwhelming. You can’t stop thinking about things out of your control, dreading the future or what might happen next. This isn’t a mental state anyone can tolerate for long. The “fight or flight” part of your brain — the amygdala — has been working overdrive lately.
It’s time to spend some time resting this part of our brain. We need a break from “fight or flight.” Here’s a couple practical tips to help make this transition possible, a little at a time.
- Set some designated “No screen” time during the day, for at least an hour at a time. We need to turn off the constant input. Social media is an absolute energy vampire, that we simultaneously can’t get enough of but also wish we didn’t use at all. Turning off your phone or screen lets you focus 100% on the task at hand. Stop looking down, and start looking forward again. Be present in the moment!
- Get out in nature. Spending time in nature, like on a hiking trail, the woods, a lake, or even just your garden — has been proven to lower stress! Being in nature reduces blood pressure, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. Our bodies do not function well under the constant influx of stress hormones. Go outside for half an hour. No phone. You’ll feel better. Make this a new ritual every few days, or at least once a week.
- Get some exercise. Specifically, some lower intensity exercise like walking, biking, swimming, jogging, or rowing. This type of exercise helps you clear your head. Don’t set any specific goals or paces for yourself — just move. Give your brain a chance to release something other than stress hormones for a hot second and you’ll feel amazing!
Self-care is critical right now. Some of you are taking on incredibly complex and daunting tasks in the social justice world right now. Take time for yourself to relieve stress and stay centered, so you can put your best foot forward in whatever endeavors you’re tackling. Remember: you’ can’t pour from an empty cup.