The COVID-19 pandemic is stressful, causing fear and anxiety that can be physically and emotionally overwhelming.  But there are methods for coping.

Knowing that everyone responds differently to stressful situations, here are a dozen different suggestions to reduce worry, tension, and anxiety while we wait out the COVID crisis.

Read a book.  Books take us into our imaginations, allowing for the ultimate distraction. The act of reading also relaxes your body, lowers your heart rate, and eases the tension in your muscles. 

Puzzles exercise both sides of your brain, evaporating stress and replacing it with tranquility. We especially like the calming puzzles from Lemonade Pursuits that partner with female artists around the world to create uniquely artful and peaceful tableaus.

In much the same way as puzzles do, coloring allows you to focus on a single task that can put your mind into a meditation-like state.

Speaking of meditation, a number of apps are available to help focus your attention and eliminate the scramble of thoughts crowding your mind.  Popular ones include Headspace, Calm, and Aura.  

Stretching allows the blood that has been restricted due to stress to flow more freely.  Stretching also stimulates receptors in the nervous system that decrease the production of stress hormones and isolates the muscles that store the tension.

A hobby from times past, modeling is seeing a comeback.  Whether it’s crafting model airplanes, cars, or making dollhouses, the act of working with your hands to create a product in detail can be remarkably soothing.

Cooking is not only a useful skill, but a great therapy.  It reduces negative thinking and builds confidence, encouraging creativity and activating the senses in the best way.  Have a cookbook at home you’ve been wanting to crack open or a website tempting you to new tastes?  Now’s the perfect time. 

Getting in touch with nature and being in the sunlight are instant mood lifters.  This is what makes gardening such a great tool to relieve stress that can be done at any age.   

Many shelters are waiving adoption fees to relieve facilities and provide animals with foster (if not forever) homes during the health crisis.  Cuddling an animal stimulates the release of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which help relieve depression. Pets are proven to create a calming effect, and loving on them helps you focus on the present moment.

You may think it would be harder to workout with the gyms and fitness studios closed, but apps and online fitness have stepped up to fill the void.  Everything from Beachbody to Barry’s is currently offering free online classes.  Take advantage, because working up a sweat reduces the body’s levels of adrenaline and cortisol, instead stimulating the production of endorphins. 

Give journaling a go. Detailed writing about thoughts and feelings may clear them from your mind, or at least help you prioritize your fears, better understand your stresses, and problem solve more efficiently. 

Make music.  From playing an instrument to singing, every aspect of making music releases stored muscle tension and decreases cortisol levels.  It’s a bonus that this activity can be done alone or with others!