"If you give me three minutes, it will work as long as you move your body in a way that feels good to you," said Dr. McGonigal who suggests choosing an inspirational song to get you moving. "Every time you move your muscles and increase your heart rate, you get a surge in dopamine and feel alive and engaged. Exercise for me is a way that I feel my own strength and feel connected to hope and joy . "
Take on a home project
Clean up clutter, scrapbooking, get a new duvet, hang artwork.
"It's not frivolous to do something like clearing, organizing, or looking around your space and thinking about how to make it a supportive place for you or anyone else you live with. This is one of the ways we can imagine a bright future for us, "said Dr. McGonigal, whose TedTalk on Stress has been viewed nearly 24 million times." Anything you do where you take an action that enables you to become consciously or unconsciously with that idea connecting that there is a future that you are moving into is like an intervention of hope. It is something you do now to take care of your future self. "
Try five fingers
This simple exercise is easy to remember and is often taught to children to help calm themselves during times of high stress. (I tried the dentist's chair the other day and it helped a lot!) Dr. Brewer made a video explaining the technique of engaging multiple senses at the same time and repressing those worrying thoughts.
Step 1. Hold your hand in front of you with your fingers spread apart.
Step 2. Using your index finger on the opposite hand, draw the outline of your extended hand, starting at the wrist, and moving your little finger up.
Step 3. Inhale as you track your pinky finger. Exhale as you locate your pinky finger. Track your ring finger and inhale. Track your ring finger and exhale.
Step 4. Continue finger by finger until you've traced your entire hand. Now reverse the process and trace from your thumb back to your little finger. Be sure to breathe in as you track and breathe out when you track.
Connect with nature
Spend time outside. Watching birds. Wander among the trees. Take a fresh look at the views and objects around you during an “Awe Walk”. Recent research shows that consciously absorbing the wonders of nature enhances the psychological benefits of walking.
Numerous studies support the belief that being in nature and walking on quiet, tree-lined paths can lead to significant improvements in mental health and even physical changes in the brain. Nature hikers have a “calmer” brain: scans show less blood flow to the part of the brain associated with rumination. Some research shows that even looking at pictures of nature can improve your mood. Our brains seem to prefer green spaces. A small study found that athletes exposed to the color green were able to exercise more easily and were in a better mood than athletes exposed to gray or red.
Nov. 2, 2020, 11:31 am ET
Rediscover your diaphragm
Many of us are vertical breathing devices: when we breathe, our shoulders rise and fall and we don't interfere with our diaphragm. To better relax, learn to take a horizontal breather. Inhale and push your stomach out, which means you are using your diaphragm. Exhale and your center relaxes.
For a deep (and somewhat complicated) dive into abdominal breathing, grab a tape measure and do this Breathing IQ self-exam by Belisa Vranich, a clinical psychologist and author of Breathing for Warriors.
"When you breathe with your shoulders, you use auxiliary muscles and you have a higher heart rate, higher blood pressure and higher cortisol," said Dr. Vranich. "If you breathe your diaphragm, you are rather calmer."