Many people are working from home due to COVID-19, and the stress that comes from work changes can have negative impacts on life and mental health, but there are several ways to combat the bad changes with good ones. Just as physical exercise habits need to evolve in the times of quarantine, mental health exercises can pay dividends for focus, attention span, and most importantly, stress relief.
Here are a few at-home exercises to help increase mental health.
Stress Relief Exercises
With change comes anxiety, and though both men and women are more susceptible to stress during change, recent mental health statistics show that women are twice as likely to be impacted by Generalized Anxiety Disorder, so if you’re a man, be sure to share these exercises with the women in your life.
- Make your home office day resemble your regular office day – wear the same clothes, talk to your coworkers via Zoom over lunch, make lunch before the day starts, etc.
- Listen to relaxing music – ambient, instrumental music helps soothe the mind both during, and after stressful situations.
- Detach and meditate – turning off email and your phone for an hour or two after work allow the brain to reset and can drastically reduce stress. Listening to a guided meditation will also help refocus the brain.
- Watch a funny show – laughter is the best healer when it comes to a lot of things, and work stress is no exception.
Attention Span Exercises
Stress can also cause lapses in attention span, especially regarding your daily activities that aren’t the causes of stress. Practicing some or all of these exercise will help increase your attention span and that will ultimately play a role in decreasing your stress, as well.
- Attentive listening – this practice involves improving your mind’s ability to absorb what another person is saying. You can do it with roommates or spouses or children simply by striking a conversation and challenging yourself to not interrupt and focus on every word that’s being said. As a test run, listening to a podcast as if the person were in the room is a good way to practice.
- Reading – reading checks a lot of mental health boxes, but one of the less-obvious ones is increasing your attention span. If you’ve fallen into reading habits that are short and sweet, pick up a classic book and give yourself some reading comprehension tests throughout the process.
- Reduce distractions – focusing on single tasks and maintaining a planner similar to the one you may have had at an office are both ways to make a workload seem smaller and thus, easier to focus on
The process of cooking is, in and of itself, a great way to destress, and also serves as a nice short-term project to help with attention span. Making your favorite meal accentuates both of these benefits of cooking. If your favorite meal happens to be one of the brain foods, then you’ve really hit the mental health lottery. Even if eating these foods would be a new habit, they will all help with mental well-being and reduce chances becoming overweight or obese.
- Tea and coffee – these two are not only successful in helping the brain wake up on a given morning, but they also have long-term affects of better cognitive function.
- Berries – a delicious substitute for a bag of chips or other midday fat, berries of all sorts have been proven to delay memory decline when eaten on a regular basis.
- Fatty fish – for the full meals, fatty fish sits atop the brain food pyramid due to its abundance of omega-3 fatty acids that are the “good fats” that lower blood pressure and help blood flow in the brain.
Keep at It
Adding new parts to your daily routine may seem counterintuitive when trying to reduce stress, but all of these exercises take minimal amounts of mental effort, and they can all be done in the same amount of time that most people spend in traffic each day. Better physical health leads to better mental health, and vice versa, so be sure to exercise all parts of your body on a regular basis.