Thursday, 26 March 2020 07:49

Try These Tips to Reduce Your Stress and Boost Your Immune System

From starting an impromptu dance party to scheduling “worry time” into your day, these creative tips will help you regain perspective when anxious thoughts start to take over.


By Marina Khidekel, Head of Content Development at Thrive Global
GStock Studio/ Shutterstock
GStock Studio/ Shutterstock
We’re all doing our best to wash our hands, get adequate sleep, stay hydrated, follow CDC guidelines, and remain healthy, but we often forget that reducing our stress is also vital for our immunity and mental well-being. Science tells us that our stress levels directly correlate to our health — and when we’re constantly on high alert, our immune system can suffer.

We asked our Thrive community to share the small ways they’re reducing stress during these challenging times, when it’s only natural to feel anxious. Which of these will you try?

Try alternate nostril breathing

“I do alternate nostril breathing for one minute. I hold one side of my nose closed, inhale deeply, and exhale on the same side. Then, I do the other side. It centers me and feels like both sides of my brain are getting some attention!”

—Heather Bartos, M.D., founder, Dallas, TX

Listen to a nostalgic song

“To reduce stress, I am letting my mind embrace the simpler, more innocent times of my past by listening to old albums. I am listening to The Beatles’ Rubber Soul album as I write this and I am swaying to the music and smiling as I do.”

—Glenn Paradise, founder and CEO, Dēp Slēpwear, Boston, MA

Reduce blue light before bed

“Focusing on things I can do instead of things that are out of my control is the way I control my stress and anxiety right now — and for me, that starts with prioritizing sleep. Most importantly, I’m minimizing blue light in the evening. It’s so tempting to stay up and watch the news to see coronavirus updates, but I’m choosing to spend that time with my family instead, having a lovely time and centering on gratitude. I’m also using blue light blocking glasses to help.”

—Angela Foster, coach, London, UK

Call someone who makes you happy

“To stay healthy and keep my stress levels down, I make sure to reach out to someone via phone, text, or email, especially someone whom I know will bring me positivity and ease, which is what I need at the moment.”

—Lisa Kohn, author and executive coach, Wayne, PA

Watch a video that inspires wonder

“To regain some perspective, I like to watch the livestream from the webcams onboard the International Space Station. You can see the sunrise and sunset 16 times a day, and it’s humbling to look down on the planet as the ISS flies over us at almost five miles a second.”

—Stuart Fitzwilliam, owner of Cards for Calm, Orange County, CA

Schedule designated “worry time”

“I’m scheduling a time to worry. I only look at news and COVID-19 updates once a day, and I reserve all my energy to worry about it during that time. Carving out that block of time frees up my mind to focus on other things the rest of the day.”

—Alexis Haselberger, coach, San Francisco, CA

Start a family dance party

“I switch on the music and have a spontaneous dance party with my husband and kids. It instantly changes the mood. We all have a moment to focus on joy, silliness, and disconnecting. It brings us together, and is a great way to reduce stress and keep us moving.”

—Isabel Galiano, coach, Singapore

Spend time in nature

“I make sure to get out into nature each day for at least 30 minutes. It is wildflower season in Texas Hill Country and it is so beautiful. I enjoy working in the garden because the smell of the soil is soothing to me.”

—Jim Mikula, hotelier, Fredericksburg, TX

Appreciate the stillness

“Pulling my head up from my computer and looking outside at the quiet beauty is very calming and relaxing. In San Francisco, few — if any — people are out and about, so the city has a pristine, peaceful feel to it. Birds are chirping and the water is still like I’ve never seen. I have been taking some of my calls while standing on my small deck to be in the calming beauty and peacefulness.”

—Jacqueline Hawk, coach, San Francisco, CA

Use social media to laugh

“For my family, finding time for laughter is helping our stress levels so far. We are also using social media in small doses, and only to focus on the good. Seeing people like Jimmy Fallon, Ellen, Amy Cuddy, Pink, Brad Montague, Trevor Noah, Gary Lightbody, and so many others who are helping in different ways online is boosting our well-being. It reminds us that we are all connected, and reminds us that we will get through this.”

—Shea Ki, coach, Ashburn, VA

Carve out time for movement

“I make sure that I start each day with movement for a minimum of 20 minutes, and I take a mandatory movement break at 2:00 pm for an hour. It’s scheduled into my calendar. If you can leave your house, go for a solo walk or run to fill your lungs with fresh air. If you are staying indoors, there are a lot of great online workouts that you can do in your living room.”

—Blair Kaplan Venables, entrepreneur and marketing professional, Pemberton, B.C., Canada

Try a daily meditation

“I am definitely feeling stressed these days, so I have a few go-to steps that I make time for. I meditate every morning for 20 minutes to start my day, and I also do guided meditations from one of my favorite apps during the day. I put my hand on my heart and take a few deep, slow breaths, and tell myself that I’m not alone.”

—Lisa Kohn, author and executive coach, Wayne, PA

Focus on self-care

“As my anxiety mounts, I realize I must try to embrace my thoughts and then place them on a mental shelf while I prioritize self-care, empathy, and acceptance. If I continue to hold the weight of the world in my mind, it will be too much to carry. I remind myself that I can’t control everything, but I can control how I behave, who I help, and the perspective I share with my children.”

—Siobhan Kukolic, author, speaker, and life coach, Toronto, Canada

Stick to your regular routine

“One small way I’m reducing stress during this time is by sticking to my routine. I have a daily routine of exercising, meditating, and listening to something inspiring. This helps me to stay on track, stay upbeat, and feel in control of my thoughts.”

—Jill Sylvester, licensed mental health counselor and author, Boston, MA

Do 15 minutes of writing

“I woke up today feeling anxious and overwhelmed, so I did 15 minutes of freewriting to get my fears out of my head and onto paper. The exercise helps me organize my thoughts and process my anxieties. After I was finished writing, I tore the paper into tiny scraps and got to work. It was a cathartic experience and a good way to start another day of social distancing. I know my fears are not going to go away. But they seem more manageable, at least for today.”

—Michelle Jolene, coach, Miami, FL

Go for a walk

“With current shelter-in-place mandates, I have been finding it more necessary than ever to get outside daily, whether it’s going for a walk or run, reading for a few minutes out in the sunshine, or eating lunch or dinner on the patio. Nature is our greatest healer and it’s so essential to incorporate it into our daily lives during stressful times like these.”

—Brynne Terry, occupational therapist, San Francisco, CA

Practice yoga outside

“Our new normal has added more stress to our lives, but it has also slowed us down in many ways since we are limited in our activities. Instead of exercising indoors, I spread the yoga mat out in the fresh air and bathe in nature while stretching. Meditating in nature is like building a natural surround sound with a symphony of birds.”

—Jackie Abramian, PR and social media executive, Kittery, ME

Tend to all of your “rooms”

“There’s an ancient Indian saying that each one of us is like a house with four rooms: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room at a time, but unless we go into every room every day, we are not complete. To stay healthy and reduce stress, I carve out a few minutes each day to tend to all four rooms. I do this through daily yoga stretches, making a gratitude list, reading, creating a schedule, and meditating. During this time of uncertainty and change, this routine is helping me stay focused on what matters and stay healthy.”

—Puja Madan, founder of The Mindfulness Map, Orlando, FL

(Thrive Global)

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