With July 31st bringing to an end the COVID-19 assistance from the CARES act, 21-30 million people (depending on which report you read) are having probably one of the most stressful weeks of their lives, present company included. With case numbers rising and prompting closures and strict mandates, the already limited opportunities are becoming even more competitive with such an astronomical amount of people fighting over the same jobs. My personal job history of 3+ years of management, 3 years of sales, 17 years in the workforce with no lapse in employment and a bachelor’s degree has resulted in over 200 job applications submitted and 1 whole interview. To say that my frustration, stress and grief over this situation is at an all-time high is an understatement.
With that being said, I am doing my best to keep a positive attitude and have faith in myself and the universe that something good is going to happen. A negative outlook and victim attitude is going to get me nowhere, so I’ve decided to do the best I can each day and then let it go. Which means I deserve a little bit of relaxation amongst all the chaos. While my knee-jerk reaction is to zone out with my phone and a glass of wine on the couch, this isn’t true mental relief. Most of the time staring into the abyss of Instagram does nothing but cause more mental clutter, and Lord knows right now, 1 glass of wine could easily turn into a bottle and make me super unproductive the next day. So I’ve been brainstorming some better ways to unwind that will benefit me a little more than turning my brain into mush.
One thing I don’t do near enough of is take a hot bath. For some reason it always seems like such an arduous task, but every time I force myself to fill up the tub and soak I instantly wonder why I put it off. I need to schedule this at least 2 times a week. No matter the size of your bathtub, there is something to be said for shutting the door, cranking up the water temperature to near boiling, turning on some relaxing music, lighting a scented candle and closing your eyes. It’s a great time to get away from responsibilities and just have some alone time with your thoughts, if you can lock out the dogs/kids/spouses etc. There are also the added physical benefits for achy joints and muscles and simply putting your body into a state of relaxation for a good night’s sleep.
Another technique for release I need to really focus on is physical activity. Now more than ever, getting my heart pumping for even just 30 minutes is critical. For one, when stressed, the body releases tons of cortisol which can make you retain fat which will put added strain on your heart and arteries. Also, in a time when so many people are getting sick, the best defense is to have a healthy body and immune system that can fight off yucky germs. Being able to take all the internal anxieties and expel them through sweat and movement is also a way to make them tangible and bid them good riddance. And furthermore, having a wide open schedule gives me absolutely no excuse. Whether it’s a hike, a bike ride, a group fitness class or a long stroll around the neighborhood with the pooch, physical activity is definitely essential for releasing tensions.
Something I really want to get back into is reading. Growing up as an only child, my absolute favorite thing to do was read. I constantly had a book in tow, even falling asleep every night in my glasses with a book flopped open on my pillow. I love the smell of the pages and find libraries to be one of the most relaxing places on earth. Now that everything has gone digital, I rarely find myself with an actual novel in my hands, letting my imagination paint my own illustrations of the writer’s ideas. My brain is becoming far too comfortable absorbing information in 140 characters or less for my liking. I would like to find something to really dive into and dedicate some time each day to that old passion.
Finally, my all-time favorite hobby and method of relaxation has to be cooking. It’s very easy when you’re single to rely on going out to eat or ordering takeout. For the last year or so, the only cooking I’ve done has been the same old boring meal prep when I’m trying to watch my weight. But hardly anything brings me the same amount of joy as being creative in the kitchen. From the methodical chopping and prepping of ingredients, to the intoxicating smells and flavors combining and filling the kitchen, it is truly the thing that makes me feel like a house is a home. I’m hoping at least 3 nights a week I can prioritize this time for myself and create some new favorite dishes to add to my rotation.
I hope you all can employ some of these tactics in your own life if you’re also experiencing a stressful time. Remember the old adage that you can’t help someone else if you don’t help yourself first. Right now we’ve all got to do what we can to stay sane and make sure our health, both mental and physical, is the top priority. See you all in August!