Stress reductionTo say this a stressful time is an understatement. The pandemic rages on, protests over systemic racial injustice continue, and a deeply divided electorate is preparing for Nov. 3. Looking ahead can be anxiety provoking. A recent publication by the Pew Research Center found that about half of US adults (including college-aged young adults) think their lives will remain changed in major ways once the pandemic is over. 

Fortunately, there are many resources, ranging from free apps, streaming movies to electronic library books that can help take your mind of the news of the day, find some relaxation and maybe even some tips for easing any anxiety as it arises.

We have scoured sites for suggestions and particularly like this list of suggestions from the Medical University of South Carolina. Below, we have condensed their 12 tips to relieve stress and offered some suggested resources to help you implement those suggestions into your own daily lives.

Realize you are not alone

Stonehill office of Health and Wellness page of Student Support During the Covid-19 Pandemic. Intercultural Affairs offers a wide variety of programming and affinity groups offering opportunities for connection around shared concerns, check out their weekly emails or their website for more information.

Set aside time to breathe

A recent publication from Harvard Medical school explained the benefits of deep breathing for helping alleviate a stress response. It described how deep abdominal breathing encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. Such breathing can slow the heartbeat and lower or stabilize blood pressure. Not sure where to begin with deep breathing exercises. Check out this this list of free apps from Mindful magazine.

Know it is okay to ask for help

….and that the staff at Stonehill’s Counseling Services is available to you. Visit their website to learn about scheduling an appointment, group sessions, how to get help in case of an emergency and how to access a 24/7 counseling support crisis line.

Focus on the good and provide acts of kindness

The pandemic makes it difficult to do in-person volunteering, but you still have the chance to brighten someone’s day. Bring your roommate a latte from Ace’s, write a letter to a relative, or reconnect with an old friend on social media and follow up with a virtual get together. Need more ideas? Check out this article on random acts of kindness from Bustle.

Find a mantra

Using a mantra to relieve stress doesn’t require a committed meditation practice or a knowledge of Buddhism. Mantra’s can be simple phrases you repeat to yourself to clear your mind of intrusive thoughts. For example, while running or walking, you might use the mantra “I am becoming calm”. One Penn State student described how using the simple mantra “I trust” helped change her perspective.

Know Timing is Everything

Try to avoid using your phone to check the news and social media immediately after waking and before going to bed. Also, try to schedule regular times to check in during the day, rather than getting into the habit of constant scrolling. The University of Colorado Boulder issued some practical tips for phone use, including shutting off notification, scheduling phone “time off,” and bookmarking positive news sites.

Stay informed using reliable sources

The news is scary enough without filling our heads with internet conspiracy theories and social media rumors. For accurate, reliable information, especially about matters related to the pandemic, trust sources like The Mayo Clinic, The Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization.

Focus on what you can do an accept the things you can’t control

Sometimes easier said than done, but try.

Find ways to stay socially connected and engaged

Virtual board game nights with friends? Virtually watching your favorite shows together? Be imaginative and find ways to connect with family and friends. Remember, as members of the Stonehill Community, you have Zoom accounts. While these are essential for your classwork, they’re also a great tool for staying in touch.

Set daily routines that include being creative

The staff at the Medical University of South Carolina note: “It’s important to try to create and maintain a daily routine regardless of the disruption of unfamiliarity and isolation. This helps us to maintain a sense of order and purpose in our lives. If you can exercise—do it. If it is OK to walk outside—do that. Try to get fresh air, even if its standing in your driveway for five minutes each day. Read new books. Watch uplifting and humorous television shows. Pull out those puzzles you’ve been saving for a rainy day. Color! If you can garden—do it! Learn and practice meditation. This will help both your mental and physical state. Try new recipes and share old ones with friends. Start a journal.”

Write it out 

Speaking of journals, research has shown that, while not for everyone, writing about emotions can help ease stress and trauma for some.

Explore apps that benefit mental health

Not sure where to start? Check out these recommendations from Oprah Magazine, CNET, Inc. Magazine, and Healthline.