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  • Writer's pictureMarissa Aiuto

10 Ways I'm Keeping Calm & Carrying On (During a Pandemic)

Updated: Jul 6, 2020

I know a lot of us are dealing with a lot of stress and anxiety right now. I am naturally a very anxious person. These uncertain times have only made my anxiety worse. We all have different ways of dealing with these emotions but this is how I'm managing my own stress through this pandemic, and I hope there's something here that can help you, too!

1. Break a Sweat: Movement - I typically try to do some sort of movement or exercise every day. Since we can't go outside very much right now, it's more important than EVER to move. Movement helps release cortisol (aka the body's stress hormone) from the body - so exercise SCIENTIFICALLY can help you de-stress! You don't need to do high intensity workouts, or really anything you're uncomfortable with. There are so many free options right now, too!

My current workout faves:

- Strength 4 days/week: LIIFT 4 on Beachbody on Demand - Peter and I do this together on weekday mornings using weights we have at home. We use Power Block Adjustable Weights because they don't take up a lot of space, and you can adjust them from 5lbs to 50lbs! *best Christmas gift EVER, thanks Mom & Dad*

- An outdoor run/guided run using the Peloton Digital App - NOTE: They have a free 90 day trial!

- My coworker's free yoga classes (2x/week)

- HIIT workouts using the above mentioned Peloton App

- Hiking (ok, we went once), but we are lucky enough to have a car in the city right now, so escaping 40 minutes north of the city to the mountains was a truly beautiful day.

- Liz Moody's 3pm dance parties

- Daily walks exploring my neighborhood, and getting fresh air (wear a mask & keep your distance!)

2. A Little Bit of Ignorance: News Breaks - I try to avoid the news cycle for at least a few hours a day. Since my boyfriend works in news, I sometimes avoid the news all day and ask him for the most important updates at the end of the day. Ignorance really is bliss, at least for a little bit.

3. Nourishing My Mind & Body: Cooking - Testing out a new recipe and enjoying the finished product has been very rewarding for me over the past few years. Yes, we all need to eat, but the process of cooking nourishes much more than our bodies, it can also be extremely therapeutic for our minds. If you're not much of a cook, try starting with making something simple, like breakfast: eggs, a stove-top oatmeal, a smoothie, etc.!

I've been trying to challenge myself with some bigger projects (when I feel up to it) such as: baking homemade bread and focaccia, making my very first sourdough starter (in progress), and making the famous Lost Bread Company Pretzel Shortbread.

That reminds me! If you follow my personal Instagram account, you might've caught some of "Peter's Food Reviews" which has made me, and some of you smile, too!

Taking photos and sharing my food creations on Instagram has brought a little bit of joy into my days - so thank you for following along and being part of that!

These were a few of my favorite dinners we've made: Charred Sweet Potatoes with Tahini Butter, Cashew Caesar Kale Salad, Chickpea Pancakes/Socca with Roasted Vegetables.

4. Stop & Smell the Roses: Aromatherapy - Proven to physically calm you down, this is such a simple way to feel a little more zen in minutes!

I LOVE essential oils. Diffusing oils has brought me a sense of calm for over a year now, and I can never go back! I mostly use Young Living oils, but I also like the NOW brand.

I am not a huge fan of candles, many of them contain toxic chemicals, but Soy-based or Beeswax are safer to burn (the one pictured was a gift from my BFF - Chesapeake Bay: Reflection + Clarity).

I recently got into burning palo santo. Palo santo translates to "holy wood". When it's burned, it's said to help"cleanse" a room or a home of negative energies. I find the earthy scent to be very calming and therapeutic.

5. Just Breathe: Meditation - Listen, I know it's easier said than done but just you can just take 1 minute to breathe. Focusing on your breath helps calm your sympathetic nervous system (AKA pulls your body out of 'fight or flight' mode). I usually do the 4, 7, 8 method and it works wonders. There's also so many free trials for meditation apps like: Calm and Headspace. Bonus points if you use aromatherapy DURING your breathing/meditation.

6. Beyond Beauty Sleep: Rest - This has been ROUGH. My mind is ALWAYS cycling through every little thought and worry for the past/present/future... and now it has only escalated. Some things I've been doing to help me sleep:

- Limiting screen time and light exposure an hour before bed (AKA no phone and turning off all the lights except a dim lamp)

- Spraying my homemade "lavender" essential oil concoction on my pillow

- Doing a breathing exercise while in bed (see #5 above!)

- Visualizations of my day and what I am grateful for

- Reading always helps me calm my mind when I'm super wired

- The Great British Baking Show on Netflix -- I have no idea why but this is my go-to when I'm having a really rough night. Maybe it's the soothing music, the British accents, or that their only worry is having an under-baked biscuit!

7. Keep in Touch: Stay Social - Seeing familiar faces and chatting is ALMOST as good as getting together. Being in quarantine can get REALLY lonely, even if you're quarantined with other people. It's so important to connect with the people you love. FaceTime / Skype / Zoom / Google Hangouts have been a savior! Seriously, I am so thankful for technology right now. Although my sister is probably sick of me calling her 3x a day.

I had a virtual brunch with my friends and my family even got to have a virtual Easter with my aunts, uncles and cousins across the country (photos below)!

8. Stick to the Schedule: Routine - I know literally everyone says this, your mom, your boss, and every person who is remotely Instagram-famous. It's definitely hard to have a routine when your entire life has been flipped upside down. What I've found is having simple routine "moments" throughout the day works well. Something as simple as having a hot beverage every morning has helped me establish some sort of timeline. I try to wake up around the same time, even on weekends. When my work day gets super busy and I'm on 4-hour conference calls, I try to at least make time for meals and time for breaks.

9. Treat Yo' Self: Self Care - Face masks, eating cookies (or some homemade Tahini Billionaire Bliss Bars!), re-watching your favorite movie, ordering something on Amazon. I like to give myself something to look forward to... even if it's something simple! I'm currently trying to plan a little "spa day" for myself (I'll report back).

10. Give Yourself a Break: You're Doing Fine - Please see my previous blog post about stopping myself from feeling guilty or unproductive during a pandemic. Remember, a pandemic doesn't have to a time for you to unleash all of you creativity. It's OK to just keep yourself safe and healthy.

How are you keeping calm right now? Share your ideas in the comments below!

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