reducing stress

Reducing stress and keeping a calm belly

The situation that we are currently in, the Corona crisis, causes a lot of people stress, worry and fear. I noticed that it really impacted me too last week. I was continuously thinking about Corona, I felt scared and stressed. I felt some kind of pressure on my chest, was breathing quicker and I had an upset stomach. Because when you are an IBS-er stomach problems are often a part of moments where you feel stressed. In the past few days, I managed to get my stress under control and now I feel calm again. I wanted to share my tips with you to reduce stress during this weird period. 

1. Avoid watching the news too often

Since the Corona virus reached the Netherlands, I had been almost continuously checking the news. The live blog from the NOS (the Dutch national news broadcaster) was open all the time and I was constantly reading what was happening. Also when I opened Facebook, Instagram or even Whatsapp, I was being confronted with the Corona virus. This caused a lot of stress and worry for me.

Because of that, I made the decision that I will only read the news a few times per day. For example: once in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening. Apart from that I try to avoid my news and Facebook apps as much as possible and I have cleaned up my Instagram, so I only follow accounts that make me happy or inspire me. 

Sometimes it is still difficult and I don’t manage every day to only check the news 3 times, but I notice that it really helps me to be aware of how much I was watching the news and actively try to not do that anymore. 

2. Change your focus

In a situation like this, it is hard to not focus on what is going on. The Corona crisis has such a big impact on our lives, that it is hard to not be reminded of it. For me, the facts that I am working from home and that I don’t see any other people except for my boyfriend are already enough to constantly remind me of the situation that we are in. But I actively try to change my focus from thinking about the situation and all the bad things about it, to the little things in life that make me happy. 

Such as the funny video calls that I have with colleagues during the work day or with friends in the evening, the beautiful flowers that are in my living room, a clean house or home made low FODMAP muffins. 

Focusing on the little normal things in life that make you happy, help you to stop focusing on the Corona situation. That gives more peace and less stress. 

reducing stress

3. Meditate

Meditation is something that I have been willing to try for years, but I never managed to keep doing it. Some time ago, I read a book by the Dutch writer Jelle Hermus about meditation and he taught me that meditation doesn’t have to be difficult at all. Since reading that book, I have started meditating for 5 minutes a day (really keeping it small for now, until it becomes a habit) and I notice that this gives me a lot of peace, also in the current situation. 

I think that meditation will also have a positive effect on my IBS-complaints, especially in the long run, because part of my complaints are stress-related. As soon as I get a little stressed, my complaints skyrocket. Therefore, meditation is something that I want to continue doing and build out into longer sessions. I believe that this can structurally decrease stress for me in the long run. I can definitely recommend giving meditation a try, if you notice that your complaints increase when you have stress.

I do a simple mantra-based meditation now, where I say a short sentence in my head over and over during the meditation (the mantra that I used was advised in the book that I read and is as simple as saying “I am” over and over in your head). Saying this mantra helps me to keep focused and makes the meditation easy to do. 

4. Move

Moving and exercising can help a lot to get out of your head and to fully focus on the activity that you are doing. Now that we are sitting inside so much, it is nice to exercise a bit. I notice that I really feel like moving these days. I try to go out for a small walk twice per day, of course in a place without many other people and while keeping enough distance. Currently in the Netherlands, that is still allowed, so I like getting some fresh air. Next to that, I like going for a run now and then or to do a yoga session on Youtube. 

5. Distract yourself

I notice it really helps when I distract myself from everything that is going on. Normally, I really like going on a walk by myself and just letting my thoughts wander, but last week I noticed that that really didn’t work right now. When I was walking by myself or just being alone with my thoughts, I started to focus on the situation and got stressed out. Therefore, I now try to distract myself when I am walking by myself or when I am alone at other moments. 

Usually, I often listen to podcasts or audiobooks about topics such as business, blogging and personal development, but I don’t like that now while my head already feels so full. Now, I try to listen to things that don’t need too much focus and aren’t heavy, such as audiobooks with a light topic or happy music. 

reducing stress

6. Do things that make you happy

Try to take good care of yourself during this period and do things that make you happy. That will make you feel better! For me things that make me happy and that I can do in the current situation are: cooking a healthy low FODMAP meal, baking a treat, reading a good book, going for a walk in the sun, playing a game, watching a serie, learning a new language, calling family or friends or working on Karlijn’s Kitchen. These things keep me busy and make me forget the situation that is going on in the world. 

I noticed that, since I started applying the things above, I don’t have pressure on my chest anymore and that my stomach has calmed down. I can deal with the situation better and I feel better. Of course it is still a very strange situation to be in and it still scares me sometimes, but I do feel like it doesn’t take over my life as much as it did last week. And I think that that is important because except for following the guidelines that our governments give us, there is nothing we can do right now to change the situation. Therefore you can better accept the fact that you have to stay inside a lot and make the best out of it! 

I hope that these tips were helpful for you and that you are doing well. What are you doing during these times to keep calm? 

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