The start of the 2020s has been a tough time for everyone. The COVID-19 pandemic, and now global conflict and a potential cost of living crisis, have all contributed to increased stress levels. And for many this has taken a toll on our mental health. When you are feeling very low you should of course seek professional help, but for day-to-day stress, there are many things you can do to bring down anxiety levels. Here are some online activities that we recommend.
Many people find yoga and meditation a great way to tackle anxiety by clearing the thoughts and minds of those participating. Studies have shown that regular meditation once or twice a day can have many benefits such as a reduction of stress, anxiety, and can even be used as part of a program to tackle depression. The functionality of these activities can also improve our physical and emotional health as it contributes to increased concentration, memory, and even physical strength.
What you might not know is that you don’t need to venture out to a meditation class if you want to practice. There are in fact many videos on YouTube that can be followed. Just sit back in your yoga pose with the sound on and follow the instructions. Amongst the most popular yoga instructor videos currently is ‘Yoga with Adriene.’
Another mind and body technique for stress is Pilates. This reinforces the natural movement patterns of the body, whilst creating a muscle-to-mind connection enhancing both physical and mental health.
Experts in these fields recommended that we meditate for at least 5 minutes a day. Which isn’t much time to give up when you think about it!
2. Playing Online Games
Online games can create a false reality in the mind which can help offset some stress on the body. Whether it’s 5-10 minutes of playing games a day, it has been shown to clear the mind of negative thoughts and relax muscles such as the trapezius muscles, which can become tense when working in a stressful environment.
Candy Crush is a popular online game with many of us crunching candy pieces on the daily commute home from work. Some like to play online slots like the ones on these sites – you can do this for free, you don’t have to spend money and it can be quite therapeutic. More intellectual games have become popular in recent months, such as the daily word game wordle, or if you prefer something more mathematical, sudoku is also another popular game.
3. Join Chat Groups, Forums
Talking about stress can help to reduce stress as it decreases the feeling of loneliness, one of the most common causes of mental health problems. Battling these situations on your own can create an extremely stressful situation in your head, however, sharing your thoughts with like-minded people can improve your emotional and physical health. It is also a great way to form a network of connections with people with whom you can chat in case a situation arises.
An example of a forum to join is mentalhealthforum.net. They cover all topics on mental health from introducing yourself, to employment, to relationships and more. With many users joining these forums and chats every day, it is likely that you will virtually meet new people every day. The popular saying ‘a problem shared, is a problem halved’ is prominent in this situation and you never know you may help to relieve someone else’s stress just by listening.
4. Reading Books Online
Reading is another activity that creates a false reality and enhances our creativity and imagination. Reading can release serotonin, a hormone that makes us feel happy, and through this reduces the level of stress on the body. For some, reading is a big task that may seem overwhelming, and by reading just a few pages a day, you may feel a sense of accomplishment, improving your mental and emotional health.
With the enhancement of technology, books are slowly becoming a thing of the past. With Kindles, iPads, and iPhones all having sufficient technology to hold books, it is one less thing for you to carry. Reading online has become more and more popular through these enhancements. Whether it is a self-help, fiction, or factual book, reading has the power to completely switch one’s mindset. It can also be done anywhere, whether it’s how you decompress on your way home from work or school or even to pass some time whilst you travel, it is one of the best ways to relieve stress.
5. Watch Cat Videos
Cats are loveable and majestic creatures whom we know as our pets. Studies have shown that watching cat videos can increase the levels of serotonin in the brain due to the ‘cuteness’ of these creatures. According to the Daily Mail, a study carried out by the University of Leeds suggested that watching cute animal videos for just thirty minutes a day can lower blood pressure by 24%. It can also reduce anxiety by 35%, with some experiencing a decrease of 50%. There are many videos on YouTube to watch to alleviate your stress, so why not give it a try?
6. Online ‘Window Shopping’
Many people find online shopping uncomfortable, however, since lockdown, it has become a hobby for your average person. Scrolling through items you like and the visualization of owning a specific outfit or item of clothing can lower stress levels in the body. Fashion fanatics may find this activity therapeutic and will reach to scroll when they are feeling emotionally vulnerable. Without purchasing these items, shoppers may scroll for hours and hours, without buying a single thing. The release of one’s stress may just be a few clicks away.
Whilst we are not offering cures to the most serious cases of depression in this article, we do show that there are some simple and free online exercises that you can partake in that can cool your anxiety and improve your mental health. Even if you just choose to try one or two of these a few times a week you might be surprised at the results!