Quarantine Fun!

During uncertain times like these, keeping stress levels low seems to be even more difficult than usual. Spending time with friends, going to the gym, or discovering new coffee shops used to help me manage my stress. Due to the current circumstances, I’ve had to get a little creative with other ways to occupy myself in quarantine. I am very lucky to be staying with my family in my childhood home. Thankfully, we have a pretty big yard and even a little greenhouse sitting at the corner of our property. Now that it is springtime, gardening of any type can be a really healthy hobby to get into. I’ve found that getting my hands dirty and digging in the soil can actually be quite relaxing and also humbling. Of course you do not need to have a whole greenhouse or even a backyard to garden. Even potting some house plants or making a DIY mini garden box with some scrap wood can totally suffice! Any type of planting and tending really takes my mind off of things. The great part about gardening is that it requires physical work and concentration, so I’m actually directing my energy somewhere useful. Personally, if I’m pent up all day, my energy is spent overthinking and fueling my stress. Now don’t get me wrong, I do love to chill out and watch a good show or movie, but that can get quite repetitive especially now. The most rewarding part about keeping plants or growing vegetables in a garden is observing the hard work you’ve put in. Whether you get to smell the beautiful flowers that have blossomed or eat the vegetables that you’ve grown, gardening is super satisfying, and it’s a great activity.

I’ve never thought of myself as a chemist, let alone a scientist, but I have used this quarantine as an opportunity to experiment in the kitchen. Now if you love to cook, you most likely have a few favorite dishes to recreate. That is why I’m not simply saying that cooking in the kitchen will relieve your stress, especially since everyone varies with kitchen skills, but what everyone can do is try something new! I have tried so many unique recipes found on Pinterest, and I’ve put my own twists on the dishes; it has definitely been a great way to get my creative juices flowing. Indubitably, sometimes the food doesn’t turn out great, but that’s kind of the fun in it. A large portion of my time is usually spent deciding what kind of ingredients I want to incorporate. Although grocery stores are open, it is not as easy or simple to make a stop every time I realize I’m missing an ingredient. In fact, my pantry is loaded with canned foods and other strange jars that I’ve been able to use as a replacement for something else. For example, using canned chickpeas as a base for many desserts works fantastically and adds a little more nutrients to whatever treat you make. Cooking without restraint or expectations really allows you to enjoy yourself and focus on the task at hand. It certainly helps the time pass, and my family always likes to try whatever concoctions I’ve made up that day!

Another straight forward and simple way to relieve stress is sipping on tea. There is something about the warmth that brings me comfort and calms me down. Additionally, I would suggest to try and stop drinking caffeine or at least reduce your intake. Because I’m at home these days, I don’t really have the excuse that I “need caffeine” to make it through the day. A nice cup of joe may be part of your routine, but if you are continuing to have difficulties alleviating stress you might want to consider its the coffee. Now be aware that most green tea is mildly caffeinated, but it also contains an amino acid called Theanine which has a relaxing effect on your brain. Theanine is counteractive to the typical effects of caffeine like an increased heart rate. Aside from the relaxing benefits green tea also has a lot of antioxidants that are fantastic for your health! There is no denying that there is a bitterness to green tea; some acquire a taste for it while others find it unpleasant, but you can always add a little honey or sugar to sweeten it up. Of course there is also plenty of research on the benefits of coffee; however, if you are more concerned about managing stress, then reducing caffeine may be something to contemplate. I definitely will always be a coffee drinker at heart, but in times of stress I would argue tea may be a better alternative. If you need that extra boost in the morning drink black tea, and at night when you are trying to wind down drink some chamomile. 

With all of this in mind, it is important to recognize that people can be stressed for all types of reasons depending on their situation. What matters is that our anxieties or worries are acknowledged and that we try to manage these feelings. These tips are just several things that have helped me get through this time, and they may not always work for everyone; however if you haven’t already, give them a try! Wherever you are or however you may feel during these months remember that you are not alone and things will get better.