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Woman backbend yoga pose
Wellness
Published Friday Mar 20, 2020 by Christa Quattrocchi

The "Staying Grounded" Guide to Stress and Anxiety Pre- and Post-COVID-19

Meditation
Personal Growth
Renewal

If you've got those familiar feelings of stress and anxiety coursing through your body right now, you're definitely not alone. COVID-19 and this global pandemic have us anxious, coping with stress in weird ways, a new fear of the unknown, potential bouts of depression, maybe a panic attack here and there... We get it. Times are uncertain, our mental health is taxed, we're doing what we can to reduce stress and anxiety in general, and relaxation has taken a back seat. It’s no secret that stress is proven to weaken our immunity, so now more than ever, it's important to relax, deal with what's happening, and find the coping mechanisms to help you reclaim your mental health and reduce your involvement in stressed moments.

Let's deal with stress and anxiety together and see what we can do to reduce it. Here's how...  

 

Woman Meditating
Tune into your breath. 

A symptom of stress is our bodies entering the very real ‘fight or flight’ mode and feeling under attack physically and mentally. While stress and anxiety are taxing in a number of ways to our mental health, meditation can be powerful in combatting the symptoms and shifting from a state of anxiety into a ‘rest and digest’ mode by simply restructuring the way you breathe. Relax, set a timer for ten minutes, and try one of these simple breathing techniques to ease your day and help you be more productive

1.    Long Exhale Breath   
    ◦    Find a comfortable seat or lay down.  

    ◦    Start with a deep cleansing breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. 

    ◦    Establish an equal part breath. Inhale through your nose for 3 counts and exhale through your nose for 3 counts. Repeat this for 5 rounds.  

    ◦    Continue to inhale for 3 counts and lengthen the exhale to 5 counts. (You may play with the counts depending on your lung capacity.) 


2.    Against the Grain Breath  

    ◦    Find a comfortable seat or lay down. 

    ◦    Start with a deep cleansing breath in through your nose and out through the mouth. 

    ◦    Inhale and send it down into your belly and pause. Sip in more air to fill your ribcage, pause. Breathe all the way up to your collarbones, pause at the top. Exhale fully. 

    ◦    Take a cleansing breath in between each round. 


3.    Alternate Nostril Breath  

    ◦    Find a comfortable seat. 

    ◦    Lift your right hand to eye level, palm facing you. Fold your index and middle finger down toward your palm, leaving your pinky, ring, and thumb free. Gently place your ring finger on your left nostril. 

    ◦    Start with a deep cleansing breath in through your nose and out through the mouth. 

    ◦    Use your ring finger to close off your left nostril and inhale through your right nostril. Close your right nostril with your thumb and release your ring finger from the left nostril. Exhale through the left side. 

    ◦    Inhale through the left nostril. Close the left nostril with your ring finger and release your thumb from the right nostril. Exhale through the right side. 

    ◦    Continue to alternate from side to side. 

 

Childs Pose Yoga

Strike a (child’s) pose. 

Stress and anxiety are harbored in the upper body, generating tension in your shoulders and racing in your mind, making it near impossible to hone in on relaxation and deal with those stressed feelings and fear symptoms. Finding the security of the body’s foundation is a great way to get grounded and balance out all that accumulated stressed energy that carries your mind up, up, and away into the land of fear, worst-case scenarios, anxiety, and eventual panic attack symptoms. (Plus, it'll help with your post-at-home-workout recovery!) 

Try this sequence of postures that will help you feel nice and sturdy, as well as relieved and relaxed, letting anxiety and stress know they aren't welcome in this space.

    1.    Child’s Pose – Come down to your hands and knees. Let the tops of your feet and toes smooth on the ground and gather your big toes to touch. Either widen your knees greater than hips distance apart or keep them together and sink your seat all the way back to your heels. Rest your forehead on the ground and outstretch your arms forward. 

    2.    Downward Dog – From child’s pose, tuck your toes under, press into your palms, and lift your hips up to the ceiling creating a ‘V’ shape in your body. Keep your knees soft so your belly can sink back toward your thighs. 

    3.    Standing Forward Bend – Look forward between your thumbs and take slow, heel-toe steps up toward your hands. Your knees can stay soft as you let your torso drape over your legs. Feel the four corners of your feet solid on the ground beneath them and let go of any control over your head, neck, and shoulders. 

    4.    Mountain Pose – Tuck your chin in toward your chest. Ground down into your heels and slowly roll up to stand as if you were moving through honey, lifting your head last. Breathe in deeply and crunch your shoulders up by your ears. On the exhale, let them drop down your back. Stand strong and tall through your legs, fan out your fingers like you want to receive a low-five, and lift tall through your chest. Invite in the feeling of standing on a mountain top. You are strong and grounded here. 


 

Girls Hand Writing
Put pen to paper. 

Depression is very, very real. Burying our emotions and not coping with issues can be a lot like not taking out the trash—things get kind of funky for everyone if it sits around too long. While meditation and breathing exercises can replace anxious feelings with relaxation and mindfulness, journaling can be a great way to also move through any anxious feelings you’re holding onto and stay connected with yourself. If you’re not sure where to start, never fear! Try one of these writing prompts and kick anxiety to the curb:

    •    List 5 things you are grateful for. 

    •    What do you normally wish you had more time for? 

    •    Describe your 3 happiest moments of the last week. 


 

Girl Dancing B&W

Groove it out. 

Want to actually and physically shake anxiety and stress out of your life? Turn a potential panic attack into a dance party with yourself. The saying goes, "Dance like no one’s watching...."—because right now, it’s likely that no one is. Press play on this upbeat playlist we created to help you move that energy around. 

 

Bathtub candles book and tea

Turn your space into an at-home spa. 

Baths and facials are ancient self-care rituals. But let’s be real, these luxuries often get cast aside for more efficient ways of pampering like showers and sheet masks. With the gift of time on your side, slip into the tub and go all out with that 12-step skincare routine you’ve been wanting to try. Reduce the overhead lights, light up some candles, drop in some lavender and eucalyptus essential oils to elevate the ambiance, and kiss anxiety and stress goodbye as you sink into the water. 

Christa Quattrocchi Headshot
Written by
Christa Quattrocchi
Acquisition Program Manager
About the author
Christa is a 300hr certified yoga instructor on a soulful journey to integrate spiritual practices, such as astrology, tarot, and pranayama, in her guidance both on and off the mat. She is Mindbody’s resident witch and advertising aficionado. Beyond her credentials, you can find Christa channeling creativity through writing, cooking plant-based goodness, & surfing her home waters in sunny San Diego.
stress definition
Wellness
Published Thursday May 06, 2021 by Denise Prichard

How Stress Has Impacted These 10 US Cities

Fitness
Self-care
Mental health

Welcome to my regular cadence of blog posts where we talk about—you guessed it—stress. This past year, we’ve been talking about it A LOT. If that’s not the understatement of the century, then I don’t know what is. Oh, and ICYMI April was Stress Awareness Month—and even though that month is over that doesn’t mean our “awareness” of the stress in our lives just magically disappears. Ask me how I know. In fact, I was stressed even thinking of a title for this piece. STRESS IS REAL PEOPLE. 

With 67% of adults reporting their stress levels have skyrocketed over this past year, odds are you’ve probably been plagued by this unfortunate feeling quite a bit. In fact, it’s been so overwhelmingly apparent that stress plays a big role in most of our day-to-day lives that it was a major component of the 2021 Mindbody Wellness Index. This year, the survey set out to understand who has been affected the most by surveying the 50 most populous cities in the US.  

If you see your city on this list, please know that you are not alone and there are many ways to combat stress—like chilling out in a yoga class, venting in your journal, and leaning on your bestie for advice. Heck—we even have a guide to help you learn how to keep your chill.  

So, without further ado, here are the most stressed-out cities in the US according to our Mindbody Wellness Index.  

1. Oakland, CA  

I hate to break it to you, Oaklanders—but you topped our list as the most-stressed city in the US. But you all aren’t just succumbing to pressure—you also said you’re making a solid effort to get your health and wellness back on track. Out of all the cities on this list, you had the highest number of people who used meditation as a stress reducer during the pandemic (30%).  

Now that we’re starting to get back to some form of normalcy, might I suggest taking a stroll around your neighborhood and appreciating the sizable gnome population as an instant mood-booster?  

2. Minneapolis, MN 

Coming in at number two is Minneapolis. Unfortunately, 61% of you reported feeling an abundance of stress during the pandemic. However, like Oakland, you’re also making some serious strides to decrease your stress by leaning into your fitness routines. How are you doing this? By focusing on weight and strength training, partaking in cardio, and practicing yoga.  

Minneapolis—if you’re ever feeling stressed, just remember that your city is home to one of the greatest musicians of all time—Prince. So go ahead and “Party Like it’s 1999” whenever you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed. 

3. Oklahoma City, OK  

Next up is Oklahoma City.  While you experience a great deal of stress, you’re also making some serious moves to increase happiness and wellness with 63% of you exercising once a week or more. However, you also had the smallest percentage of folks putting more focus on health and wellness throughout the past year. 

Here’s a fun fact that may just put a smile on your face—Oklahoma City recently adopted the nickname “The Big Friendly.”  

4. El Paso, TX 

El Paso does sit pretty high up on this list in the number four spot. Y’all may want to pay special attention to catching some z’s each night since you had the highest percentage of folks lacking in the sleep department—which is a major contributor to stress. On top of that, you also said you feel the least connected to their community among the 50 cities surveyed. 

There’s nothing that a giant dose of Vitamin D can’t fix (at least that’s what my doctor says)—so get outside and enjoy the 302 days of sunshine that your city has to offer! 

5. Los Angeles, CA 

Ahhh the City of Angels. According to our survey, you came in as the fifth most-stressed city. But in true LA fashion you are using healthy coping mechanisms to regain a peaceful state of mind—almost 80% of you exercise once a week or more. Also, literally like none of you smoke which can also help you find balance.  

There are a lot of fun facts about your city, but I decided to hit with a funny fact instead. Did you know that Charlie Sheen once bought 2,615 outfield seats at Angels Stadium so he could catch a home run ball? And guess what—he walked out empty-handed.  

6. Tulsa, OK 

Unlike LA, Tulsa has the most smokers out of all the cities on this list. You also don’t make exercise a top priority with your city ranking third to last in exercising consistently and second to last in getting a good night’s sleep.  

Mmmbop...sorry for getting that song stuck in your head for the rest of the day—but we have your city to thank for the Hanson brothers. Also, does anybody else think they are the Russian Dolls on this season of The Masked Singer, or is that just me?  

7. New Orleans, LA 

To say your city has been through a lot over the years would be an understatement. This year, we also learned you were in the bottom ten for having close relationships with family and friends—which isn’t surprising given the fact that we were all forced to shelter-in-place for the majority of the year.  Hopefully, as fitness studios and wellness businesses start to welcome more and more people back, the stress you are all experiencing will quickly dissipate.  

With vaccines becoming more available to the general public, happy hours are a thing again! Get together with some of your friends and (responsibly) enjoy some  iconic drinks your city has to offer.  

8. Miami, FL 

Though your city made this list for experiencing high stress, you also topped the list for several wellness practices. In fact, 86% of you say you get a good workout sesh in once a week or more. On top of that, you were quick to take advantage of virtual fitness classes, with 75% of you saying you regularly work out from home. You are also the number one city to receive massages, partake in strength training group classes, aerobics, and dance fitness classes.  

I think we can all agree that any demonstration of girl power is something to be happy about. Did you know that your city is the only major US city to be founded by a woman? It’s true—Miami officially became a city in 1896 after local businesswoman Julia Tuttle encouraged one railroad mogul to expand into the area. 

9. Altana, GA 

Seventy-one percent of you turned to health and wellness when the pandemic made our daily routines come to a screeching halt. You stepped up by taking advantage of health and life coaching the most out of any other city and you also came in second for using meditation to de-stress during the pandemic. 

Hi—it’s me again here to hit you with not one but TWO funny facts about Atlanta. Did you know that it was once illegal to put an ice cream cone in your back pocket? Oh, and it’s also illegal to tie a giraffe to a telephone pole. Umm what. 

10. Denver, CO 

Denver—you may have made this list, but you’re straight up flexing to help combat stress. In fact, you top the list when it comes to incorporating weight and strength training into your workout routines. On top of that, 20% of you are also tapping into a blissful state of mind by practicing yoga regularly.  

As Matthew McConaughey once cleverly said, the "man who invented the hamburger was smart," but the "man who invented the cheeseburger was a genius." Well, Denver, that genius just happens to be from your city. Louis Ballast began selling them in 1935 at the Humpty Dumpty Drive-In.  

If your city made this list, don’t...stress? There are a number of classes available to you on the Mindbody app that are designed to help you keep calm and carry on. Or, if you want to take your at-home routine to the next level, you can get your daily dose of virtual chill pills by booking classes through Mindbody Flex.   

denise prichard
Written by
Denise Prichard
Marketing Content Specialist
About the author
Denise Prichard is a certified yoga instructor (RYT-200) and an experienced content marketing professional with a penchant for writing compelling copy within the health, wellness and beauty industries. When she isn't writing or editing, you can find her teaching yoga classes, at a spin class or hanging out with her rescue pups.