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Stress Relief and Finding Calm in the Chaos

stress free zone

Different cities around the world are lifting lockdowns and some people are feeling that things are slowly returning to “normal.” For those who have lost loved ones during the pandemic, or for some of those who have lost their jobs or opportunities amid the crisis, going back isn’t even an option.

Covid-19 has upended all the normal routines in our lives, but it has also given many an enormous opportunity to reflect on our lives and, potentially, to reset our lives, as well as reimagine, and reset our world.

Photo by Denise Toledo Fleetham


I loved reading through this collection of hopeful responses from 58 people from 24 countries about some of the new habits and new lifestyles to keep in a post-lockdown world and thought you might enjoy reading this too.

Destigmatizing, normalizing and prioritizing mental health

Because of the ongoing pandemic many people are experiencing “Covid fatigue” and feeling a lack of motivation, exhaustion, depression and loneliness. Psychologists also say that getting back to pre-pandemic routines might also be overwhelming for some.

I wanted to share some tips that might help with finding calm in the chaos. 🤍

Asking for help is strength

The Counselling Hub makes mental health care services more accessible to those in need. They offer one-on-one counselling services in Woodstock, Cape Town for R50 a session. Call them on 021 462 3902 to book a session.

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group has a Mental Health Line. Call 011 234 4837 to speak to a counsellor.
Miss South Africa 2020, Shudufhadzo Musida, also has a mental health initiative #MindfulMondays in partnership with SADAG where she speaks to various experts on a diverse range of topics related to the subject on Instagram on Monday evenings at 19h00. I also enjoy following the amazing mental health advocates @thesouthafricantherapist and @drjess_stanbridge on Instagram.
Checking in with loved ones can also be incredibly uplifting. Your support can really make a huge difference. If you don’t know how to tell someone they’re not alone, take a look here to help you get the conversation started.

Take deep breaths

Simply breathing can help with stress relief, but did you know that shallow, short breaths can actually make you feel more anxious. Deep breathing decreases stress and increases calm. Learn how to do deep breathing here. Dr Neda Gould, PhD also has some lovely videos on Youtube that teach this relaxation technique.
feeling stress
Photo by Kajetan Sumila

Getting enough sleep is a healthy way to cope with stress. If stress is keeping you from getting your z’s, try the apps Headspace or Calm for meditation, sleep sounds and music. These apps also have great bedtimes stories for adults to fall asleep to. (They also help getting my five-year-old drift into dreamland much faster!) These CBD capsules also really help me get some sleep at night.

Finally, my absolute favourite videos for finding calm and peace are Boho Beautiful’s Juliana’s guided meditations. With 2+ million Youtube subscribers, I’m sure you will also enjoy this travel, yoga and lifestyle brand.

Try creative activities to relieve stress

Studies have shown that art therapy, adult colouring and drawing in general can also be a great stress relief tool. Even if you’re not good at art, colouring mandalas or doing some art therapy is great for adding to your self-care routine. Just go with what you feel on a page. It’s not about the end product, but all about mindfully creating something beautiful that distracts us from feelings of stress and anxiety.

Eat stress-busting foods

Try to eat healthy meals and exercise regularly to help tame stress. Take a look at this list of 10 best foods to help fight stress. Below are some of my favourites:

Craving chocolate in stressful situations? Go ahead, grab some dark chocolate! Raw chocolate is a rich source of of magnesium and mood enhancing brain chemicals, including PEA (phenylethylamine), anandamide, serotonin and dopamine. Make raw chocolate smoothies and desserts of all kinds with our raw and organic cacao powder. It’s also great to sprinkle over your breakfast.

raw chocolate for stress relief

Avocados are very high in omega 3-fatty acids that are known to reduce stress and anxiety. Purchase some chia seeds here and flaxseeds here to add even more omega-3s to your plate.

Nuts are full of many nutrients that may help reduce feelings of stress. Almonds, pistachios and walnuts are heart-healthy and high in the antioxidant vitamin E and zinc. Add some almonds to your cart here.

Heal through medicinal food

Soaring Free Superfoods developed their Potent Plants range to be used for their medicinal properties, for optimal health and wellness. In essence Potent Plants are medicinal foods which act to restore and replenish your body as supplements would, but in a natural way which the body already recognises and can easily absorb. If you are deficient in vital nutrients and looking for supplements or if you want to upgrade your health to help your body to deal with the daily pressures of life and environmental stressors, then Potent Plants are for you.

I love using their Euphoria Mood Enhancer Blend when I feel emotionally drained, stressed and anxious. Their Ashwagandha capsules are also great for supporting adrenal health and treating a variety of conditions.

Quieting my busy mind

Tourism Month is celebrated annually in September and I was honoured to have been invited to Angala Boutique Hotel last month. We are truly blessed to live in beautiful South Africa and I will never tire of being a tourist in my own country. Located in the heart of the Cape Winelands, this beautiful retreat for body, mind and spirit was just what I needed to fill my cup. Between the magnificent mountains I was reminded to slow down and that every phase of my journey serves a purpose. Being a small business owner and having to juggle many roles (including wife and mom!) is VERY hard. I’m still working on improving my work-life balance, and my time alone at Angala was such a good reminder that I need to make time for myself.

Angala is a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Walking through the door you feel instantly relaxed and I love how they not only look after their guests exceptionally well, but also look after our planet. Check out their amazing eco pool here.

The month of October has been declared Mental Health Awareness Month in South Africa. Angala is currently running spring special packages (and will be hosting amazing yoga and art retreats in November). If you need a little time out to relax, that’s what you will get at this barefoot 5-star sanctuary.

stress free getaways

Thank you for reading my tips and thoughts. If you have any advice, resources and rituals for practicing self-care to share with those struggling with mental health problems, please pop them in the comments below.

Please note that I am not a doctor. This post is for educational and informational purposes only, and does not constitute any professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Stay healthy and take care of yourself!

Love and virtual hugs,
Janneke and Team Shop Zero™ Xx