How to naturally destress during the COVID-19 pandemic


Hello, and welcome to Suvatacast. I’m Ysmay, I’m the founder of, and this show is here to help guide you on your journey through yoga and wellness so you can become your best self ever. In today’s episode, I’m going to share with you some tips about how to reduce your stress levels naturally.

But before we get into today’s topic, here’s a quick message about our sponsor.

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I would like to share a reading with you from the book 365 Daily Meditations for On and Off The Mat by Scott Ginsberg.

Today’s reading for April 2. Pay no attention to the noise around you. Practice with distractions. This helps you remain calm in the midst of chaos.

By doing so, in smaller situations, you develop a deeper ability to walk your truth through the larger storms on the horizon.

This feels so relevant today. With everything that we have going on in the world right now with the coronavirus pandemic, people feeling fearful and isolated. And I want you to use this time when you come to your mat to not worry about everything being calm and perfect and quiet because let’s face it, that is so not happening right now. I want you to practice with the awareness of those distractions. See if you can find peace.

Even though everything around you may be completely chaotic, strengthen that muscle Strengthen your ability to avoid the distractions mentally.

And this is going to serve you later on. The more you do this, the more you practice with distractions, the stronger your focus will become. You’re training that mental muscle, and it will serve you well once we get out of this pandemic, and things start to return to normal.

Women Meditating

These are some crazy times we’re living in right now. Everybody is stressed about something.

Whether you have had COVID-19, or know someone who has or you’re afraid of catching it, maybe your business has been impacted. Things right now are extremely stressful. And all of that tension and anxiety is weighing us down both mentally and physically.

We are not making healthy choices. We are not living as our best and highest self. We are succumbing to junk food cravings and just laying on the couch and binge watching Netflix while drinking. And things are not very healthy right now.

And I think this is a natural stress response for humans. We tend to gravitate towards the unhealthy as we get more stressed out, and I don’t know about you, but I personally gravitate towards Oreos, which are vegan, yay, vegan. I was so happy when I found that out.

And I will admit, at the start of this shutdown that we’re currently living in in New York, I totally ate an entire package of Oreos over the course of two days.

And that was not my best moment. But it was my natural stress response. So when meditation and yoga feel like they’re just somehow not going to be enough, I turned to junk food. Now I know that’s a mental fallacy.

I know, in my heart of hearts that yoga and meditation is enough. But when I go into that fear mode, and I let the stress of being afraid takeover, it is very easy for me to turn to comfort food.

Fortunately, there are plenty of tried and true methods for reducing stress that don’t involve eating a package of Oreos over the course of 48 hours.

And to my credit, it did take an entire 48 hours. It could have taken 12 hours, but I paced myself.

So here are five options. To de stress naturally and healthily options that don’t involve any Oreos. First up is exercise.

Exercise it might just be the best natural stress reliever out there. For one thing, a good workout releases endorphins which are your bodies feel good chemicals. They act as sort of a natural painkiller and ward off anxiety, stress intention.

Plus exercise helps you expend energy and tire you out so you get a better night’s sleep. And I don’t know about you, but I am so not sleeping very well right now with all the craziness going on in the world.

So exercise is definitely a way that we can sleep better without having to resort to things like a glass of bourbon before bed, or sleeping pills.

Another reason exercise is helpful is it’s basically meditation in motion you’ll often find after a long run you feel like you’ve forgotten the day’s irritations because you’ve only been concentrating on your body’s movements. Now I know when you’re running, there’s a lot of other things that are coming in and out of your mind.

But the types of thoughts that you’re having and the way that you’re able to focus on those thoughts is very different than if you’re just sitting at home in front of your computer. Your body helps distract your mind from all of these other problems. So exercise can be very very meditative. Next up is essential oils. Essential oils have long been used around the house for things like cleaning aids, digestive aids, and as aroma therapy aids.

If you’re living with a lot of stress intention during this pandemic, essential oils might actually help you reduce that stress in addition to practice Seeing your mind body techniques such as yoga and meditation. You can also diffuse essential oils in your home studio or your bedroom wherever you happen to be, and help bring that stress level down.

There are a few key oils that I recommend to help you make your home feel more peaceful and more like a sanctuary rather than the chaotic place that you’re currently isolated in. Lavender is one of the most effective essential oils for stress reduction.

In a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, participants were exposed to a stressor prior to completing a memory task. Those who inhaled lavender prior to being stressed performed better than those who inhaled a placebo aroma.

Furthermore, in a study published in the International Journal of Nursing Practice, aromatherapy with a 3% lavender spray was found to be effective in reducing work-related stress.

You can find essential lavender oil in basically any soothing aromatherapy product, such as bath salts, massage oils, shampoos, you name it, you can find lavender in it.

One of my personal favourite ways to use lavender essential oil though is in the laundry. I keep a stack of essential oils next to the laundry and based on what I am washing, I add some drops to the washer. And what we get as a result is laundry that helps us calm down or invigorates us depending on what we’re washing. So for sheets for pyjamas for bathrobes, I use lavender for clothes that we are going to wear to work that we want to feel centred, and I use sandalwood.

So there’s a lot of different ways that you can use essential oils but I have found that laundry is one of the ones that is very effective for both me and my husband. There’s also the diffuser option you can diffuse your lavender oils if you don’t want to put it into the laundry directly. You can have a little diffuser going wherever you happen to be, and just get a few spritz of lavender throughout the day.

Next up is do yoga, and you probably are not surprised to hear this one because after all, this is the podcast for Sugata yoga and I am a yoga teacher. However, I do feel it’s worth noting that yoga can be a powerful stress reliever. Many people rely on yoga to help them de-stress for very good reason. A regular yoga practise fortifies your mind and body connection sometimes Yogi’s become so in tune with themselves, they can fight stress and anxiety as effectively as they could with medication.

Experts believe that Yoga has a direct effect on the central nervous system as well as on the body’s stress response. Experts have been saying for years now that yoga can help you reduce your cortisol levels, which will then in turn, reduce the amount of stress you feel. As yoga lowers your blood pressure and cortisol levels you feel much less tension in your body.

So if you’re struggling to feel like you’re holding it all together right now, get that yoga mat out. It doesn’t matter if you have to do it in the kitchen, in the living room, in the bathroom, even do some yoga, spend 10 minutes just on yourself and see how you feel.

Maybe put on some rockin’ music that’s going to help you feel cheerful Or put on something that’s more mellow and soothing, light some incense. Set up your essential oil diffuser. Take your stress and anxiety to your yoga mat and I promise you, you will start to feel a little bit better.

It may not happen overnight, but doing this consistently will help train you to turn to yoga in times of stress. And over time, not only are you going to feel less stressed, you’re going to build up more regularity in your yoga practice. You’re going to get stronger both mentally and physically and what’s not to love about that.

Fourth is to lean on your social circle. Family and friends can help you fight stress. Whether they’re aware you’re feeling frazzled by all of this social isolation or not.

Simply spending time with loved ones will make you feel like you belong and it will boost your sense of self-worth.

In women, especially social connections help the body create oxytocin, which is an all-natural stress reliever.

On top of that, both men and women have lower levels of anxiety and depression when they have friends around. So keep your connection strong, and you will feel better. Now, I know that’s easier said than done during this time of social distancing. But I want you to do what you can, even if it’s just a digital.

My husband, for example, has been getting on video chat with friends that he hasn’t talked to or seen in quite a while. But they’re all getting together and hanging out on Google Hangouts. And they’re sharing some drinks together virtually and they’re laughing and they’re having a fantastic time. You can use digital tools to build your connections, to build the strength of your sense of community. Even if you are like most have us and your social distancing or you’re in complete isolation. Put this technology that you have to good use.

You can use Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, you could host a Facebook Live where you pop on Facebook Live and people can just hang out and pop on with you. Or they can chat in the comments. Get creative, and really empower yourself to make those connections because if you don’t do it, nobody else is going to do it for you. You have to take this into your own hands.

This is a great time as well to lean on your pets if you have any. I wish I had a cat right now my poor cat died almost two years ago and I’m finally feeling emotionally ready to welcome a cat into my heart again.

But if you have one or if you have a dog, spending time with your pet can help you feel a little less alone. During this chaotic and extremely stressful social distancing that we have.

And last but not least, is eat well. Your Diet might be contributing to your feelings of stress and anxiety.

And one obvious candidate to cut from your daily menu would be the biggest source of junk food, which, you know, again, going back to my Oreo story from earlier, that was a one-time thing but if I had noticed an ongoing trend of Oreos in my daily life, I wouldn’t be getting rid of them right now. The other thing to cut out is coffee. I love me some coffee. I spent years managing coffee shops.

I’m all about coffee, but caffeinated coffee causes anxiety in me. I love the way it tastes. I don’t love the way it makes me feel and part of that is because I can never just drink one cup.

I always want another one. But I also tend to gravitate towards the highly caffeinated coffee roasts and the highly caffeinated brewing preparations. So for me, I have to stick to the decaf varieties and that’s okay.

I know some people are anti decaf and you know you do you but for me decaf is very helpful because I get the taste without the anxiety. It’s not just about avoiding Oreos or switching to decaf, it’s about making sure your body is properly nourished. When your body has all of the nutrients it needs to be healthy. Then you’re giving yourself a leg up, you’re giving yourself a strong foundation on which you can build everything else and all of your other healthy habits.

But without that without the foundation of nutrition, it is all too easy to just spin your wheels and feel like you’re never going to get anywhere.

So you’re doing yoga and you’re not feeling any calmer, you’re exercising, you’re sleeping better. You’re talking to your friends, you’re doing all of these other stress-relieving things, but then you’re eating like crap. And the net result there is it’s very difficult to gain traction and momentum and it’s also not sustainable long term. Eat for nutrition. First and foremost, don’t think about weight loss. Don’t think about comfort, think about what your body needs in order to be healthy and vibrant because this is going to set you up to be successful in all other areas. I personally am a plant-based vegan.

There are a lot of vegans who eat the processed meat products from the supermarket. A lot of pastas and things like that. I am not one of those vegans I am a vegan who prefer see all my nutrients from plants. I have a plant-based vitamin powder that I mix up every day. So it’s just a powder made out of plants and it gets all of the vitamins and nutrients that I need in one serving.

So I have that as my foundation start my day off beverage. I also eat giant salads, I’m all about salads. I love curries. I love stir-fries. All big plant based meals. is really the core of what it is I like to do to make sure I’m healthy and also make sure my family is healthy. My husband is a meat-eater. He is all about bacon and steak but I do all the cooking so he Only has bacon or steak, if he goes out somewhere and orders it. And since we have been living this way where I’ve been the primary cook in our household, he too has gotten healthier.

His stress levels are lower, and he’s not drinking as much beer and he’s not smoking as many cigarettes because his body has the proper nutrients it needs to balance out his brain chemistry. And also just so he feels good as he goes throughout the day. This is what I want for you to I want you to use this time. I want you to use this lockdown this time of social distancing and isolation to make your life better than ever and it starts by rewiring your habits. It starts by changing the way you eat and the way you sleep and the way you handle stress and the way you exercise. Over on I have a lot of resources that could help you with this and they’re almost entirely free.

I have 1400 plus yoga videos, we’ve got articles and recipes. And we have a paid program called a reboot, which is a 30-day wellness reset. We are going to undo bad habits. We are going to make new ones. It comes complete with meal plans, recipe guides, pantry lists and meditations and it’s super affordable.

But if you’re not in a position right now, where you feel like you can invest in something like that, please still take advantage of the free resources we have on our website because I know that everybody’s at a different point in their life than they were a month ago.

And $30 for the Reboot program may be out of your ability right now. But we can still help you. So please check out the website sign up for the list. And let’s get you feeling healthier than ever before. So by the time this pandemic is over, you are a whole new you.

Thank you very much for tuning into this episode. We are going to end our time together with a meditation but before we do, I would like to ask you to subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player so you’re notified every time there’s a new episode. You can find the links, show notes and more over at

Let’s start today’s meditation by finding your comfortable seat wherever that may be, whether you’re on the floor, on a chair or the couch, find whatever feels comfortable to you right now. Gently close your eyes.

Take a deep breath in through the nose and out through the mouth. Take another deep breath in. And imagine all the positive energy you’re breathing in today. And as you exhale, visualize all the negativity and stress leaving your body.

Take a couple more deep breaths in and out. Notice how your body starts to soften. When you exhale. Notice how your muscles in your back, feel a little less stressed and tense.

As you inhale, think about all of the happy, fun things that you love in your life. And as you exhale, think of all the negative things. You’re releasing them out into the world making room for happiness and joy.

Return to natural breath and try to release any thoughts that are coming into your mind. Stay focused on your breath. And as strange random thoughts pop into your head, acknowledge them and let them go.

Check in with your posture, make sure you’re sitting up nice and tall. And imagine there’s a thread on the top of your head, pulling you up to the little bit higher. Check in with your face. Make note of any stress and tension you’re feeling here. And as you exhale, relax your face. Then bring your awareness down to your neck. How is your neck feeling right now.

On your exhale, release your stress and tension in your neck. Then bring your awareness down to your shoulders. As you exhale, release the stress and tension in your shoulders. Then bring your awareness down your spine, stopping wherever you feel any stress and tension, any tightness. Concentrate on that spot. And on your exhale, release the stress and relax the muscles.

Bring your awareness down to your hips. Make note of any stress and tension you’re feeling here. And on your exhale, let it go

and bring your awareness down your thighs. On your exhale, release any stress in your thighs. Then bring your awareness down to your calves. See how your calves are feeling right now.

And on your exhale, release the stress and bring your awareness down to your feet. Give thanks to your feet for supporting you throughout the day. And on your exhale, release any stress intention they may be feeling.

Bring your awareness back to your breath.

Notice how the air feels when you inhale Notice the difference when you exhale.

Gradually start to take deeper and deeper breaths. Feeling your body expand as you inhale and soften as you exhale.

Bring your awareness to your eyes in your own time. Open your eyes, bring your awareness back into the room namaste.

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