Stress Awareness Month April 2020
According to the Mental Health Foundation; 74% of adults have felt stress at some point over the last year to the extent that they have felt unable to cope.
Due to the COVID-19 situation, is likely we will see more people suffer the effects of stress on their mental well being. The restrictions placed on us all to reduce the spread of the virus and to protect the NHS will undoubtedly trigger stress reactions in those maybe previously had resistance and coping strategies to protect their well being.
As a nation, we are experiencing added pressures such as home schooling our children, caring for the vulnerable and surviving of a reduced income. In addition our normal coping methods such as getting out and about, meeting and talking with friends and family and seeking medical advice has been restricted.
So what can we do to help our stress levels and our overall mental well being but keep within the restrictions of social distancing to help beat COVID-19 and protect our NHS?
This is still possible. Your locations may be restricted and you will need to get creative, whilst you won’t be able to attend a gym class or have a face to face there are a lot of online classes and your local gym may be putting some on. You can get out for a daily walk/run to get some fresh air and to help clear your mind. You could even practice some mindfulness whilst you are out, appreciating the nature and things around you.
Being at home all the time can mean that our normal schedules of doing things go out the window. Stick to normal waking time and bedtime, meals times, starting and finishing work (if working from home); this will help keep some structure to your day and help you see what you have achieved each day.
Take some time each day in a quiet spot in the house (if possible) or do it just before you go to sleep to reflect on the day, it may even help to write down your thoughts and document this time.
Keep in touch
There has been a huge increase in the use of video calls and these are a great way to keep in touch with friends and family, holding social events virtually and just to be able to see a friendly face. Also if you are feeling stressed reach out to a friend or family member and tell them how you are feeling.
Eating and Drinking
It is important to eat a balanced diet and to keep hydrated. This can be hindered by the current times of social distancing and staying at home as there is the tendency to snack or go overboard with the home baking! But you may find you have more time to plan and prepare meals, by planning your food shop more you can think ahead to the week and get organised with meals and snacks for everyone in your house. Feeling organised in this way will help you feel calmer and in control. Drinking plenty of water to keep you hydrated will also help, whilst reaching for the wine at the end of the day may help you relax, moderate it and re-hydrate yourself with water too.
Working from home (link to separate blog)
Many of us are getting used to working from home and this may cause some stress as we try to cope with the day job demands as well as keeping the home tidy, children fed/entertained and in a routine. We have written a separate blog on how to make working from home a positive experience.
Share your thoughts and coping mechanisms with others
Social media has become the go to place for advice and whilst you should select carefully the accounts you follow and the information you take notice of, sharing your experiences (positive and negative) and any tips you have to keep your stress and/or anxiety at bay with friends and family will help others and help you. But more importantly if you are struggling; ask for help either from family/friends or there are support lines available (Samaritans, Mind, NHS).
These are unprecedented times and we need to look after our mental well being as well as look about for the health of others.