With the impact of COVID still resonating within our daily lives, navigating our way – practically and psychologically – through to a post-pandemic way of living is not a linear process.
There will be days that feel wonderfully manageable and positive, and we should absolutely make hay while the sunny days shine on, but it is important to know that it’s also okay to acknowledge those stressful or tiresome days that can take their toll on our wellbeing. During Stress Awareness Month (April 2022), we recognise how stress is a significant factor in mental health problems including anxiety and depression. It is also linked to physical health problems like heart disease, immune system problems, insomnia and digestive issues.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of UK citizens admitted to feeling ‘overwhelmed or unable to cope’ at some point in the past year. Whilst indicative of a stressed nation, this statistic is unsurprising given the increased levels of personal, health and financial pressures (to name a few) that are now facing the average person in our communities.
Every person deals with worry and stress in different ways, but that does not mean that you are alone when you start to feel the strain.
We first need to understand the root causes of our personal stress and learn what steps we can take to reduce it for ourselves and those around us. It is important to look after your physical, mental and emotional health in order to reduce stress. Here are some helpful activities focused on these areas to help manage your stress levels:
|Take regular screen breaks and move around regularly.||Keep a thought journal – this will help you understand your triggers for stress and rationalise your thought processes.||Practice Mindfulness. Apps such as Calm and Headspace are great for beginners.|
|Consider your sleep pattern, and ensure you are getting a good night’s sleep.||Practice Yoga, there are lots of videos on Youtube. Yoga with Adrienne has varied videos, with yoga for all scenarios.||Ask for help if you need it – it’s ok to need support. Details can be found below of the support available to you.|
|Eat a healthy balanced diet and boost your immune system.||Start reading a new book or read one you gave up on.||Connect with people, check in with your support network regularly.|
|Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day.||With the gradual easing of government restrictions, plan something in the future to look forward to.||Limit the news you are watching/reading to prevent any additional stressors.|
|Digital detox – do something that doesn’t involve a screen to allow you to disconnect.||Learn something new, such as a new recipe. Learning a new skill can help to improve confidence.||Write down 3 positive experiences that have happened to you today.|
|Go for a walk: even if you don’t feel like it, the Vitamin D is good for your mood and immunity.||Take time out to do something you enjoy.||It’s really important to find that time for connection; to yourself, to others, to the things around you, to nature.|
|Clean and organise your space: starting with what you can actually control (what’s immediately in front of you) and then gradually increase your sphere of influence.||Create a daily routine schedule to help you stick to your routine. Westfield Health has put together this template.||Be kind to yourself and others.|
Please remember to continue to investigate and understand what is causing your individual stress and practice good self-care not just this month, but in the future too so you can truly belong, contribute and thrive in all aspects of your life.