Stress Awareness Day was earlier this month and Cheryl Lythgoe, matron at Benenden Health, shares some key tips for managing stress as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact our lives.
“Everyday life feels different right now, and that’s understandably causing a lot of people to feel more stressed. While higher levels of stress are not unexpected as we enter winter with the Covid-19 pandemic still ongoing, there are some things we can all do to relax and ease the pressure that we may feel at this time.
1. Be positive
It is easy to slip into negative thinking when you are stressed, and even small problems can cause anxiety. With an effort, though, you can train the mind to find the positive.
Try to be ‘glass half full’ instead of ‘half empty’ during this time. One way to do this could be writing a list at the end of each day of all that went well or was enjoyable and taking a moment to consider things for which you should be grateful that you may have forgotten. This is particularly powerful in times of national crisis as it reminds us all to focus on the things that are within our control.
2. Avoid information overload
In times of crisis, over-consumption of the news and social media can have a real detrimental effect on good mental health.
It’s important to stay connected, but controlling what and how much you consume while using devices will help to reduce stress and anxiety. Some tactics we suggest are only reading reputable news websites, consuming news just once a day, and editing your social media feeds so you are only following accounts that make you feel positive.
3. Have a cuppa
Studies have found that something as simple as having a cup of tea can lower your stress level. Aside from the comforting effects of a strong, hot brew, it has been found people who drank black tea four times a day for six weeks had less of the stress hormone cortisol in their bodies. They were able to de-stress twice as quickly as a control group given a placebo. This is a simple act we can all do in the current situation to help manage our stress.
4. Hit the sack
It has been found that stress is one of the most common causes of sleep disruption and it is normal to experience occasionally disrupted sleep while under pressure.
Disrupted sleep is particularly important right now when the lines between work and home are so blurred. It’s easy to check emails at night if you’re working from home full-time, but we strongly advise against it where possible. Work-life balance has never been more important, and taking time to switch-off will help when it comes to reducing stress.
5. Make time for you
Take some “you time”. Allocate one or two nights a week for activities you enjoy. Take up a new hobby, return to an old one, play online quizzes with your friends or have a regular indoor ‘date night’ with your partner. Make the most of this time and recognise you deserve and need time for yourself, no matter how different daily life feels at the moment.
6. Take a different view
Looking at stress positively and reframing your attitude to make it work for you is another way of managing it.
For example, treating threats like challenges, and looking to see if there is a long-term opportunity in something that initially feels stressful can be beneficial. Take any spare time in current circumstances to re-evaluate whether you are doing what you really want to do, and if there are any opportunities you would like to pursue.
I also suggest taking a long-term view by asking yourself whether what you’re upset about will matter in a month, a year or a decade. Gaining a long-term perspective is a productive way of dealing with short-term stresses.
7. Devote time to helping others
When you feel down, do some good. Donate to charity, offer to help a vulnerable neighbour with groceries or pop something in the food bank box the next time you’re in the supermarket. Helping people who are often in situations worse than yours will help you put your problems into perspective. The more you give, the happier and more resilient you may feel.
8. Enjoy the fresh air
That being active is good for us is hardly news. Keeping fit protects us against a whole raft of diseases, but did you know it also helps our mental wellbeing?
Something as simple as going out for a walk can help ease mild depression and minimise anxiety. Physical activity causes chemical changes in the body which help bolster positive feelings.
To look further into how to manage your mental wellbeing during the pandemic, Benenden Health has developed a dedicated online hub offering insight, tips and advice, which can be found at: https://www.benenden.co.uk/coronavirus.
Benenden Health offers high quality, private healthcare at the same affordable cost for everyone. This includes round the clock care such as 24/7 GP and mental health helplines, plus speedy access to services such as physiotherapy and medical treatment. As a not-for-profit organisation, Benenden Health’s focus is to offer support to its 800,000+ members at the same affordable cost of just £11.50 per person, per month.
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