Stress doesn’t isolate during a pandemic

The temperature is dropping, the nights are drawing darker and winter is on its way. The clocks going back at least gives us an extra hour in bed, yet many just want this year to be over.

“Almost one in five adults were likely to be experiencing some form of depression during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in June 2020” just one of many distressing facts from the Office for National Statistics regarding mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The statistics go on to highlight that “Feeling stressed or anxious was the most common way adults experiencing some form of depression felt their well-being was being affected.”

Stress is common place in life, whether it’s small doses motivating you to reach your goals, or it’s become overwhelming and potentially harmful to your wellbeing.

In any normal year dealing with stress can be, well… stressful. It speaks volumes that there is a week dedicated to helping us handle stress.  2020, however, is no normal year.  This is a year where we made the home our office, acted as substitute teachers to our children and had to endure seeing our loved ones through windows and screens. 

How are we meant to cope with stress during a time when each day is more unpredictable than the last?  Take a look at my tips to help you keep on top of stress during the pandemic:

Keep active

Exercise can be a great way of not only keeping your body active, but also your mind.

That doesn’t mean you need to spend hours in the gym or running marathons, but your mind will also benefit if you can set aside some time every day for some form of physical activity. 

A high octane workout not your thing? Maybe some yoga, meditation or simply a walk – all of these can help relieve stress.

Sing

Hear me out on this one (not literally as singing isn’t my forte) – singing, or listening to music has been known to greatly relieve stress.

Think of all the times you’ve had a song stuck in your head, it’s pretty difficult to think of anything else!

Even if it’s only for a couple of minutes a day, relax, pop some music on and maybe even have a singalong.  Can anyone really stay stressed singing along with the Backstreet Boys?

Take a break

The boundary between your work and home life is probably a bit blurred at the moment, so it’s important to make sure work doesn’t take over. Take the same breaks from work as you would if you were in the office.

Just five minutes away from your desk to stretch your legs and step outside can work wonders.

Connect with people

Keeping in touch with the people we love is important for our mental wellbeing. With lockdown, self-isolating and many other new rules put in place, it only seems fitting that the most streamed song of 2020 starts with the lyrics “I been on my own for long enough” as I’m sure that’s how many of us are feeling. 

While we can’t all meet face to face, we have many other ways of keeping in touch right at our fingertips – pick up the phone, send a quick text or maybe even go live on webcam.  We don’t need to feel alone and keeping in touch regularly with friends, family and colleagues can help ease feeling of isolation and loneliness. 

Who knows, you could even make ‘webcam Wednesday’ a thing!

Challenge yourself

Are you up for a challenge? Maybe there’s something you’ve always wanted to do but have never got around to, like learning a new language, an instrument or maybe finally putting together that 40,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. 

Taking up a new challenge can help you focus on something else. I personally completed my first half marathon in lockdown and even though the race was virtual, my sense of achievement was not.

Look after yourself

At times like these, it can be easy to take up a few unhealthy habits.  Excessive drinking or smoking might provide temporary relief but they will only enhance your stress levels in the long run.

Try to maintain a healthy, balanced diet, make sure you drink enough water and get plenty of sleep. 

Talk about it

Pandemics aren’t something we’re used to dealing with, so it’s normal to feel stressed.

Talking to others about how you feel can be beneficial for you and maybe them as well. Whether it’s a friend, work colleague, family member or a professional, having someone to talk to can help you to feel less stressed about it all.

You can find information on the NHS website if you feel you need some extra support.

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