Stress is a feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope as a result of situations or events that put pressure on us. Times where we have lots to do and think about, experiencing something new or unexpected, or feeling a lack of control. In these strange & testing times our stress levels and resilience is more than likely to have changed, most likely not for the better.
The usual common causes of stress – problems at work, financial worries, loss of a loved one, health concerns, getting married, moving house have been further increased by the current worries about Covid-19 with additional worries such as whether you are to be paid/have a job, being stuck indoors, home schooling the kids, not seeing family/friends, can’t get an online food shop, etc, etc, etc.
All of this will add to and increase your stress. Each individual copes differently to stress and we all have varied levels of management and mechanisms to cope. Key signs of stress are:
- Not sleeping properly;
- Change in breathing patterns, heart rate, blood pressure;
- Sweating, and
- tiredness amongst others.
Individually we have different ways to manage and cope with our stresses and these may have been restricted in doing these of late, i.e. going to the gym. But in these changed times it is important, more than ever, to take time to manage your stress, relieve the tension and help prevent further more impacting mental illness from developing.
Key tools to help manage this are:
- Get Active – in times of social distancing we can’t swim, hit the gym, play football etc, but we don’t have to suddenly turn into long distance runners either. A brisk, socially safe walk works as well as running and helps to get the heart working reducing stress levels. There are plenty of TV/online indoor workouts to be tapped into, go for a bike ride, walk the dog that bit further than usual. But please do this in conjunction with the key government guidelines.
- Talk to People – pick up the phone (landline/mobile) and chat to someone, family, friend, colleague or neighbour. Just touching in with your network can really help you de-stress without the need to share any stresses that are impacting you. But don’t be afraid to share your stress with someone you trust, people aren’t mind readers so sharing your stress will allow family, friends to know that you may be struggling. And GUYS, talk and share, bottling up problems/worries isn’t good normally but will be more impactful in these times. Additionally, picking up the phone and talking to someone could help to alleviate their stresses too.
- Take time out for yourself – working from home shouldn’t mean doing more than you are required or expected. Manage your deadlines and meetings and ensure that you have time for you and your immediate family too. If you have kids and partner at home now in each others pockets 24/7, ensure that all get some time out for them. Be that a long bath, reading a book, time to talk to someone on the phone, their daily 1 hour exercise, cooking, gardening etc. While these activities can be inclusive, which is very encouraged, these can be useful to de-stress yourself in readiness to tackle the daily stresses we may well encounter.
- Avoid Bad Habits – in these strange times it can be all too easy to take up those bad coping strategies like drinking more, smoking more, not exercising, an extra cup of coffee. These are easy go to options but if you get the urge to go that cold beer in the fridge earlier than usual, try and focus on something more positive for you mind and body, make that phone call, do that exercise, play with the kids, walk the dog. Not easy however balance is key here.
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