Updated: May 5
Life is so stressful right now. No matter what your circumstances, your daily life will have changed hugely in just a couple of weeks. Depending on where you live, schools have closed indefinitely, businesses closed, jobs lost. You might be working from home, with or without kids who are now studying at home. You might have lost your job and have additional financial stresses.
Whatever your circumstances we have very little control of what we are allowed to do and absolutely no idea of when this will end and what will happen then.
All of this is extremely stressful!
When under stress, your adrenal glands make and release the hormone cortisol into your bloodstream. Cortisol is often called the “stress hormone,” and it causes an increase in your heart rate and blood pressure. This is the natural “flight or fight” response that has kept humans alive for thousands of years.
But when your body is under constant stress it will constantly pump out cortisol and other stress hormones. This puts you at risk of many health problems
That’s why it is now more important than ever that we all manage our stress levels as much as we can.
1. Focus on now/ be in the moment
At a time when rules/restrictions change almost daily, the only place to be is in the moment.
I came across this anonymous quote today, which aptly sums up our current situation
"In order to get from what was to what will be, you must go through what is"
So now is a good time to practice mindfulness or meditation. Meditation has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety. Meditation doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult. Just start by sitting quietly for 5 minutes noticing your breath move in and out of your body. There are many mindfulness and meditation apps and courses available.
Another really quick and easy strategy to reduce stress is to something called ‘box breathing’. You breath in deeply to the count of 5, hold the breath in for a count of 5, breath out for a count of 5, hold the breath out for a count of 5. Repeat this 5 times. It really does work in making you feel calm and relaxed in less than 2 minutes. Stop reading and try it now for yourself……………….
2. Establish and stick to a routine
When everything else is constantly changing and out of your control establishing and maintaining a new (temporary) routine is something you can control. A routine will give you a structure to your day and a sense of purpose. So simple things like getting up and going to bed at the same time every day. Have a morning routine, regular meal times Having a routine is especially important if you have children at home to give them a sense of security.
3. Get enough sleep
Sleep plays a vital role in our ability to cope with stress. We all know that if we don’t get enough sleep, we have difficulty focusing and processing complex thoughts. Sleep also helps us balance our emotions and make healthy choices regarding nutrition and exercise. We all need at least 7 hours sleep a night, some of us more. Do you wake up feeling refreshed in the morning or tired and sluggish? Are you getting enough sleep?
If you have problems falling asleep or staying asleep, check out strategy #9 for something that may help.
Find a way to do some form of exercise every day. Your gym has probably closed so if you can go outside, go for a walk in nature. If not, there are heaps of exercise videos on you Tube – bootcamps, yoga, Tai Chi. Perhaps you were attending a yoga studio which is now closed. If they have gone online try to support them so that they can stay afloat at this time.
5. Eat a healthy diet
It is very easy in times of stress to reach for sugar or other comfort food and lapse into an unhealthy eating pattern. We need a strong immune system to cope with what life is throwing at us, so it is more important than ever to eat a well-balanced healthy diet. It is certainly true that what we eat affects how we feel.
You know the old saying ‘Garbage in, garbage out’.
Staying hydrated by drinking lots of water will also help our body function optimally.
6. Seize the opportunity
If you find yourself with a lot more free time than usual, change your perspective and see this as an opportunity. An opportunity to learn something new or do something you don’t usually have time for. Start writing that book, or if that is too daunting how about keeping a journal?
Learn a language, finish the painting or craft project you started 5 years ago, improve your computer skills. There are hundreds of online courses on every subject imaginable, do a search on Udemy.com or teachable.com and see what you can find.
If you want something more active get those jobs done around the house that you have been putting off. Get to work in your garden and grow some veggies or do that project with your house you have been thinking about or decluttering.
7. Stay connected
Social connection is an important part of mental wellness. One of the strategies for dealing with stress is to talk to someone about it. That is being challenged right now as we are forced to isolate ourselves or apply ‘social distancing’.
We are perhaps lucky that in today’s world we have ways to stay connected virtually through platforms such as Messenger, Zoom, Skype etc. Use one of these ways to stay connected virtually until you are able to meet in person again.
8. Limit your access to news
Yes, you do need to keep up to date with government announcements and what is going on in the world, but you don’t need to listen to it 24/7 or constantly follow it on social media. Just once a day from a reliable source should be sufficient. I have to find a way to turn off the annoying notifications that keep popping up on my computer screen with news updates.
9. Use Essential Oils
Essential oils have long been used as an aid to relaxation. Lavender is a well-known example but there are many others. Cedarwood, Marjoram, Roman Chamomile and Sandalwood are all calming, relaxing oils that can be blended or used individually.
When used in a diffuser at night essential oils are a great way to help us get to sleep or stay asleep if we wake up a lot.
10. Have some fun and laughter
You know the saying ‘laughter is the best medicine’ It is true! Laughter releases feel good hormones that help balance your emotions and make you feel better.
Do something that is fun that will make you laugh or watch a funny movie. Have you heard of Laughter Yoga? That’s a great way to have a laugh – google it, if you are interested.
If you are feeling stressed, anxious, depressed, confused, angry just remember you are not alone. We are all feeling some (or all) of these emotions. As we keep getting told, ‘we are all in this together’. If you would like to reach out for some support, you can book a complimentary call here.
Finally, if you didn’t do so, go back to #1 and do a round of box breathing. Tell us in the comments how it worked for you.
Stay safe and take care everyone