Let’s be honest, modern life was stressful enough without a global pandemic coming our way and disrupting pretty much every aspect of our day-to-day lives. Not only is there a degree of uncertainty to the future that none of us have experienced before, but COVID-19 has also forced many of us to self-isolate which, for many people, brings on its own feelings of stress and anxiety.
What’s important to realize is the way to deal with stress or anxiety disorders isn’t about ignoring them, but instead taking active steps to manage them. So, let’s look at some of the things you can do to dissipate the waves of anxiety, ride out the storm of COVID-19, and sail into calmer waters.
Nine Stress Management Tips and Techniques
Stress can do a lot to fill your head with feelings of disorder and chaos, making it impossible to feel like yourself or be able to relax. Meditation encourages a deep state of internal serenity and mental relaxation, making it a great way to clear the mind.
2. Create a Routine
Stuck at home for days and weeks on end might mean your daily schedule begins to fall apart, and soon enough the hours all blur together. Couple this with the continued demands of work or family, and you’ll soon feel like unpredictability and disruption are running rampant.
Instead, set down a daily schedule for the week ahead. This will give you a sense of order over your-day-to-day and have you feeling like you’re back in the driving seat.
3. Learn to say “No”
Now that most of us are working remotely, our inbox has probably never been busier. If you’re not careful, emails can start to pile up, and before you know it, you’re inundated with work requests and client enquiries.
Being overworked can make you feel like your life is spiraling away, so be more assertive and start getting back your time and mental wellbeing: say no, so that you can say yes to the things that matter to you.
4. Daily Affirmations
Daily affirmations are cheesy yes, but they do really work (and it doesn’t take much to try). Choose an affirmation that speaks to you and repeat daily to realign your subconscious from a negative outlook to a positive one. Here are a few to get you going:
~ My mind and body are relaxed and calm ~
~ I am peaceful and centered ~
5. Eating well
It might be tempting when trapped at home to turn to comfort foods, but before you shovel that pop-tart into your mouth, don’t forget “you are what you eat”. Eating well has such a positive impact on mental wellness, so try to introduce nutrients into your diet that help lower stress levels:
- Vitamin C lowers the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone)
- Complex Carbohydrates increase the production of serotonin, the “happy” chemical
- Magnesium helps reduce headaches and fatigue whilst improving sleep
- Omega-3 decreases stress hormones and can protect against depression
Try eating more of the following: oranges and fruits (Vitamin C), whole grains and fibers (complex carbohydrates), soybeans, salmon and leafy greens (magnesium) and nuts and seeds (omega-3 fatty acids).
For many of us the motivation to exercise might be at an all-time low, especially when the gyms and our usual fitness classes are not operating. However, physical activity it an excellent tool in the fight against stress.
Research shows that exercise reduces the body’s levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, whilst encouraging endorphin-production (the chemicals that elevate your mood). Going for a run is a great way to dissipate stress & anxiety (and keep those lockdown love-handles at bay).
With no commute in the morning for most of us, it’s mighty tempting to stay up late and binge-watch your night away until the early hours. However, sleep is imperative when it comes to maintaining a healthy headspace.
Levels of hormones such as cortisol fall at night, leaving you with lower blood pressure and reduced levels of stress, so set a strict bedtime, keep it consistent and get some valuable shuteye.
8. Talk it out
They say a problem shared is a problem halved, and that’s just on the basis of talking to one person – imagine if it was a dozen! But seriously, now more than ever is the best time to reach out to your network of friends and family, which can ease your troubles and even help you see things in a more positive light. Spending a moderate amount of time on Zoom or Facetime will help us relax, laugh, and ultimately reduce stress & anxiety.
9. Choose a Stress-Busting Activity
It’s amazing how much we can all forget this, but make time for yourself, and do something you enjoy. It’s the most natural stress-reliever, and a no-nonsense way to get you to your happy place.
When stress is building, take a timeout, and even if it’s only for 10 minutes, working on that scrapbook you always wanted to or baking that carrot cake will help bring you back to more peaceful climes.
Amongst all these Covid-19 tips, it’s also important to identify your sources of stress – if it’s work, then try to address it with your manager, if it’s family-related then talk with your partner. Steps towards prevention are always better than cure.
Stress is real, and it’s okay to admit to it, so don’t feel like you have to pretend it’s not there – in fact do the opposite and tackle it head-on. Taking the first step to that healthy lifestyle will always be the hardest, but things will only get better from there.