Managing your mental health can be challenging even at the best of times but with most of the world in self isolation due to Covid19, it is now more difficult than ever. We believe mental health awareness week couldn’t have come at a better time. Not many have lived through a pandemic before and it's only natural to feel an increased level of anxiety and stress. Things are changing rapidly and emotions easily become overwhelming.
Stress is just our body’s way of telling us to stay alert. This goes back to our ancestry days where we would have physical danger which would then trigger our fight or flight response. Our bodies and minds are designed with tools to cope and adapt to any situation. The difficulty comes in how to use this energy in a positive form. Good stress management skills include building emotional strength, being in control of your situation, having a good social network and adopting a positive outlook.
Here at FLY we genuinely do care about your wellbeing and we have put together 10 tips to help deal with stress and anxiety.
1) Active Exercise. As well as improving your general health and lowering your chances of developing illnesses, exercise releases chemicals called endorphins which interact with the brain to trigger a positive feeling in the body. Even just going out for a daily brisk stroll can help, but for most adults, 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of high intensity each week is sufficient. Moderate intensity includes riding a bike, fast-paced walking and dancing. High intensity includes jogging, swimming and aerobics.
2) Take control. Sometimes the solution to a problem is not obvious and it can be easier to store the issue in the back of your mind so you don’t have to deal with it. This just leads to problems building up and becoming harder to deal with. That feeling of loss of control is one of the main causes of stress and lack of wellbeing. Try to keep on top of things and the act of taking control is in itself empowering. Accept the things you can not change and focus on the things you can control to help reduce your stress.
3) Talk. A problem shared is a problem halved. Turn to the people around you when you most need them. Talking things through with a friend or loved one will also help you find solutions to your problems. If you have no one to talk to or would prefer to speak to somebody anonymous, you can call Samaritans on 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org (response time 24hrs).
4)Take time out. Strike the balance between responsibility to others and responsibility to yourself. Tell yourself that it is okay to prioritise self-care. We all need to take some time out from our busy lives to just unwind, relax and switch off.
5) Challenge yourself. Setting yourself goals and challenges, whether at work or outside, such as learning a new language or a new sport can help to build confidence. Practice viewing your stress as a challenge and have confidence that you can overcome that challenge. By continuing to learn, you become more emotionally resilient as a person. It arms you with knowledge, and knowledge is the key to any success.
6) Eat healthy. You are what you eat as the saying goes. Research has shown what we eat affects our mood, and how simply eating healthily can improve this. You can protect your feelings of wellbeing by ensuring that your diet provides adequate amounts of brain nutrients such as essential vitamins and minerals, as well as water. Don’t rely on alcohol, smoking and caffeine as your ways of coping and limit your intake of refined sugars(e.g chocolate and soft drinks) and heavily processed foods(e.g ready meals).
7) Sleep. A good nights sleep will help set you up to face whatever the day might throw at you. Lack of sleep or poor quality of sleep increases your stress levels and it can become a vicious cycle as stress stops you from sleeping. Switch off from digital devices an hour or two before bed. Avoid naps in the afternoon or limit them to no more than 30 minutes and try to stick to a sleeping schedule.
8) Breathe and Mindfulness. Don’t forget to breath! Deep breathing and mindfulness, activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which releases hormones to relax the mind and body. Stop and take a few slow deep breaths when you start to feel yourself getting tense or agitated. Follow and concentrate on your breathing and let it ease your mind.
9) Don’t be too hard on yourself. Try to keep things in perspective.Remember that having a bad day is a universal human experience. If you stumble or feel you have failed, don’t beat yourself up about it. Act as if you were your own best friend: be kind and supportive. Take a few minutes each day to appreciate yourself and the journey you have already come on, and remember there are no flowers without rain.
10) Positive thoughts. Look for the positives in life, and things for which you're grateful for. It's easy to think about what we want or don’t have, but we tend to forget and not appreciate what we already have. Try to be a glass half full type of person instead of a glass half empty.
So in all, remember it's normal to feel down, worried, sad and stressed. If you feel like you are having these thoughts a lot then speak to your GP. Remember you are not alone in this and everyone has these feelings in life.
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/reduce-stress/ https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/click-here-happiness/ 201712/6-ways-beat-stress https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-manage-and-reduce- stress