A wide ranging UK study into the health impact of the coronavirus pandemic released last month and covered in the Guardian found that ‘’in the early stages of lockdown 57% of those who took part reported symptoms of anxiety, with 64% recording common signs of depression’’.
With restrictions set to tighten once again, and with the darker, cold months incoming, there’s concern amongst medical professionals that the nation’s collective mood is only set to get worse.
With help a little harder to come by recently, due to cuts and closures, Brits have been turning to domestic methods for stress reduction. For a Winter of relative wellness, here are 5 tips for keeping calm in stressful times.
TAKE A MOMENT TO PROCESS & TALK
Working from home, with a laptop on in front of you and a TV on behind, always updating and demanding your attention, bearing bad news upon bad of the most recent developments….well, it can be really tough to take a moment to comprehend what’s going on. Though it may sound counterintuitive, sitting down and facing up to your feelings and the situation is a healthier, more holistic way to approach this tough time, we think.
Don’t let anxiety, stress and uncertainty bubble beneath the surface, ready to explode at any moment. Such feelings are generally unconscious, but if ignored, may worsen into bigger issues.
Instead, try to take proactive steps to take stock of the turbulent situation we find ourselves in. A regular practice of mindful meditation can help you do just that; only ten minutes a day can do wonders for realigning your perspective. If you’re new to the wonderful world of ‘taking a moment’, there are plenty of apps offering guided meditations and mindfulness exercises for a monthly fee. If meditation doesn’t work for you, do still make the time just to sit still for a few minutes each day, enabling space for reflection on what is, for everyone, a really confusing time.
To practice processing this confusing time further, try to remain open, frank and honest with those around you about how you’re feeling. A problem shared is a problem halved and all that, and you may just find others are experiencing similar feelings as you, and have advice to share through learned experience. Should you feel more comfortable sharing your feelings with a professional, then websites such as https://www.betterhelp.com offer online, one-to-one therapy tailored to your individual needs.
HOME GYM HAVEN
When the sun is shining and the temperature mild, exercise is easy, whether that’s taking yourself for a run, embarking on a long stroll or getting down the gym in one, dry piece. Peering out the window now, imagining the rays of summer sunshine feels like another world ago. Yep, Autumn can bring about a very different approach to exercise, when the temptation of the sofa is often too strong to get you in your gym kit and out the door. With further restrictions and potential lockdowns providing a convenient excuse to take it easy, exercise in the coming months could really suffer if you don’t put in the extra effort.
But during tough times, it’s especially important to remember just how hugely, immeasurably beneficial exercise is, for both the body and mind, with the NHS recommending 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week, to boost mood, health and wellbeing, as well as keeping a whole host of issues at bay.
Don’t allow the longer, darker nights and colder temperatures to herald a more sedentary life until Spring rolls around. Even if you’re not keen on returning to the gym, or if yours hasn’t yet opened again, you can still get the blood pumping at home with some cardio and aerobic exercise, such as star jumps or running on the spot. It’s basic, we know, but these are unprecedented times. You may have heard.
Of course, a healthy, balanced diet comes first, and is the most sustainable way to get all of the nutrition you need. That said, some choice supplements can help things to tick along nicely, too.
Since we’ll all be staying in more, it might be tough to get enough that all important Vitamin D from the sun. Fortunately, there are various Vitamin D supplements out there, and as such, it might be sensible to stock up for Autumn. Experts also advise taking a multi vitamin daily, one which contains Vitamin C as a priority, as well as zinc, to promote good metabolic function and strengthen the immune system.
Other supplements may soothe the stresses of a shift in the seasons. The amino acid L-Theanine can help reduce heart rate, inhibit the release of the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol and potentially, create a sense of relaxation approximately 30-40 minutes after ingestion. The good news is that it’s found in a cup of tea, but if you prefer, L-Theanine can also be bought in capsule form, for those crazy folk who don’t like tea.
Optimism can slip with the changing of the seasons, but in recent years experts have started recommending a new solution to help you put things in perspective; gratitude. Indeed, practicing gratitude is a great way to boost your emotional wellbeing, as it helps you appreciate the things you do have, rather than pining for unattainable, material items. Slowly but surely, your outlook changes, helping you take a more positive outlook on life.
Keeping a gratitude diary doesn’t have to involve writing down your hopes and dreams in essay form each night. Instead, most practitioners simply write down three things that they’re grateful for today, three things you enjoyed yesterday, or three things you’re looking forward to tomorrow, either just after waking up or just before bed, though of course, any time is fine. This is a wonderful way to gather your thoughts and learn to be thankful for what you’ve got.
When the mind is racing, full of thoughts and concerns which haven’t had a productive outlet all day, it can be hard to get a full, replenishing night’s sleep. But being properly rested is so crucial to tackling stress and anxiety; according to the American Institude of Stress, ‘’anxiety and insomnia are two very common problems that may hamper your ability to fall asleep…both conditions can play off each other, making the other worse’’. And they’d know, right? Yep, this thing can be cyclical; get on top of one and you’ll likely develop a better control of the other.
Therefore, a good night’s Zzzeds must always be at the top of your list of priorities when taking care of yourself. Check out our tips on how to get more restorative sleep for more!