It was such a beautiful day today. I was so happy to get a minute to myself, to sit and enjoy the sunshine. It allowed me time to think and reflect on the weeks events. But, suddenly it dawned on me that in just three months it will be Christmas! Then the panic set in. That feeling of being overwhelmed with a list of things to do, came rushing at me. My moment of peaceful bliss was over. Oh the joys of reflection.
With this year being a very strange and frightening one, no wonder our stress levels are at an all time high. It has been difficult to plan for anything and if you like to be organised and prepared like me, it could be very overwhelming. But how do you cope with stress in the middle of a pandemic? There is no one answer to this question. Even the mentally and emotionally strong amongst us will need support in times like these. The truth is, stress affects us all, whether we would like to admit it or not. It can have a huge impact on both our physical and mental wellbeing. The first step in dealing with stress is recognising that we have a problem.
When I found myself becoming overwhelmed and stressed, the following tips were helpful in keeping me relaxed.
1. Recognise the warning signs – feeling angry and tired can be signs of stress. This is a warning that we need to intervene before it becomes too overwhelming. Create a habit of making time for yourself, just to relax and make sense of it all.
2. Small changes – small changes to your daily routine can make a big impact. If you react to stress in a physical way, that creates tiredness and tension in the body, why not go to bed 30 minutes earlier, or take a warm bath. This is your body telling you it needs to unwind.
3. Exercise – it goes without saying that exercise is vital in boosting both mental and physical health. Just a brisk 15 -30 minutes walk a day can make such a difference in our lives. If you cannot get outdoors, then housework or gardening or even puzzles can give us a mental boost.
4. Avoid overthinking- ruminating on things we have no control over is a hinderance and does not help! A pandemic will bring out the most common human fears and we become victims of the thinking trap, which is where we predict a future state that is based on our biggest fears versus the facts of the situation. Instead, pay attention to the things we can control and surround yourself with positivity.
5. The human connection – stay in touch with loved ones, those near and far. That simple connection by text, FaceTime, Skype or social media can make such a difference and boost your mental health and can equally impact the lives of others.