With the UK now in its second national lockdown, however prepared we thought we might be and however well we coped through the Covid spring and summer, those familiar feelings of dread, anxiety and stress still lie close to the surface.
This second wave could easily exacerbate those feelings, no matter how controlled they have been and however well prepared we might seem.
Coping with anxiety and finding ways to relieve stress when it emerges will, for many, become even more important and necessary as winter approaches - a more challenging season for many of us even at the best of times. Combine this with the intense anticipation the nation is feeling as the prospect of a vaccine seems closer, which is causing anxiety and stress in itself.
So how do we find stress relief in these uncertain times and how can we reduce that overwhelming anxiety that, somehow takes hold of us?
Here are 10 tips to help if you’re dealing with anxiety or looking
for a little stress relief:
Acknowledge It - The First Steps To Dealing With Anxiety & Stress
“Stress and anxiety are a natural response to uncertain times, so be conscious of your triggers and responses”, says the Mental Health Foundation.
Remember one thing: we are not to blame – you are not weaker or the less prepared because you are dealing with anxiety or feeling stressed.
When we’re dealing with stress, we tend either to envelope ourselves in this feeling and continue our day in a negative mindset, or, if we are dealing with anxiety, we try to power through, pushing the anxiety into the back of our minds, hoping it will just pass. But next time you start getting these feelings, pause for a moment, and recognise them. Ask yourself, what am I feeling, and why? What is the main cause of this anxiety or stress?
Just acknowledging and pinpointing the cause or problem can actually help to relieve these pressures quicker than pushing them away. Even though it can be difficult or worrisome to confront a problem head on, keeping it logged in your thoughts only intensifies it, and what was initially just a small worry, can sometimes develop and exacerbate the feeling if left too long.
Once you have acknowledged why you are stressed or anxious, you can begin to tackle the problem at hand and how to deal with it best.
Keeping Active Helps To Reduce Stress & Anxiety!
Ever heard the saying ‘Sweat Out The Stress’ or ‘Worry Less, Run More’? It’s no surprise that keeping active can do wonders for our mental health.
Studies have shown that anything which raises the heart rate and gets us moving, naturally releases our endorphins - our brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters.
If you’re looking for something a little more chilled and home based? Yoga is perfect for meditation in motion, focussing on the moves can help to clear our mind and help us feel more balanced. We’ve certainly never heard anyone say a bad word about the effects of meditation and mindfulness - have you?
So the next time you’re looking for some stress relief from work or home life, or you feel that anxiety starting to creep in, pop on those trainers, or get a hold of your yoga mat and try to focus on something that is proven to help you feel happier and healthier all in one.
Routine Is Key For Coping With Stress & Anxiety
“When people don't have a routine or structure to their day it can cause increased stress and anxiety, as well as overwhelming feelings, lack of concentration, and focus” - Rachel Goldman, PHD in Clinical Psychology
Perhaps you don’t typically thrive on a strict schedule, but having a routine can be especially helpful in times of unpredictability and uncertainty. Having a daily routine can be extremely beneficial when dealing with stress and coping with anxiety. So don’t switch off that alarm clock just yet.
Even though you might not have to travel into work right now, sticking to the same morning routine and doing something to make yourself feel better before logging on will give your day more structure. Whether that’s a morning walk instead of the usual commute, listening to your favourite playlist or starting your day with positive affirmations, taking that time for yourself will help get your day
started the right way!
Put Pen To Paper And Set Yourself A Goal To Relieve Stress
We might think of notepads and pens as a school time essential, but keeping a diary or noting down important things or goals is extremely beneficial for the mind and can help us cope with stress and deal with anxiety in an advantageous way.
Sometimes it’s difficult to talk to people about our thoughts and worries, so why not clear the mind and release any potential negative thoughts by addressing them on paper. This can help to free your headspace, allowing
thoughts to be released from your mindset.
If once you’ve seen those thoughts on paper and the feeling is still present, begin to write down ways in which you can overcome it. Once those feelings begin to subside, tear up that paper and throw it away! Those thoughts aren’t necessary now you’ve dealt with them!
Goals are a great way to keep us focused and on track. Make sure you are detailed in what you want to achieve, give yourself a realistic time-frame in which to achieve it, and continue to update your notes with how you are getting on! You never know, a distracting doodle or thought on a notepad could be the beginnings of a masterpiece!
Eating Healthily Can Help To Reduce Stress & Anxiety
In the UK’s first lockdown, maintaining a healthy lifestyle became a struggle for some. Disrupted routines and coping with stress from new working habits was seen to affect how individuals and families ate. Alcohol consumption increased for many, and so did our lockdown waistlines. Working from home allowed us to reach for the biscuit tin much more easily than when based in the office. But did you know that sugary foods can weaken the body’s ability to respond to stress and actually make you feel more anxious and even depressed?
Overconsumption of sugar triggers imbalances in certain brain chemicals. These imbalances could lead to depression, and even though you may feel the high for a second when consuming that doughnut or cookie, sugar can
actually impair your cognitive function!
This doesn’t mean you have to deny yourself the pleasure of sweet-tasting foods though, BBC’s Food Nutritionist Priya Tew states: “Focus on what you can add to, rather than remove from, your diet...plan something like eating an extra portion of fruit every day so you’ve got something positive to aim for. If you don’t manage to do it, it’s not the end of the world.”
Plus there are plenty of yummy easy to make recipes online with low or no sugar in them! So instead of reaching for that ready-made meal, have some fun in the kitchen and make cooking colourful:
Be good to your stomach and good to your brain.
Stay Connected To Stay Happy - Relieve Stress & Anxiety
‘Laughter is the best medicine’ - and what better way to relieve stress and cope with anxiety than catching up with friends and loved ones.
If you are dealing with anxiety or looking for a little stress relief, talking to your friends about it can sometimes be the perfect remedy. You never know, they might be finding it a little tough too. So schedule in those much needed calls to the family, have the fun face-time quiz nights with your friends
and be sure to stay connected this lockdown.
Get A Good Nights Sleep To Relieve Stress & Anxiety
Excess worry, fear and stress can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. A bad night’s sleep can cause feelings of stress and anxiety to intensify in the morning leading us to feel groggy or restless, which over time can impact on our health.
By focussing on a sleeping schedule and program, we can help to regulate our sleep and get a better night’s rest, leading to a clearer, more positive mindset.
Try to get to bed the same time every evening, and stick to a zero phone or tv policy once you’re all snuggled up. If you’re struggling to switch off the mind, how about reading a book, or writing down all the positive things that have happened in your day. And make sure to sleep with the light off. Darkness promotes feelings of sleepiness - in fact, research shows that darkness boosts the production of melatonin, an essential hormone for sleep.
A Cleaner Home For A Clearer Head Space
“Clutter is likely to be linked with negative emotions - confusion, tension, irritability, worry, whereas a clean space is more likely to be linked with positive emotions - happiness, calm, a sense of wellbeing” - Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D.
Psychologist and Author
Spend some time making your home a place of tranquility - that’s not to say go out and buy a whole new bed set - instead, throw away what you know you don’t need, and tidy what you know you do. A decluttering of your home can lead to a declutter of the mind, and creating a calm environment can lead to a more positive mindset, helping to relieve stress and reduce anxiety.
Take A Deep Breath And Let Go Of Any Anxiety & Stress
Have you ever taken notice of your breath when you are calm or relaxed? Have you listened to how slow, deep and calm your breathing is when you wake up in the morning, or just before you fall asleep?
Did you know we have the ability to re-create this feeling, relaxing the body and mind in times of stress or anxiety just by doing some simple breathing exercises.
Belly Breathing is easy to do and extremely relaxing. Just sit or lie flat in a comfortable position. Rest one hand on your belly and another on your chest. Take a deep breath in through your nose and let your belly push your hand out, making sure to keep your chest still. Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling and feel the hand on your belly go in,
pushing your hand down as you breathe out.
Do this 3 - 10 times and take your time with each breath. Try this anytime, anywhere and notice how much calmer and more relaxed you feel, your mind is clearer and those feelings of stress and anxiety seem
less prominent than they were before.
If you would like to see more breathing exercises check out our Instagram page - where we are featuring 10 minute breathing and
meditation exercises over the next 4 weeks.
At Home Spa Day For Stress Relief
A perfect remedy for dealing with anxiety and reducing stress is to give yourself a spa day in the comfort of your own home! Whether it’s giving your skin some TLC with a face mask, giving yourself a manicure, or simply relaxing in a bathtub full of bubbles - make sure you take some time for you, so you
can feel beautiful inside and out.
We also have lots of natural remedies at Molecule that can help you to deal with feelings of stress and coping with anxiety. Why not have a call with a member of the Molecule team
and see if we can help?
Stay Safe. The Molecule Team.
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