How to reduce stress during a pandemic

It’s fair to say that, for most people, 2020 has been memorable for all the wrong reasons. The Covid-19 pandemic has upended virtually all instances of life, and to say that it was a challenging year would be an understatement. While the Christmas holidays are usually a happy and positive time, we have seen a lot of additional stress due to the circumstances... and 2021 is not looking great, judging on the past few weeks


There are, after all, plenty of reasons why the upcoming months may be hard for a lot of people. It could be because of the economic impact of the pandemic, which means people have less money to spend. It could be because they’re not able to see their family, due to the coronavirus rules, or because they’ve lost someone to the illness in recent months. Or it could simply be that the mental health impacts of the pandemic have taken their toll and people are at their wit’s end.


However, while these are difficult times, it’s important to remember that there are always things we can do to improve mental wellbeing, especially around the winter period. In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the most effective ways to reduce stress during the pandemic


Eating healthily


You are what you eat. After all, food is the fuel that gives your body the energy it needs to go about its business; if you’re feeding it good stuff, then you’ll find it much easier to do everything related to your body, including managing stress. A balanced diet helps because it helps to regulate your blood sugar levels, which can cause feelings of stress if they’re not managed properly. Plus, there’s also some evidence that simply the act of chewing (let’s say on gum) relaxes us too.


Plenty of Sleep


If you want to be calm and relaxed, then it’s important that you’re giving your body what it needs, including sleep. You probably know from personal experience just how easier it is to navigate the ups and downs of life when you’ve got a solid night’s sleep under your belt. Your body will feel less stressed after a good 8 hours of sleep, and you’ll find that you’re in better control or your mood and decision-making, so make sure you’re getting enough during the holiday period.


Make Time For Yourself Every Day


Happiness is about being with the people that we love. However, it’s important to remember that you can’t give yourself over entirely to your loved ones. Do your best to carve out some time each day where the focus is on you, not on your family and friends. It’ll help to retain your sense of self, and will also give you a break from the group dynamic. You can love your family without feeling guilty if you need to take an hour or two just to do your own thing -- they will understand.


Exercise


The weather might be a little chilly, sure, but it’s a good idea to strap on those jogging shoes and work up a sweat. There are many, many advantages to exercise, but one of the most underrated aspects is that it helps to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Think of your stress like a little ball of energy that’s sitting in your stomach; running is the activity that helps to expel that energy. Running can also help to release endorphins in your body, which will further boost your mood. You might not always feel like running when there are so many good movies on television, but you’ll feel better once you’ve finished -- it will have been worth it.


Phone Calls And Zoom Chats with Loved Ones


There’s hope that the coronavirus pandemic will be over relatively soon, but it’s unlikely to be over any time soon, and unfortunately, that means that it may not be possible for families and friends to get together . However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t share moments together. You absolutely can! Daily phone calls and evening group Zoom video calls will help to create a sense of togetherness. One recommended option is to host a pub quiz with drinks; you’ll have a great time. You can even watch movies online together -- it’s not the same as being in the same room, but it’s better than nothing.


Limit Phone Screen and Social Media Time


Technology has done a lot of good for the world, it’s true, but there are downsides -- for starters, it’s not very relaxing. The light and sounds of your screen can keep your mind in a constant state of alertness, and that’s far from relaxing. As such, it’s recommended that you limit the amount of time you spend staring at a screen. This will be especially important if you’re continually using social media websites like Instagram. They’re good in small doses, but studies have shown that extended use can result in spikes of stress and unhappiness. You can reduce the time you spend on it by just staying conscious about your tech use, rather than doing things absent-mindedly. If you’re looking for something to occupy your time, you can always try picking up a book. It’ll take ten minutes to get into the rhythm, but once you’re there, you’ll find that you’re much more relaxed.


Take Up Gardening


Studies have shown that being outside for even a couple of hours each week can reduce feelings of depression and anxiety. While around the holidays you may not have opportunities to go deep into nature, you could look at going into your garden and engaging in a spot of gardening. There are things you can do all year round, but even if you’re not going to get everything set up, just having your hands in the dirt will give you something.


Incorporate all these tips into your routine, and you’ll be well on your way to feeling at your best. If you’re still struggling, then be sure to get in touch with an organisation such as Mind.



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