2020 was a year like no other, and many of us will have been stressed about the situation, stressed about work, finance, home schooling, loved ones, our health the list goes on. With restrictions slowly starting to ease, it’s the right time to stop and think about doing something about our stress levels, and now, especially during Stress Awareness month there has never been a better time. So where do you start?
The first step to feeling better is to try and identify what is causing you stress, there may well be a list, and that’s ok, as you can still make changes – even small changes can deliver big results.
- Move More – Being active helps clear your mind and will help reduce the intensity of your emotions, we know that being active helps release serotonin, the feel-good hormone. And remember you don’t have to run a marathon, just move about a bit more, it could be a walk or a kitchen disco, you choose what suits you – we are looking for smiles, not miles.
- Take Control – when you feel you can’t do anything, is when stress levels get worse. Write down what is bothering you, just the simple act of making a list makes any issues more manageable. Then once you have the list you can identify what solutions and options you have, these may include getting external help. If it’s a finance issue, you could talk to the Citizens Advice Bureau. ‘A problem shared’ really can make a huge difference.
- Re-connect with other people – friends, family and even your work colleagues may offer you a different perspective and help you see things in a different way. Laughter is a brilliant stress buster, so now we can meet in person again, catch up and share your funny lockdown stories.
- Have some ‘me time’ – treat yourself to just a few hours doing whatever makes you happy, a long soak in the bath, reading, playing your favourite video game. I highly recommend putting on your favourite tunes and throwing yourself a kitchen disco, and then dance like no one can see you, you will be amazed how energising it can be.
- Challenge yourself – set yourself some goals, whether at work or personally, it could be anything, bake a cake, learn to say hello in 10 new languages – Kon’nichiwa, by the way. All will help build your confidence, which in turn helps you deal with stress.
- Avoid unhealthy habits – Review your situation to see if you are using unhealthy activities, such as smoking or drinking to help you cope. What started out as an occasional beer or glass of wine after a hard day, may now be every day. Try cutting down the alcohol you are consuming, or switch to non-alcoholic, sugar free alternative. If you are a smoker, get help to quit, you are 4 times more likely to stop for good if you get help. You will feel better physically, and you will save a few pounds to spend on something you enjoy.
- Help someone else – This doesn’t have to be on a large scale, although regular volunteering or community work helps you meet new people, support people who may be less fortunate than you and does make you feel good about yourself. It could be on a small scale, try doing a favour for someone else every day. If you are in work, it could be making your colleagues a cuppa. The more you give, the more resilient and happier you will feel.
- Try to be positive – Try to be glass half full instead of glass half empty, we all have things we are grateful for, family, friends, that much coveted signed football shirt. At the end of every day, say aloud or write down the things for which you’re grateful.
Managing your stress is about building your emotional strength, taking control of your situation, having a good social network, and adopting a positive outlook.