Lockdown and mental health is a huge topic right now. As we approach the winter with lockdown starting in several countries, it is important to keep a tab on your stress levels. Stress can be exceptionally destructive. It affects our physical and mental health, our attitude towards the future, and causes demotivation. Avoiding stress is impossible – however, you should learn how to control and reduce it.
Below, we’ll have a look at 10 tips for managing and reducing stress. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you will have a clear stress management plan in your head and will be able to change your life for the better!
1. Seek support from others
Perhaps the most neglected tip for stress management is seeking support from others. It is easy to get consumed in your own thoughts and negativity, further sinking into the swamp that is stress. But, talking about your problems with someone close to you could make big changes in your life. Others might be able to provide a more objective insight into your issues and provide you with practical tips. Even if that is beyond their capabilities, pouring your emotions out may be very helpful by itself.
If you think professional help may be helpful, then you could address a mental health professional or a therapist. Professionals can give you practical guidelines for stress management, help you overcome addiction, manage chronic illnesses, and precisely diagnose your condition. Addressing a mental health professional is perhaps the best way of dealing with stress since you will be getting access to evidence-based and safe assistance. Although professional services can be expensive, they are amongst the most effective ways of reducing and managing stress.
If you need urgent support for mental health support, please see this NHS signposting
2. Learn relaxation techniques
Consciously experienced relaxation is associated with the ability to let go and to actively detach. Relaxation is a skill that often must be learned. During a state of relaxation our body and mind recover and regenerate. Relaxation and letting go is immensely important for recovery, creating long term memories and converting experiences into new skills. There are several types of relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga or slow breathing. Relaxation also helps deal with effects of continuous strain and fight or flight response.
Deep relaxation can be experienced in sleep, when resting or napping, when breathing slowly and deeply, when extending exhalation, when practicing relaxation exercises and in deep meditation. Resony app will help you to develop the skill of deep relaxation using the ‘Progressive Muscle Relaxation’ technique.
Use these techniques when putting together your plan with regards to lockdown and mental health.
3. Exercise regularly – another lockdown and mental health essential!
If you aren’t exercising regularly, then you should start doing so. Not only will exercise allow you to get into good physical shape, but will also help you reduce stress in 3 ways:
- When you exercise, your body produces hormones like endorphins, dopamine, and adrenaline. These hormones make you feel happy and confident. If you’ve ever had a good workout in a gym, then you are probably familiar with the sense of relief and satisfaction that comes after each session.
- Even if not possible during lockdown, exercise helps communicate and bond with other gym-goers. Socializing in the gym is quite easy because everyone there has at least one common interest for all – fitness!
- If you work out consistently, then you will see your body change for the better. This may provide a huge boost to your confidence.
With that, exercise is a powerful tool in stress management, and you should certainly make use of it.
4. Set limits and learn to say no
In many cases, people are stressed because you cannot set and maintain limits. In other words, if you cannot actively prevent stressful situations in your life, then you obviously will not be able to avoid stress. Be assertive, confident, and learn to say no to stressful situations. Your mental health is important, and you should avoid triggers to stress whenever possible. This is another important consideration when it comes to lockdown and mental health.
5. Avoid alcohol and drugs
Alcohol and drugs may provide temporary relief, but they are the worst thing you could resort to in order to manage stress. In the long term, these are going to destroy your body, throwing you into an even deeper pit of mental pain and misery.
Work out, sleep well, find time for your hobbies, hang out more with your friends, meditate – do everything you can to get distracted from the stress. No matter what you do, say a firm “no” to alcohol and drugs, and you will open up for better stress management opportunities.
6. Get enough rest and sleep
Inadequate rest and sleep perhaps don’t cause stress directly, but they certainly make matters worse. Don’t neglect the importance of sleep and make sure to have the nap time your body deserves every night.
Pursuing a career or academic heights at the expense of your sleep and rest might seem like a good idea at first, especially if you are getting returns for dedicating more time to your work. But in the long run, lack of rest is going to devastate your body. Needless to say, this will lead to impaired performance in your workplace, which might in turn lead to increased stress.
7. Take a break
Burnout is more common than ever. Today’s society pushes us to do more and become better every minute. And although you do need to progress in your life, you can only do so much without a break. Don’t overwork yourself and stop chasing impossible goals. If you can’t go on vacation right now, then manage your time better throughout the day to free up some opportunities for unwinding. Play some video games, watch movies, listen to music, or do anything else that you are passionate about.
We are not machines, and although we should not procrastinate and delay important matters, we sometimes need to take a break. If you are getting stressed because of the daily news, then it could be useful to limit your social media time and constant checking of news.
8. Accept that you can’t control everything
Life is about adapting to circumstances. There is no way you can control every small detail in your environment. In some people, this is going to lead to frustration and stress – this is extremely inefficient because getting stressed over something that you cannot control serves no purpose.
Try to do as much as you can to make changes in your life, but always remember that you cannot control everything.
9. Identify and eliminate stress triggers
In our day-to-day we come across several situations and events, which may trigger stress and evoke negative emotions. It is important to identify those triggers and understand how they make you feel and what you could do to minimize your exposure to those triggers. Identifying stress triggers isn’t always easy.
You can use journaling techniques to list negative events, how they make you feel and what activities you can do to improve the situation.
As you identify a simple activity you can do to make a difficult situation a little better you start to gain a sense of empowerment and control. One example of this technique is an exercise called Constructive worry, found in the Resony app. This technique not only helps with coping but also develops new skills, your active vocabulary will grow, and you will be able to identify your own and other people’s emotions more accurately, which is part of developing emotional intelligence.
10. Stay connected
Loneliness is a silent killer. it is important that you connect virtually.Even if you cannot see friends and family in person, Videocalls and messages on a regular basis help beat those lonely blues. For us human beings, connection with nature is as important as connection with our fellow humans. Spending quality time in nature, gardening, walking or observing nature seems to have a very beneficial effect on stress reduction. If you do not have access to nature due to the lockdown restrictions, you can try out the ‘Nature observation’ exercise in the Resony app. This is a mindfulness exercise which helps overcome a sense of isolation and loneliness, giving you a sense of profound connectedness with nature and our fellow human beings.
Hope you can use one or more tips in this article and keep your stress in control during the winter lockdown!