Stress Awareness Month 2020Posted on: 26/04/2021
The past year has been difficult for everyone; 2020 will be a year remembered for generations to come for all of its fear and uncertainty. As COVID-19 restrictions are slowly easing, more and more people are experiencing anxiety about re-entering the world and the ongoing uncertainty of life post lockdown.
With this in mind, we wanted to note that it’s international stress awareness week, a perfect time to reflect on current stresses and how to combat them.
How to tackle stress and anxiety
Exercise is well known for being a popular stress buster. Exercise increases your level of endorphins, these are your natural mood lifters which can help ease depression. Exercise helps by getting your sleep patterns back to normal.
- Breathe deeply
Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. This is because when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body.
- Reduce your caffeine intake
Caffeine affects your body in ways that increase anxiety and reduce sleep, prohibiting your recovery from stress. So to decrease your overall stress level, cut out the coffee and sugary drinks.
- Write it down
One way to handle stress is to write things down. While recording what you’re stressed about is one approach, another is jotting down what you’re grateful for.
Gratitude may help relieve stress and anxiety by focusing your thoughts on what’s positive in your life.
Take time to phone or video call your friends and family. Social support from friends and family can help you get through stressful times. Relationships give you a sense of belonging and self-worth, which can help you in tough times.
One study found that for women, in particular, spending time with friends and children (even via video a call) helps release oxytocin, a natural stress reliever. This effect is called “tend and befriend,” and is the opposite of the fight-or-flight response. Keep in mind that both men and women benefit from friendship.
- Try meditation
There are plenty of mindfulness apps and meditation guides designed to help with stress and anxiety that will help in this situation. In moments when everything feels overwhelming, it's helpful to try the mindfulness technique of grounding, which ties you back into the present moment when your brain is running ahead to all the things that could happen in the future.
An exercise you can do almost anywhere is the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. Begin by noticing and listing five things you see (perhaps all are the same colour), then four things you can hear, three things you can feel, two things you can smell, and lastly, one thing you can taste.
It’s hard to feel anxious when you’re laughing. It’s good for your health, and there are a few ways it may help relieve stress:
- Relieving your stress response
- Relieving tension by relaxing your muscles
- In the long term, laughter can also help improve your immune system and mood
Try watching a funny film or TV show or speak with friends who make you laugh.
Although stress and anxiety may arise in your workplace and personal life and further heightened by the second lockdown and ongoing pandemic, there are many different ways to reduce the pressure you feel. Why not share any stress-busting tips you have on our Facebook page – we’d love to hear them.