Looking for tips to help manage the build-up of stress and anxiety? We are in an ever changing climate at the moment which creates a high level of uncertainty, and unfortunately a whole lot of stress with it.
Getting caught up in the media hype, in particular social media posts from unknown sources is a very bad idea. It just perpetuates misinformation and panic, which sends anxiety through the roof. The government are releasing statements as things change, and they are getting fed information from bodies such as the World health Organisation and Infection Control experts. So this may be enough if you’re wanting the latest most relevant information.
How is all this madness effecting you?
Everyone experiences different effects of stress and anxiety. You may get the jitters, you may not be able to fall asleep with a million thoughts racing through your mind, or you may feel physically ill or have sweaty palms. These feelings can quickly snowball and can become very intense.
It’s important to learn how to manage your stress and anxiety levels to get you through, what may become months, of hysteria. Some common symptoms of stress and anxiety include:Headaches: stress can trigger and intensify tension headaches.
Rapid breathing: when stressed, we take small shallow breaths rather than deep breaths to move air in and out of the lungs.
Insomnia: stress makes it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Weaker immune system: Intense periods of stress and anxiety can suppress your immune system, which can be disastrous at this time of the year. Also check out my article, Boosting Your Family’s Immunity, which provides details on differing needs for each stage of life from babies and infants, school aged children through to adolescents and teenagers.
Heartburn: stress decreases the production of stomach acid leading to heartburn and indigestion.
Stomach aches: stress can affect your digestive system leading to nausea and other stomach issues.
High blood pressure: stress hormones tighten blood vessels which raise blood pressure and can increase your risk of having a heart attack.
High blood sugar: stress causes your liver to release extra sugar (glucose) into your bloodstream, leading to fluctuating blood glucose and increasing your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Fertility issues: stress interferes with the reproductive system in both men and women, and may also affect your periods, sex drive and the ability to get an erection
Depression: over time, chronic stress and the potential for isolation, can lead to depression and other mental health problems.
What happens to your body when you’re feeling stressed and anxious?
It is essential to recognise your personal signs and symptoms of stress and anxiety, and take steps to reduce the harmful effects on your mind and body.
Here are my 5 top tips to help you manage the madness.
1. Take a Breath
When you’re beginning to feel stressed or anxious be sure to slow down. Take a moment in a quiet place and focus on your breathing. Take 5-10 deep slow breaths and you will begin to activate your body’s relaxation response. You will immediately be able to feel your muscles and mind relax.
Faced with possible lock down and partial isolation means more time at home. Now is the best time to try some relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation and deep breathing. There are so many great online options such as; Gaia, Calm, Headspace, Smiling Mind to name a few. All come with mobile phone Apps to make it even more convenient. When practised regularly, these activities will reduce your everyday stress and anxiety levels and help you remain calm in amongst the chaos.
2. Eat Well
The food we eat has a direct effect on our ability to cope with stress and anxiety. If you have a diet that includes processed foods, cakes, and pastries and sugary snacks your blood sugar levels will be affected and your emotional response will be triggered. Try to avoid alcohol and caffeine, which may be easier with everything closed, as these can aggravate your nervous system – making stress and anxiety worse.
Instead, opt for a diet rich in fresh and seasonal fruit and vegetables which aren’t flying off the shelf at the moment and are still readily available. Please check out my latest post on Facebook or Instagram, on immune building smoothies.
3. Get Moving
Regular exercise is a great way to burn off stress and anxiety. When you exercise your body releases endorphins and other brain chemicals that help you cope with your emotions and lift your mood.
Even in isolation walking isn’t banned (as long as it isn’t a large group), so get out and get moving. This is also a great way to help you practice mindfulness. The best part is that when you exercise you will feel better and also sleep better.
When we’re stressed we often lie awake for hours or wake in the middle of the night which disrupts our sleep. Lack of sleep can cause you to think irrationally and react more quickly to stressful events. Create an evening routine to relax your mind and body. You could have a bath, play some music, read a book or try a relaxation technique.
Avoid light exposure such as TV, phones and electronic devices before going to bed and remove them from your room so you’re not tempted to use them. If you are using an App on your mobile as a sleep/relaxation aid than place your phone on air plane mode, and keep it at least at arms distance.
5. Connect to Yourself & Others
How is this possible you may say?
Below are some ways to curb the loneliness that can come with being isolated.
- Letter writing to elderly relatives is great for both you and them.
- Connect online via Skype, Zoom, Google Meet, Facebook live, messenger etc. You can even play board games together online. Play musical instruments together.
- Connect with family members in the home with music, movies, cards and board games.
- Fresh air is essential, get outside and feel the grass on your feet and the wind in your hair.
- Remember try to connect with people who make you feel good, who are positive and who are uplifting. Avoid people who emotionally drain you, that bring further stress or are in panic mode!
- Now is also the ideal opportunity to get some creative juices going. Start the art/drawing online course you’ve always wanted to do, or get some art & craft supplies (while we can) and get busy. Pull out the musical instrument collecting dust and reignite your passion to play. Journal writing is also an effective way to explore & deal with feelings of stress & anxiety.
Things are changing daily, there is no normal at the moment. The challenge is to stay logical and not panic. What is happening now is not going to last forever. We will get through this. Arm yourself with the tools required to stay safe, sane and strong in amongst the madness.