Your Wellbeing – stress awareness month

Looking After Your Wellbeing

April is Stress awareness month, which seems particularly apt given the current uncertainty we face with the coronavirus (COVID- 19).

The coronavirus has had an impact on everyone so it is OK to feel anxious, concerned or stressed. You may be finding social distancing and staying at home is causing you to feel bored, lonely, worried or unhappy. People react differently to change but it is important that we all take care of our physical and mental health. Here are some things you can do to manage your feelings and your general wellbeing.

Stay Connected

Maintaining relationships with your family and friends is important and even though we have to practice physical social distancing this does not mean that you can’t keep in touch in other ways. Apps like FaceTime, WhatsApp, Messenger, Twitter, as well as email are all ways you can keep in touch with each other. For some, perhaps those who are not as confident with technology, a telephone call, card or letter may be a good option.

It’s Good to Talk

It’s important to keep talking to your friends and family. You won’t be the only person feeling worried, anxious, or sad, they may need to talk too. Chatting to someone you trust about how you are feeling can help you and could help them too.

Sometimes we all need extra support. There are apps, websites and organisations that can help. For example Kooth is an online counselling and emotional wellbeing platform specifically designed for children and young people. It can be accessed online, for free, using a desktop computer, tablet or mobile. The Mental Health Foundation has published a series of podcasts on wellbeing topics including techniques for stress relief.

Take Time Out and Stick to the Facts

Keeping informed may make you feel more in control of things but if you are feeling overwhelmed take time away from the news and social media. Limit yourself to how many times a day you check the news and be sure you’re getting the facts. Use trusted sources to find out the latest information about coronavirus such as NHS and government websites. If you do use other sources double check their information. Think about what you read and don’t spread misinformation and fake news.

If you find that things on social media are triggering feelings of worry and anxiety then take a break. Clean your feed, for example temporarily mute keywords on Twitter and mute or unfollow accounts, hide Facebook posts and feeds, or mute WhatsApp groups.

Your Physical Wellbeing

Look after your physical wellbeing
How you are feeling can be impacted by your physical health so it is important to think about what you eat, how much you exercise and getting a good night’s sleep.

Eating a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables helps in preventing disease, maintaining a healthy immune system, and can improve your mood, give you more energy and help you think more clearly.

person doing yoga

We are often told of the benefits of exercise to our physical health but exercise is important for our mental wellbeing too. As well as keeping you physically fit exercise is an antidepressant, your brain releases feel good chemicals when you exercise. Exercise can involve achieving goals, which can give you a psychological boost, and while you exercise you are taking a break from thinking about the things that are worrying you. Current restrictions still allow you to go outside to exercise, for example by going for a walk, a run, or a bike ride, as long as you maintain social distancing guidelines. There are also things that you can do at home such as stretches, yoga or Tai chi, all great at reducing stress levels. Just in case you were wondering, housework and gardening count as exercise too!

Image of sleep

Sleep affects your mood so it is important to maintain good sleeping habits. Try to keep to a regular routine by going to bed when you normally would and getting up in the morning. Try not to sleep too long into the day.  Avoid eating late at night as this can cause indigestion and impact on your sleep. Avoid screens before bed and create a restful environment. Unplug electronic devices to cut out light in your room. Use night mode, on those devices that have it, to switch off sleep disturbing blue light. It can be difficult to get a good night’s sleep when you are feeling worried so try to relax and get ready for sleep by reading a book, listening to an audiobook or trying a relaxation app or podcast for example.

Do Things You Enjoy

Being worried, anxious or feeling unhappy, may mean that you do the things that you enjoy less often than you usually would. Focusing on the things you enjoy can help to boost your mood, help you to relax and give you time away from worrying or unhappy thoughts. Try to use social distancing and staying at home as an opportunity to improve your skills or to try something new. Why not learn a new language, the possibilities are endless. There are lots of free courses online and people are coming up with lots of innovative ways to socialise, why not join your family and friends in a ‘virtual quiz’!

Remember it is important to set goals and keep your mind active. Take a look at the Action for Happiness’ ‘Coping Calendar’ as an example.

For useful resources take a look at the NHS mindfulness page and the Every Mind Matters website.