5 tips to master your stress in post-lockdown times: a realistic roadmap

For this week’s blog post I was inspired by the UK’s Stress Management Society and their yearly initiative since 1992 in the month of April to raise public awareness about stress and its recognised impact in our daily lives. 

One of their most recent studies in collaboration with Huawei AppGallery has shown that 65% of people in the UK have felt more stressed since COVID-19 restrictions began in March 2020. According to this study the 3 main causes of concern amongst people were feelings of disconnection, uncertainty and a worrying loss of control (Stress Management Society, 2021).
Additionally, research conducted by the Mental Health Foundation (2021) revealed that 74% of UK adults have felt stressed, overwhelmed or unable to cope at some point last year. 

With lockdown restrictions being lifted and life slowly going back to normal or shall we say a ‘new normal’?, many of us are feeling increasingly stressed and anxious about going out and the ‘readiness to mingle’.
Thus, more than ever, being kind and compassionate to ourselves and others is key, i.e. accepting and respecting that everyone has their own ‘easing-off lockdown’ timings and this can create increased stress and anxiety. 

April 2021 may be marked by hope, excitement, relief, freedom but still with anxiety, fear, uncertainty and scepticism about the months ahead.

Despite being an optimistic person by nature, I have also realised that as time goes by I have adapted to a ‘lockdown life’ and built new routines and habits that have helped me to cope with this new way of living. Hence, this blog post is about me, you and everyone else in the world right now and instead of sharing with you ‘book-prescribed tips’ to master your stress in post-lockdown times I want to give you strategies that have worked for me in the hope they will also work for you.  

Master your stress in post-lockdown times with my top 5 roadmap tips:

Cook & eat for optimal health

Despite many months of home-made cooking and many of us wanting to experience the joys of sitting in a restaurant, I encourage you to continue cooking and eating mindfully to promote optimal health. These are ‘routines that never go out of fashion’ even in the most difficult times – a wholesome diet that includes homemade meals packed with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and good quality protein and fats.

Move your body

The positive benefits of any form of physical activity in managing stress and anxiety are widely recognised. Whatever form of physical activity you choose from: yoga, pilates, swimming, dance, walking, running, cycling or strength training – continue to move to sustain life and health.

Disconnect to reconnect

Although the feeling of disconnection can be an identified source of stress, how many times staying in solitude (not loneliness!) and with yourselves can lead to greater benefit in the short-term? Sometimes, to reconnect with yourselves and others and manage difficult and negative emotions we need to go offline. Allow yourself to switch off your phone, to not reply to text messages/phone calls straight away and/or to stop scrolling on your Instagram/Facebook for a couple of hours if days are not realistic for you yet. 

Gratitude

Practicing daily gratitude or feeling grateful in the here and now when the world is still on stand-by may seem an impossible task to master. However, the more we say thank you to yourselves, others and for things we have around us the more we can feel positive, optimistic and hopeful. A grateful thought a day can definitely keep the doctor away. There is always one thing to be grateful every single day: your warm and tasty cup of coffee in the morning, the smell of your clean bedsheets, the hello from your neighbour, your holiday memories, your best friend’s good news, your mother’s homemade cooking or the playful times spent with your dog. 

Say ‘no’

Saying no can be one of the hardest things to do. As human beings our natural tendency is to always be ready to say yes even if in reality all we want is to say no. Allow yourself to say NO and be OK with it – you are not going to be a ‘bad friend’ or care less for your family members if you don’t accept an invitation to meet in the next month or so. Say YES when you are ready and stress free. Choose to make your own choices and choose to follow what you feel is right for you. 

Go to www.stress.org.uk/ and www.mentalhealth.org.uk/ if you want to know more about the Stress Management Society and the Mental Health Foundation and want to get involved. 

References:

Mental Health Foundation (2021). ‘Coronavirus: Mental Health in the pandemic’. [Online].  Available at https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/our-work/research/coronavirus-mental-health-pandemic/  (Accessed at: 13 April 2021).

Stress Management Society (2021). ‘What is stress’. [Online]. Available at https://www.stress.org.uk/what-is-stress/ (Accessed at: 13 April 2021).