There’s nothing normal about life right now. As we head towards a second lockdown, staying mentally strong has taken on more meaning than ever before. While scientists race to find a vaccine, a cure, or a treatment for Covid-19, most of us are struggling to make sense of it all.
And while we have little control on what is going on in the world right now, with regard to the pandemic, we can control how we respond to it mentally.
When stress becomes overwhelming, or it’s chronic, it can take a toll on our wellbeing. That’s why it’s vital to have effective stress relievers that can calm our mind and our body.
Certain habits can promote resilience to stress, as well as increase overall wellness. For example, those who exercise or meditate regularly tend to become less stressed in the face of a difficult challenge. So it’s important to create a lifestyle that will help you ward off stress and deal with challenges in a healthy way.
In support of International Stress Awareness Week (November 2 – 6), we’ve put together some stress relief tips that may help you to deal with your current circumstances. Remember, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all option when it comes to stress management so pick a strategy that works for you.
Eat a balanced diet
A poor diet can bring greater reactivity toward stress. Emotional eating and reaching for high-fat, high-sugar foods can provide a temporary sense of relief that adds to your long-term stress. Refined carbs, such as biscuits, cakes and crisps, can cause a spike in blood sugar. When your blood sugar crashes, you might experience more stress and anxiety. Consuming a healthy diet can help you combat stress over the long haul. Foods such as eggs, avocado, and walnuts and probiotic and non-probiotic food and supplements such as kefir support mood regulation and energy balance.
Our nutritional therapist Dominique Ludwig says:
“It’s so interesting but the food we eat really can affect not only the way our digestion feels but also the way our mind and mood are affected. Eating the right food can make you feel brighter, lighter, energised and happier.
“When you follow a healthy eating plan, such as my Renew, Reset, Recharge programme, it balances your blood glucose really well and allows the body to have a more constant supply of energy. This can positively impact on sleep, improve mood and concentration levels – all of which are essential in the management of stress relief.”
Make time for leisure activities
Leisure activities can be a wonderful way to relieve stress. Yet, many people feel as though their lives are too busy for hobbies. But building time for leisure into your schedule could be key to helping you feel your best. Whether you enjoy gardening, dancing , knitting or drawing hobbies and leisure activities are essential to living your best life.
Develop a positive internal dialogue
The way you talk to yourself matters. Harsh self-criticism, self-doubt, and pessimistic predictions aren’t helpful. If you’re constantly thinking things like, “I don’t have time for this”, and “I can’t face this” you’ll stress yourself out. Learn to talk to yourself in a more rational, compassionate manner. When you get cross with yourself or doubt your ability to succeed, reply with a kinder inner dialogue. Positive talk can help you develop a healthier outlook. And an optimistic and compassionate conversation can help you manage your emotions and take positive action.
Take a breath of fresh air
There are multiple health benefits from being outside as Mother Nature intended. Even just 10minutes spent in the fresh air can lift your mood, boost your energy and make you feel brighter. Fresh air increases the flow of oxygen in our bodies which results in greater brain functioning; the knock-on effect is improved concentration and increased energy. This increase in oxygen also helps our white blood cells function effectively which in turn helps improve our immunity – essential for battling bacteria, germs and viruses such as Covid-19. Knowing that such a simple thing as going for a walk outside may help in the battle against Covid-19 in itself is a stress reliever!
Yoga combines movement, meditation, light exercise and controlled breathing – all of which provide excellent stress relief. And while you’re likely to reap immediate benefits from a single yoga session, you’re likely to receive long-term benefits if you incorporate it into your life in a consistent way. Yoga offers a variety of physical, psychological, and spiritual benefits. While physical classes are off limit in lockdown, you can get started by enrolling in an online program or use an app to help you begin practicing. (If you are interested in getting started our friends at Blessed can help.)
Physical activity is a key component in managing stress and improving mental health. And the best news is, there are many different kinds of activities that can reduce your stress – and they don’t have to cost the earth. Studies show that people who consistently exercise manage their stress more effectively and tend to exhibit lower levels of stress than people who don’t exercise. This is because exercise is known to lift your mood and give you energy while helping you feel more confident and in control. Exercise such as walking, strength training, cycling, swimming and hiking also releases feel-good hormones while reducing stress. Although joining a gym is off limits at the moment you can still take an online class (we particularly like Chris Hemsworth’s Centr app) or exercise outside.