Coping with stress as lockdown eases

As some Covid-19 restrictions are relaxed across the UK this week, we know it’s a time of excitement and opportunity for some people. For others, these changes can cause stress and worry, with re-adjustment being difficult for our mental health. Regardless of how you view the easing of lockdown, we’re still living through a period of high stress and uncertainty, so building or maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key.

 

Remember that fear and anxiety is a natural emotional response as we approach the end of lockdown. It’s important not to judge ourselves based on what others are doing and to allow ourselves time to get back into the swing of things – adapting to the end of lockdown will likely take as long as it took us to adapt at the start of lockdown.

There are measures we can all take to look after our wellbeing and keep our stress levels at bay. These will likely be personal to your needs so it’s worth identifying a couple that work for you when things get overwhelming.

This Stress Awareness Month, we asked colleagues from across Mental Health UK and Rethink Mental Illness to share their tips for coping with stress as restrictions ease:

Stay in your own lane

“As lockdown eases, I’m keeping feelings of stress and anxiety at bay by not comparing myself to other people and what they’re doing. It’s important to remember that, although we’ve all lived through the pandemic, as individuals we’ve all had very different experiences and have been affected in different ways. Some will feel comfortable with things straight away, but for others it might take much longer. I’m doing things at my own pace and extending that same patience and understanding to my friends and family too.”

This too shall pass

“When I’m feeling anxious or stressed, it can sometimes feel like this is all there is and there’s no respite. I remind myself that this is not permanent. I won’t always feel this way. It will pass. Reminding myself of this helps give me perspective and stops those negative feelings from dominating.”

Turning off notifications

“I have disabled notifications on all my messaging and social media apps to give me control over my availability and allow me to switch off. This has hugely reduced my stress levels as it means I choose when I’m socialising and don’t feel as much pressure to commit to plans or get back to people, especially now that lockdown is easing and friends are planning more outings.”

Do some yoga

“My go-to (apart from a walk round the block) is yoga which I try to practise weekly if not twice-weekly! Sometimes peaceful yin, sometimes a more dynamic hatha flow session. My long-standing yoga teacher adapted her classes to Zoom throughout lockdown which created some consistency which was much needed! I look forward to practising with her again through the next period of change.”

Bringing yourself back to the moment

“Often when I’m stressed, my mind is easily distracted and racing with thoughts. I find my mind galloping from thought to thought when I’m doing something like washing the dishes. When I notice this happening, I try to bring myself back to the moment by focusing all my attention on what I’m doing then, and being mindful of the activity at hand. So, if I’m doing dishes – becoming aware of the temperature of the water, paying attention to my movements while scrubbing etc. When I notice I’m caught up in thoughts, I bring my attention back and this focus helps to calm my mind.”

Go for a jog

“Getting outside and into nature is a great way to let off some steam. After a run I always feel energised and able to approach whatever was causing me stress with a fresh mind.”

Keep in mind what you’ve learnt throughout lockdown

“For me, lockdown has brought my attention to what wasn’t working well for me in ‘normal’ life. There’s been a lot of talk in lockdown about how life after the restrictions ease isn’t about going back to ‘normal’ or how it was before, it’s about using what we’ve learnt to create a better ‘normal’. Although the prospects of seeing friends and travelling post-lockdown is exciting, I’m going to try my best to remember not to take on too much and allow myself to say no to things that I know will be detrimental to my mental health.”

Be open and honest at work

“If you’re feeling anxious about going back to work, changing shift patterns, or you’re not ready to jump straight back into a busy office, that’s okay. Many workplaces are offering flexible working now, so speak to your manager, tell them how you’re feeling and ask what is possible to ease you back in slowly.”

Diary management

“It may be the case that as lockdown eases, your social diary starts to look very healthy again, which is great! Just remember to book time in the diary for your favourite wellbeing activities as well. Self-tanning, cross-stitch and gardening are a few of mine, get them booked in and stick to them to ensure a good balance of being social and recharging your batteries.”

Your donation will make the difference

Just £10 could help pay for a call to our advice and information line, supporting someone living with mental illness who may be feeling in distress during this time.

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