Managing stress and anxiety in stressful and anxious times
The darker winter days, fewer opportunities to see family and friends and spending time outside all present challenges, enough to bring anyone down. Until spring arrives, with better weather and better times, here are some ways to bring some personal sunshine into your life.
Dressing your day
Everyone enjoys a cosy day at home, wrapped in comfy loungewear. On occasions it can be just what is needed to make us feel good. There are other options however and clothes can be a simple way to lift our mood.
If you are working from home, try keeping some of your pre-lockdown routines, especially when it comes to personal care and the wardrobe department. Dress as you would for the workplace and it may well make you feel better prepared for a positive day in the (home) office.
During those times when you’re not working, don’t feel bad about wearing those clothes you keep for special occasions, or those with nice memories attached. Colours that make you feel happy are also a great idea, even if you might not plan on going out; you can still do it for yourself.
Many people find that stress and anxiety is eased by listening to their favourite music, particularly when they are at a loose end.
You could try live radio. It can form an important connection with the world outside. Just be careful the news bulletins and debates don’t cause added anxiety.
Many people find playlists, streamed music and even records and CD’s are a much better solution to combat negative feelings. Simply because they give you the choice of exactly what you want to hear, whenever you want it, with a welcome break from the latest news and current affairs.
It makes perfect sense that what we put in our bodies can have a real impact on the way we feel. Food can make a big difference, both in the way it tastes and the way it looks. Certain foods and their flavours and aromas can remind us of places that are gloriously warm and sunny; happy places!
Soups too, in warming colours such as tomato, pumpkin, carrot and coriander with strong flavours and spices can make us feel a little internal sunshine. Don’t feel that you need to make a special journey to the shops, instead make the most of what you have.
Watching the things you love
We all have those feelings of sitting down and thinking ‘what can I do next?’. While spending so much time at home, they can lead to anxiety and a feeling of hopelessness.
If you have caught up on your list of things to do for the day and have some time to yourself, don’t feel guilty, enjoy it.
Watching an episode of your favourite comedy is a fine way to lift your mood and pass a little spare time. You know best what you like so indulge in someone else doing the cheering!
Going outdoors (and returning home)
These days, nothing can feel more stressful than going outside, for many it is the last thing they want to do, but it is vital to remember that staying local and adhering to the guidance will allow you to do it as safely as possible.
The fresh air, exercise endorphins and day light, even in late winter are all instant mood lifters, wrap up warm, stay close to home and you might be surprised at the effects.
Remember also, that there is nothing cosier than returning home, stripping off muddy shoes and relaxing with a hot cup of tea.
Talking things through
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of living with stress and anxiety is simply having someone to talk to. That might be a friend, a family member or someone who can offer counselling, help and advice.
You are most certainly not alone; you can contact your GP or call 111 for help and advice on stress and anxiety.
The Samaritans are also available all day, every day via their website or by calling 116 123 from the UK.