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Pete Swatkins

Pete Swatkins

How to Reduce Your Stress

What is stress? The word is thrown around a lot nowadays, and it’s developed a pretty bad reputation. According to Cleveland Clinic, “stress is the body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response.” Whether this change happens physically, mentally or emotionally, stress is a pretty normal thing to occur.

Stress isn’t all bad. There are definitely both positive and negative types of stress, and we should all be aiming to find a balance between the two. For example, when we exercise, we put stress on our body to perform. Just trying a new diet or lifestyle can cause stress, even if it’s a positive change.

Yet, it’s safe to say that we’re all experiencing excess negative stress at the moment. COVID-19 has sent shockwaves throughout our daily lives, and changed the way we’re all living, meaning you’re probably feeling a bit more stressed out than normal. This can throw our hormones out of whack, having a ripple effect on our moods, anxiety levels and day-to-day living.

So, what can you do to keep these excess stress levels down? Here are our recommendations for how to reduce your stress during the coronavirus outbreak.

How to keep your stress levels down.

Get outside

As much as our time outside is limited at the moment, getting some fresh air is more important than ever. Having a change of scenery is vital to positive mental and physical wellbeing, and the benefits of getting out into nature are abundant.

Did you know that spending time in nature actually has a bigger impact on reducing stress than going to the gym does? So, if you’re missing your usual workout routine, try heading out for a quick walk in the park. Plus, you don’t need to spend hours in nature to see the benefits. In fact, just 20 minutes of contact with nature will lower stress hormone levels.

As well as reducing stress levels, getting outside can help with concentration, fatigue and memory. Feeling a bit crap? Has your brain given up? Can’t seem to find motivation to do, well, anything? Business Insider calls this “mental fatigue”. If your brains come to an abrupt halt, you’ve probably mentally exhausted yourself, and getting outside is a quick way to restore this energy.

If going for a walk isn’t doable, sitting in the garden or cracking open a window are great ways to see some benefits. In 2006, the Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research found that simply having a view of nature when in the office can boost job satisfaction and reduce stress. So, if you’re working from home, try to do it with a view.

Create a routine

When our plans are limited, and we don’t have the usual structure of meeting friends, going to work or having our usual Sunday morning workout classes, it can be easy for the days to merge together. This can lead to a build-up of stress, frustration and fatigue.

Rather than getting overwhelmed with the sudden abrupt change to our routines, having a back-up plan is a good idea. Sticking to a routine throughout the uncertainty means you’re more likely to keep up with things that need doing (avoiding going stir-crazy in the process, too). According to Headspace, by “creating a set schedule for doing chores, work and exercise, it becomes easier to accomplish everything, because it becomes a habit.”

Stick to your circadian rhythm (your usual biological clock). Get up at the same time every day, eat your meals at the same time, and try to get to bed normally too. Make sure you’re working 9-5, or your usual hours, and avoid spreading your work into the evenings. Even having a late night on the weekends is a good idea! Through setting clear boundaries for your day, it’ll have a knock-on effect on your stress levels. You’ll feel more productive, you won’t be worrying about all your chores, and you can relax in the evenings like normal.

Get in some exercise

We’re so passionate about how staying fit and active helps to reduce stress, that we’ve written a whole blog on how it can help. From building up your emotional resilience to improving your mood and sleep, exercising really is a great form of stress relief.

It’s been found that people who exercise daily reduce their risk of anxiety by 40%, so getting a session in is undoubtably going to benefit your mental health. Plus, a study by the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health found that a daily 15-minute run, or an hour-long walk, can reduce the risk of major depression by 26%. You really don’t need to set aside a bunch of time to see big impacts on your stress levels.

We’ve taken our business online for the time being, to make sure you can still get in a good workout while in self-isolation. If you’d like to find out more, check out our Instagram page or send us an enquiry here.

Talk to friends

Self-isolation doesn’t mean you should reduce the amount of time you spend with your friends. While you’ll have to find new ways of communicating, there’s still time for your usual Saturday night pub crawl (even if it’s only going from your kitchen to your sofa via Zoom).

Keeping in touch with your mates is pretty good for your mental health. In fact, a 2010 study of over 300,000 people found that having an active social life was twice as effective at prolonging life than exercise. It’s safe to say that staying in touch with friends and family is important.

The World Health Organisation recommends staying connected via email, social media, video conferencing and telephone wherever possible. Mental health charity Mind even suggests there are benefits of watching something on TV while video chatting with someone – as you don’t need to be chatting 24/7 to reap the benefits. Just knowing someone’s there can reduce your stress while social distancing.

Take up a hobby

Whether it’s watching a new Netflix show, starting gardening or taking up a new exercise routine, it’s a great time to take up something new. Hobbies stave off chronic fatigue by building a sense of ‘fun and freedom’ to your current circumstances. So, if you’re feeling stressed or frustrated at the minute, starting something new could be your route to relaxation.

A study conducted by the Society of Behavioral Medicine found that people who engaged in leisure activities were 34% less stressed and 18 % less sad during these activities. Not only did they report feeling happier, but their heart rates were lower (plus, the calming effect lasted for hours). So, if you need a quick pick-me-up and are feeling down, try starting something new.

Gardening as a hobby.

So, whether it’s creating a routine or starting something new, there’s a bunch of ways you can reduce your stress levels while in self isolation. These tips are also useful for future stress, so if you’re trying to feel a bit calmer in the future, you know what to do.

How are you reducing your stress while in self-isolation? Let us know on Instagram!

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