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Anxiety about COVID? Tips for managing stress and improving wellbeing

The effects of coronavirus is still having profound impacts on our daily lives in the UK. After over a year of on and off lockdowns many of us are feeling anxious about the changes to the rules and worried about impending future waves. Feelings of worry and nervousness are normal in uncertain times but there are some tips which can help us deal with the anxiety of coming out of lockdown and getting used to the new normal.

Lockdown has forced many of us into isolation. Now a rise in agoraphobia is causing concern as governments restrictions have been lifted and we are being encouraged to go back outside, and return to our workplace. Mental health issues like these anxiety disorders highlights the very human cost of the COVID crisis. In addition, mental health services are on its knees, demand for mental health support is surging, and voluntary sector organisations are left picking up the pieces. The issue of agoraphobia poses serious risks and concerns for our physical health. COVID vaccines are available to those who can access vaccination centres but no options have been provided for those who fear using pubic transport, going in pubic spaces or even leaving their homes. Anxiety disorders extend to fear of contracting the virus and without the protection of the vaccine administrated in a way these people can feel safe, we are leaving people at crisis point feeling there is nowhere to go.

In light of these current issues, Just For Women have put together some relaxation and resilience building tips to help manage stress and improve wellbeing in uncertain times.

Why is relaxation so important?

Relaxation is a state of feeling calm and can manage the stress of day-to-day life. The opposite of relaxation is a state of fight or flight. This is our primitive response when we sense danger and feel anxious which makes changes to our body to help us prepare for danger. Some of the changes include shutting down our immune and digestive systems which means it is only when we are relaxed we can make repairs, store energy, take nutrients and fight infections. 

There are mental, physical and social benefits of living in a state of relaxation. Some of the benefits are:

  • Reduces the symptoms of mental health conditions
  • Relieve muscle tension
  • Lower heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate
  • Improve concentration
  • Reduce fatigue
  • Improve mood
  • Reduce feelings of anger or frustration
  • Boost confidence and handle problems.

How can I become more relaxed? 

They are many relaxation techniques which can bring a sense of calm to our everyday lives. There are also many factors which play a part in building our resilience enabling us to be able to manage the stress of our day to day lives. Combining a mix of these relaxation techniques and resilience building strategies can help us to enter a state of relaxation and to maintain this state as our environment changes. 

Some of the relaxation techniques you can try are:

  • Meditation 
  • Mindful 
  • Exercise 
  • Support groups
  • Learn something new
  • Create something 

Some of the resilience building strategies are:

  • Create meaningful connections with family and friends around us, as well as creating new support networks. 
  • Self care. Looking after your physical and emotional wellbeing. Listen to your body and feelings. Find things you enjoy and help you to relax. 
  • Putting things into perspective can help us to see present crisis and solvable issues and the future as bright. 
  • Accepting change in the inevitable 
  • Create a routine which works towards your goals. Doing a little everyday to work towards a goal puts you a little closer one step at a time. 
  • Take decisive actions and tackle issues head on. Sometimes we just want to Bury our head in the sand until our problems go away, but tackling them head on creates head space for other elements of our lives. 
  • Look for opportunities for self-discovery. “People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss.”
  • Nurture a positive view of yourself. “Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.”
  • Take care of yourself. “Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing

Another way to keep your mind active and focused is crafting, if crafting at home in your spare time is something you enjoy then please feel free to visit our website that provides crafts kits for enhance your wellbeing. – click here

why is relaxation so difficult?

Do you ever find yourself unable to stop? Filling every spare moment with activity? It could be with never ending lists, work-a-holic tendencies, a gruelling exercise routine, excessive planning, obsessive cleaning rituals, reading, studying, talking to friends or family. Technology has given us more opportunities to fill every last second with films, TV series, documentaries, tiktok videos, instant messaging, Facebook Feeds, news reels…   This is the manic defence, a tendency to distract the conscious mind with activity when uncomfortable thoughts or feelings are presented. This is a normal response to prevent feelings of helplessness or despair. The problem arises when we find it difficult to cope with even short periods of unstructured time, and over long periods prevents us from the benefits of relaxation.

Why should I practice relaxation? 

Relaxation has many physical, emotional and social benefits which can help us to create a more meaningful and fulfilling life. A meaningful life includes 4 main elements; belonging, purpose, storytelling and transcendence. It is through relaxation which we can access each of these elements and live life to its fullest.

The problem with living in a state of manic defence is we forget the important things in our life which we value. We neglect our relationships, forget our purpose for the pursuit of our distractions, and preoccupy ourselves so much we overlook participating in experiences which fill us with awe or wonder. We are so caught up in our own self-importance we have not considered experiences with more meaning. When was the last time you did a random act of kindness?

It is through practicing relaxation we can slow down enough to see opportunities and engage in activities which reflect our values. It is only when we are able to manage the stress of our day-to-day life that we can take more into our lives. Resting and practicing relaxation techniques to enter a state of relaxation can help us to evaluate what is important in our life, ask ourselves ‘what are my values?’, and reflect upon our learning.

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