How to handle stress in lockdown
Everyone experiences stress at some point in their lives but if it is affecting your health and wellbeing then it may be time to address the stress and find some solutions to cope. During the lockdown, more people are struggling to find a work-life balance, are taking on more household responsibilities such as cleaning, cooking and childcare as well as having less time to their selves. Minimising stress and finding self-care coping mechanisms has never been more important. Our guide to de-stressing at home during lockdown will provide you with easy and effective steps to unwind, relieve the pressure from your body and open to a positive inner self.
What is stress and what are the long-term effects on the body?
When we are stressed, hormones such as cortisol are released, contributing to a ‘fight or flight’ response. This manifests as increased heart rate, heavy breathing and blood vessel constriction, priming us to escape from predators and immediate danger, just like in prehistoric times. When we experience these responses in modern times, they instead contribute to chronic conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), headaches, anxiety and depression, as well as making existing conditions such as IBS, insomnia and asthma worse.
De-stressing at home during lockdown: 6 Easy Steps
1. Recognise when you’re stressed
Tuning in to the body and identifying when you are stressed can help you address the cause of stress. Some symptoms of being overly stressed include tension in the jaw, tense or tired muscles and cramps in the stomach. How is your breath? When we are stressed, we often breath more shallowly – take time to deepen the breath and use the 4-7-8 technique. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold the breath for 7 seconds and exhale for 8 seconds. Repeat as many times as necessary to slow the breath and calm down.
High quality sleep can reduce stress and help cultivate a positive attitude. Creating a sleep routine can help sync your body into a healthy sleep cycle. Try and wake up at the same time every day (even on weekends!) to reset your body clock. If you struggle to get to sleep, magnesium has been seen to improve sleep, reduce stress and contribute to heart and bone health. Magnesium can be found in dark leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts, coffee and chocolate. If you suffer from poor sleep, a magnesium supplement can improve the onset, duration and quality of sleep. Together OceanPure Night Time Magnesium is a vegan formulation derived from food to improve absorption and has been seen to improve sleep.
3. Cultivate self-care strategies to cope with stress
Embracing and enjoying time to yourself is one of the best ways to reduce stress. Taking time to enjoy a luxurious hot shower or bath may seem indulgent but studies have shown that regular baths have been seen to reduce depression (happiful.com, 2019). Taking a hot bath can help sleep by helping synchronising our natural circadian rhythms, leading to better sleep patterns, along with improved quality of sleep and overall wellbeing. REN Atlantic Kelp and Microalgae Anti-Fatigue Bath Oil is a calming, relaxing and moisturising bath oil to help you decompress. Follow up with the REN Atlantic Kelp and Microalgae Anti-Fatigue Body Cream to lock in moisture and conclude your relaxing treatment.
Essential oils are a natural remedy for feelings of stress. Aromatherapy can reduce the perception of stress, increase contentment, and decrease levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Scentered De-Stress Therapy Balm is a blend of chamomile, neroli and mandarin to ease tension and uplift spirits in an easy roll-on formula.
4. Reduce technology use
Technology use can impact our sleep as the blue light suppresses melatonin (the hormone which helps us sleep) production, causing sleep disruption. SleepDOT by energydots is a natural sleep aid which emits a specific mix of soothing vibrations and reduces the impact wireless radiation has on the body. Smartphones are also linked to increased stress, due to the negative effects of social media and the constant pressure to respond to people.
5. Reduce caffeine intake
Cutting down on your caffeine intake won’t only improve your sleep but also your mood, decrease blood pressure and reduce stress. Reduce your caffeine intake slowly, start by swapping your afternoon coffee and black tea for herbal teas. English Tea Shop Organic Perfect Peppermint Tea is the perfect swap as it is a sweet, caffeine-free tea which may also improve gut issues.
6. Enjoy movement
Integrating physical exercise into your day can reduce stress. Any form of movement will positively benefit your physical and mental health. Movement raises self-esteem, gives you goals or challenges to achieve and causes chemical changes in your brain which can help to positively change your mood (NHS, 2020). Try walking, yoga or running or your favourite form of exercise to lift your mood.
There is no one solution to reduce stress to improve mental health and wellbeing. Instead, try a few of the techniques mentioned in this guide to find your perfect self-care techniques to relieve stress.