“Health is not valued till sickness comes.”— Thomas Fuller
In these uncertain times, where we are all told to self isolate, the not knowing the restrictions on our freedom or the worry of contracting the virus can make even the most laidback of us feel stressed ,it is only natural to feel overwhelmed by the current situation we find ourselves in. It is perfectly ok to be frightened it is a scary time. Anxiety and stress is a form of survival
Steps to helps us manage stress
- Look at the things you can control such as vigilant handwashing, practising social distancing and self isolation. Observe the new rule of exercising or being within the 2km radius of your home.
- Anxiety thrives in times of crisis because it feeds on uncertainty and a lack of information, it is important that you are getting information from a reliable news source (HSE, GOV.IE / RTE / Newstalk). Knowing the facts of what is happening helps to stop our thoughts and worries spiralling out of control. Fake news and misinformation is omnipresent. It is important to be informed but not to be overloaded with information. Consuming too much media in a crisis situation is associated with increased levels of experienced stress. A suggestion would be to listen to the news once in the morning and again in the evening and limit it to that. Limit the amount of time you spend on social media and stop following anyone who makes you feel anxious
- If you are working from home create and maintain a routine. As boring as it sounds we are all creatures of habit. Create a designated work space in your home if you can, which is separate from where you sleep or relax, this means you can go to work and more importantly leave work at the end of the day
- Even though we are all in isolation, we can still keep up contact with friends and family through skype, zoom and facetime. We are social beings and talking to a friend or family member can help lower cortisol, a stress hormone. Our relationships play a massive role in our health and wellbeing.
- Eat well maintaining a healthy diet and keeping hydrated can keep our energy levels and mood stable. Drinking enough water is important for your mental and physical health. Changing your routine might affect when you drink or what fluids you drink. It could help to set an alarm or use an app to remind you. Vegetables and fruit contain a lot of the minerals, vitamins and fibre we need to keep us physically and mentally healthy. Eating a variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables every day means you’ll get a good range of nutrients. For healthy digestion you need to have plenty of fibre, fluid and exercise regularly. Healthy gut foods include: fruits, vegetables and wholegrains, beans, pulses, live yoghurt and other probiotics. Avoid foods which make your blood sugar rise and fall rapidly, such as sweets, biscuits, sugary drinks, and alcohol.
- Keep up your exercise routine – there are lots of homeworkouts on youtube or yoga classes. Going for a walk and getting out in the fresh air is a known stress reducer. Exercise helps shift your focus away from your worries. Daily exercise also helps you sleep better which has lots of physiological benefits
- Listening to music or playing an instrument are great ways of quietening the mind and provide an escape from frightening headlines
Make use of this extra time we all have by pursuing an activity that you really enjoy from cooking to learning a new language, art or learning to play an instrument.
- Declutter that wardrobe or use the opportunity to paint the house or take up gardening.
Getting your children to help out in the garden and start planting some seeds or vegetables, it will give them a great sense of purpose and also a new skill
When we do eventually come out of isolation and resume our normal day to day activities and when the children go back to school. We will savour and appreciate so much more all the things we took for granted such as meeting a friend for a coffee, going for a walk with friends, calling to see elderly parents, nights out with friends and family, having a massage / facial, going to the cinema and enjoying a meal in your favourite restaurant.
The benefits of isolation and social distancing will hopefully bring a new found perspective and appreciation for the little pleasures in our life.
The most important thing is our health and the health of our loved ones.
“You learn good health and family is it, and nothing else matters.”— Mike Adametz