Do you feel as though your stress levels are higher, even though most of us have been social distancing at home? Research has found that stress levels are higher for employees during the pandemic1. In this blog, we’ll look into ways you can help manage your stress levels.
Seems simple enough right? When you’re stressed, you may feel as though you have less energy and your concentration levels have dropped. Once you do some exercise, it can help relieve tension, anxiety and anger. As you are focusing more on your body rather than your mind, it can help take your mind off of any worries you have2.
Exercise leads your body to better use oxygen and improve blood flow. Your brain also produces more endorphins, which can create a sense of euphoria and well-being. Almost any exercise can be helpful, from doing a few laps in the pool, to jogging, swimming, dancing or working with resistance bands2.
When you’re stressed, it can increase blood sugar, raise your blood sugar levels and increase your heartbeat. A healthy diet can help stabilise your blood sugar levels. To do this, you can3:
- Eat whole, natural foods like vegetables
- Eat a balanced breakfast by avoiding sugary cereals, pastries and excess caffeine
- Prioritising protein by focusing on lean meat, fish, chicken, nuts and seeds.
- Not skipping meals and eating healthy snacks.
- Avoid highly refined foods
Social Time (Virtual)
It might be difficult to meet with friends at the moment, but being able to communicate with friends can help reduce stress. Have a online group video chat, play games or just share stories, and let the laughter flow. Similar to exercise, laughter can also release endorphins4. If you’re feeling stressed, being able to chat with your friends online can help you alleviate some of the stress.
There are a few relaxation techniques which you can use5:
- Deep breathing – in a quiet place, breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth. When breathing in, fill in the entirety of your lungs without force. Breathe in slowly and regularly (count from 1 to 5), and breathe out slowly (counting from 1 to 5). Repeat until you feel calm.
- Progressive muscle relation – in a quiet place, close your eyes and undertake some deep breathing as above. For your face, push your eyebrows together (like you’re frowning!) and release. With your neck, tilt your head forward so that your chin is pushing down on your chest, and then lift again. For your legs, push your toes away from your body and then pull towards your body to help you relax. A full list of progressive muscle relaxation techniques can be viewed on the Health Direct (2019) website by clicking here.
Other options for relation include yoga and tai chi, which can be considered as a form of exercise.
Do you talk to yourself? Honestly, it’s more common than you think! If you’re being negative, it can increase your stress levels. Being positive can calm you down and control your stress levels. How can you talk positively to yourself? It’s shifting your thoughts from ‘I cannot do this’ to ‘I’ll give it my best shot because I know I can do this’. Or from ‘why is everything so wrong’ to ‘I can do this by taking one step at a time’6.
The above are just a few of the ways you can manage stress. Let us know if you have other techniques you use to help manage stress!
- 1. Gavidia, M. 2020, How Has COVID-19 Affected Mental Health, Severity of Stress Among Employees?, The American Journal of Managed Care, Cranbury, NJ, < <https://www.ajmc.com/newsroom/how-has-covid19-affected-mental-health-severity-of-stress-among-employees>
- 2. Madell, R. 2020, Exercise as Stress Relief, Healthline, USA, <https://www.healthline.com/health/heart-disease/exercise-stress-relief#1>
- 3. Lewin, J. 2014, Stress Relief: How Diet and Lifestyle can Help, BBC Good Food, <https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/stress-diet-can-foods-help>
- 4. Andersen, C.H. 2020, How Friends Relieve Stress and Help Us Cope, <https://www.thehealthy.com/mental-health/stress/how-friends-relieve-stress-and-help-us-cope/>
- 5. Healthdirect, Relaxation Techniques for Stress Relief, <https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/relaxation-techniques-for-stress-relief>
- 6. American Heart Association Inc., 3 Tips to Manage Stress, Dallax, TX, <https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/3-tips-to-manage-stress>