During times of uncertainty and change, there is often little we can do to influence or control the situation. This can leave us feeling powerless, angry and anxious.
This has never been more true than in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ONS reports that the number of adults experiencing depression has doubled from 1 in 10 (9.7%) to almost 1 in 5 (19.2%). Feeling stressed or anxious is the most common reason why they felt their well-being was affected. So it's clear why understanding and managing stress and mental health has never been more important.
If you're feeling stressed or uneasy, take a look at our 10 simple tips to help manage and reduce your stress levels and achieve better sense of wellbeing.
Top 10 Tips for Managing Stress and Mental Health
1) Adopt a healthy, active lifestyle
Our body is able to copy with stress better when we eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep and rest. Engaging in physical activity releases the chemical 'Endorphins' into our body. Endorphins reduce the perception of pain, and triggers a feeling of happiness and positivity.
Aim to do at least 150 minutes of light-exercise every week and adopt a balanced diet full of vegetables, protein and complex carbohydrates.
2) Avoid alcohol, nicotine and caffeine
Many people turn to alcohol, smoking or caffeine when they're feeling stressed. But these faulty coping mechanisms will just add to the problem in the long term.
Alcohol is a depressant, while caffeine and nicotine are stimulants. Too much of either and the body will react by releasing the stress hormone, which can increase or even cause anxiety. Stay away from them and look for healthier alternatives, like meditation or exercise.
3) Find time to connect with peopleFriends, family, and colleagues can ease our troubles and help us see things in a different way. Spending time with them can help us relax, have a laugh, and give us an enormous sense of belonging and self-worth.
Technology gives us the gift of seeing each other when we aren't physically able to. So make sure you stay connected with your loved ones through phone calls, video calls and social media.
4) Learn to manage your time more effectively
Accept that there will always be things to do, but there are only so many hours in the day and you can't do everything. When at work, take regular, 10-15 minute breaks and use that time to relax. Prioritise your day and do the important jobs first. Unimportant tasks can wait, and sometimes they'll disappear completely leaving you time to do other things.
However, be careful not to put off the unpleasant tasks. Avoidance can cause a great deal of stress. So give unpleasant tasks a high priority and get them over and done with.
5) Take time out to relax and recharge your batteries
In the UK, we work the longest hours in Europe. So set aside two evenings a week to do the things you love and help avoid working over-time. Also aim to take an annual break of at least 10-14 continuous days to go on holiday or enjoy a stay-cation.
6) Find out what causes you stress
Take time to discover what is worrying you and try to change your thoughts and behaviour to reduce it. A stress assessment can help you to fully understand the causes, the implications to your health, and how to manage, cope and make necessary changes.
7) Avoid unnecessary conflict
Don't be too argumentative. Ask yourself - is this worth the stress? Instead, look for win - win situations. Try and find a resolution to a dispute where both parties can achieve a positive outcome. Find out what the real cause of the problem is and deal with it head on.
8) Accept the things you cannot change
Changing a difficult situation isn't always possible. If this proves to be the case, recognise and accept things as they are and concentrate on all that you do have control over. Managing change effectively is essential or else performance will be reduced.
9) Try to see things differently and develop a positive thinking style
If something is concerning you, try to see it differently. Talk over your problem with someone before it gets out of proportion. Often, talking to a friend, colleague or family member will help you see things from a different and less stressful perspective.
Try and adopt a positive outlook by focusing on what you have. At the end of each day, make a list of all the little wins you've achieved and the things you're grateful for.
10) Be kind to yourself
Some people cope with stressful situations better than others. The good news is that resilience can be taught. All of these tips will help to build your strength and confidence, and enable you to cope with what life throws at you.
Want more help in managing stress? Take a look at our home-worker toolkit. It's full of helpful information for achieving positive wellbeing at home, including DSE and stress management.