“These are unprecedented times.” We’ve been hearing that phrase a lot recently, haven’t we? Many of us, perhaps even all of us, are naturally experiencing elevated levels of worry, stress and anxiety right now, and so it’s more important than ever for us to press pause and reflect on our stress responses. This helps identify how we can manage that stress so that we can look after ourselves and those around us, and weather the storm until things return to some sort of normality.
I asked our resident psychologist, Brian Langsworth, to give his top tips on how to manage stress and anxiety during COVID-19. He says it’s important to focus on what’s in your control. At the moment that might not feel like a lot, particularly if you’re struggling to control your thoughts and feelings, but we CAN control how we respond. Here are Brian’s top five tips on how to manage stress and anxiety.
- Recognise Negative Thoughts and Emotions.
- Focus on Key Actions.
- Ensure You Focus on Your Physical and Mental Wellbeing.
- Practice Gratitude.
Recognise Negative Thoughts and Emotions
Start to recognise any negative thoughts and emotions that you may have. Don’t fight with them or try to get rid of them. It’s important to acknowledge these thoughts and feelings. It’s our brain doing what it was designed to do. As Russ Harris, author of the Happiness Trap says, take the stance of a curious scientist, just observing what’s going on in your inner world.
Focus on Key Actions
Focus on key actions and things that are important. The only things we can control are what we do and what we say. So do the things that are important to you. Brian notes one thing a colleague once said to him, the best thing we can do in a crisis, is just “do the next thing”.
Ensure you Focus on your Physical and Mental Wellbeing
Your physical and mental wellbeing should be your number one priority. FHIT by Lauren Hannaford captures both sides of wellbeing and helps you focus on your physical and mental health through 15-minute workout videos that you can do from the comfort of your own home as well as fitness check-ins that allow you to see the progress you make.
Don’t forget to breathe! Brian has shown us a simple exercise to make sure we are being mindful of our breathing here. Have a read and remember to take the time to be calm and focus on yourself for a moment.
Capture two or three things every day that you are grateful for. It’s important to remember the positives and recognise how they make you feel, whether that’s your first cup of coffee in the morning, a message from a friend or how you feel after a workout.
And a bonus tip, always be kind to yourself.