AdobeStock 299376132 1I think its fair to say that 2020 / 21 will go down as one of the most stressful years in our collective history.  Maybe you were a frontline worker, or perhaps you had to juggle home schooling and a full-time job, or deal with the isolation of living alone. 

Whatever your circumstances, there were very few of us who escaped without additional challenges to face.  Changes to our routines at home and at work, coupled with a reduced chance to socialise and relax with friends and family all contributed. 

And now here we all are, easing slowly out of our bubbles and back into everyday life – which can be stressful in itself!  Mary Colvin, a long-term member of LAL's volunteer Board of Directors has worked in healthcare for over 30 years. She explained;

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on all of us, and it is important to take time to recognise the tell-tale signs of stress. 

“Stress can show up in lots of different ways, affecting you both physically and mentally, as well as making you behave differently.  Symptoms such as headaches, nausea, sweating, and aches and pains could be stress related and you may also feel anxious or have trouble sleeping.

“Recognising that you may be stressed is often the hardest but most important step to take – once you’ve done this you can start to take steps to turn things around. 

“Simple lifestyle changes and talking to someone you trust can go a long way to helping you feel more like your old self.

“And remember, it is okay to not be okay. There is a great deal of help available, and we’ve included some links at the bottom if you feel you need a bit more support.”

Next Steps

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Now is a perfect time to breathe deeply, reassess your situation and think about the some of those lifestyle changes and ways in which you can address things.  

Small, positive steps in the right direction can make big differences and you will be amazed at how much better you might feel by weaving some of these ideas into your everyday life. 

NHS Tayside recently issued some tips for stress as part of Stress Awareness month and we’ve used these here to Here are five simple steps that people can take to help reduce feelings of stress:

1. Eat healthily – A healthy diet can improve your mood. Be mindful about what you are eating and think about balance and moderation. View the Eat Well Guide for tips on eating a healthy diet. 

2. Exercise – physical activity can help manage the effects of stress by producing endorphins that boost your mood. Even small amounts of exercise can make a difference. 

Why not download the 6-week back into exercise plan that we’ve created to help everyone ease back into a regular routine. This is a simple plan that suits all levels of fitness and we know you'll get a lot out of it!.

If you’re still feeling uncertain about getting back into venues then do click onto our free resources via our At Home Hub which we will continue to offer. And of course, it doesn’t have to be a strenuous workout, you could go for a long walk, do some work in the garden, or have a dance around your kitchen. It all helps!

3. Take time out – take time to relax and practice self-care, where you do positive things for yourself. Think about what helps you relax and make time to do something just for you. Visit www.clearyourhead.scot for advice and support.

4. Be mindful – Mindfulness meditation can be practiced anywhere at any time. Mindfulness involves paying attention to our thoughts and feelings in a way that increases our ability to manage difficult situations and make wise choices.

5. Get enough sleep – Regularly getting a good night’s sleep is very important to good mental health. Around seven to eight hours is the average amount of sleep an adult needs for their body and mind to fully rest.  When you don’t get enough sleep, it can contribute to a range of problems, including depression and anxiety. If you’re having difficulty sleeping, you can try to reduce the amount of caffeine you consume and avoid too much screen time before bed.

Mary also offered a simple reminder:“Don’t be too hard on yourself – Try to keep things in perspective and take a few minutes each day to appreciate yourself and look for things in your life that are positive.

“If you continue to feel overwhelmed by stress, please contact your GP to discuss how you are feeling and get advice on possible treatment options.

Support Resources

You can visit NHS Tayside’s online self-help mental health directory, which includes a list of mental health support and advice organisations, resources both in Tayside and nationally.  The directory is also available to view on NHS Tayside’s Living Life Well at www.nhstayside.scot.nhs.uk

 Or, check out this neat little video from Headspace. 

Finally, make sure to keep yourself motivated by following LAL on Facebook for daily bursts of gymspiration!