We are currently living through a pandemic, the effects of which can extend beyond our health. Financial troubles, work problems and other worries could also be weighing you down. Stress and tension may be high. This is why nurturing your mental health is more important than ever before.
Here are a few simple tips and reminders that can help you get through this period:
- Be aware – Recognize your symptoms of stress. This could be different for each person. Some get frequent headaches or muscle pain. Others become anxious or depressed.
- Check your lifestyle – Look at your lifestyle and see what can be changed – in your work situation, your family situation or your schedule.
- Use relaxation techniques – Yoga, meditation, deep breathing, or massage.
- Exercise – Physical activity is one of the most effective stress remedies around!
- Time management – Do essential tasks and prioritize the others. Consider those who may be affected by your decisions, such as family and friends. Use a check list; you will receive satisfaction as you check off completed jobs!
- Watch your diet – Alcohol, caffeine, sugar, fats and tobacco all put a strain on your body’s ability to cope with stress. A diet with a balance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and foods high in protein but low in fat will help create optimum health. Contact your local Heart and Stroke Foundation for information about healthy eating.
- Recharge – Get enough rest and sleep.
- Talk with others – Talk with friends, professional counsellors, support groups or relatives about what’s bothering you.
- Help others – Volunteer work can be an effective and satisfying stress reducer.
- Get away for a while – Read a book, watch a movie, play a game, or listen to music. Leave yourself some time that’s just for you.
- Work off your anger – Get physically active, dig in the garden, start a project, or get your spring cleaning done.
- Give in occasionally – Avoid quarrels whenever possible.
- Tackle one thing at a time – Don’t do too much at once.
- No undue pressure on yourself – Don’t try to be perfect.
- Don’t be critical – Ease up on criticism of others.
- Play nice – Don’t be too competitive.
- HAVE SOME FUN!! Laugh with people you enjoy!
When you are under stress, tension accumulates in your neck and jaw. Take a minute to gently and slowly move your head from front to back, side to side and in a full circle. For your jaw, stretch your mouth open and slowly move your lower jaw from side to side and front to back. (NOTE: If you notice pain or if you have had any injuries to your back, neck or jaw, check with your doctor first.)
Set a SMART Goal (and achieve it!)
Unrealistic goals that never seem to be reached add to your stress level. Try setting one goal for yourself this week using the SMART approach:
Specific – Pick one small goal and write it down.
Measurable – Can you count it or check it off a list?
Achievable – Is it realistic? If not, make it smaller.
Rewarded – Reward yourself when you reach your goal.
Time-limited – Set a specific, realistic date to finish or achieve your goal.
Comedy Break – Laugh at Stress
Set aside some time for laughter, your body’s natural stress release mechanism. Rent your favourite comedy movie, record a TV show that you know makes you laugh (and keep it on hand for stress emergencies), read the daily comics in the newspaper or call the funniest person you know!
Mental Health Virtual Therapy Program (AbilitiCBT)
Your mental health is important; never be ashamed to get help. The Mental Health Virtual Therapy Program (AbilitiCBT) for Manitobans is a free service to those experiencing low to mid symptoms of anxiety due to the pandemic. Help is delivered by a therapist through a digital platform using your smartphone or tablet. Go to the AbilitiCBT Program page know more about it and to sign up.
Instead of sitting down for another cup of stress-inducing caffeine, go for a stress relieving and energizing walk. If you don’t like walking by yourself, walk with your dog, your partner or kid. Make sure to observe physical distancing when outside.
Article updated July 14, 2020.
Adapted from the Mental Health Resource Guide. Reprinted with permission from the Canadian Mental Health Association (Manitoba and Winnipeg).
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