New research suggests that more than half of us are suffering from stress, anxiety and other mental health issues because of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you want to feel better quickly then try these four easy ways to get back in control of your health and happiness
Hi, Joe here. I hope your week is going really well. Unfortunately, the odds are that it isn’t. That’s because more than half of UK workers now say that their mental health has deteriorated since lockdown was announced on March 23rd. The research, conducted by the Mental Health Foundation and professional networking site LinkedIn, found that 56% of us feel more anxious and stressed than ever. And it’s little wonder given that the world as we know it has been turned upside down.
Long-term, or chronic, stress is incredibly bad for both our mental health and physical health, and is one of the biggest factors behind lower levels of happiness and life satisfaction. And while the tips below are not meant to be a one-stop-shop solution to many of the uncertainties and worries we all have right now, I hope that by trying them out you will notice a little uptick in how good you feel and a slight reduction in your stress levels. As always, if you have any questions or want to share some of your tried-and-tested stress-busting tips with me – so I can share it with the rest of the New Body Plan club, just drop me a line at email@example.com.
1 Write down your worries
This is number one on the list for good reason – there’s no simpler or easier way to reduce stress than by writing down what’s worrying you. All you need to do, ideally at the onset of any anxiety, is grab a pen and paper and write down the source of your stress. The super-simple act of committing your concern to a piece of paper can help get it out of your head, and so stop it whizzing around and around until you can’t think of anything else. You can even jot down a few potential solutions to the problem, or repeat to yourself some positive or motivational words or sayings to help your mind rebalance away from wholly negative thoughts. It sounds too easy to work, right? That’s what I thought until I tried it, and I think you’ll feel the same once you give it a go!
2 Keep a gratitude list
Much like the previous tip, this one is easy to do and requires almost zero effort – but it can pay off in a big way to make you feel as happy and positive as possible. Simply write down one thing – and it can be absolutely anything – for which you are truly grateful. Big, small, serious, funny – it doesn’t matter, so long as it’s something that warms your heart. You can do it first thing in the morning, any time during the day you need a quick stress-busting buzz, or last thing at night before bed, which makes sense if you’ve had trouble sleeping: people who keep a nightly gratitude journal sleep on average for 30 minutes longer than those who don’t, according to the Journal of Psychosomatic Research.
3 Limit your screen time
At the moment it’s almost impossible to flick through the TV channels or scroll through social media and not be bombarded with bad news. It feels like it’s everywhere with hardly any feel-good stories for balance. As a journalist I read, listen and watch a lot of news and analysis – but I’ve had to dramatically reduce my exposure in the past week or two because I noticed how much it was making me unhappy. So now I check the newspapers first thing, only go on to social media three times a day (and then just to check my notifications and messages), and no longer listen to news or current affairs radio in favour of stations that play the kind of music that makes me feel good. At night in bed I’ve started reading paper books rather than scrolling social and I genuinely believe I’m sleeping a bit better. Research supports this: subjects who read a book fall asleep 30 minutes sooner than those who read on a phone or tablet, says a report in the Psychological Reports journal.
4 Have a half-hour chill-out
We’ve all got a lot on our plates right now, from working from home, to schooling the kids to any number of equally important – and time and energy-zapping – responsibilities. So while it seems that you don’t have a single spare second in which to take a little time out just for yourself, the overwhelming number of things you have to do each day means it’s vital that you MUST set aside a 30-minute window to do an activity you enjoy and find relaxing. Doing so will build up your tolerance to stress so you can better deal with problems as they arise, and it will increase your motivation and productivity so you can tick off your to-do list quickly and easily (and so free up more time to do fun things with your family). You could do a quick workout to release some feel-good endorphins, have a soak in the bath, read a book, play your guitar – it can be anything so long as it’s relaxing and rewarding. After all, if you start taking better care of yourself you’ll be better able to take care of everything else.
Our promise to you
We understand that working out at home on your own has its challenges – that’s why we offer unlimited online support for everyone who signs up to do their own New Body Plan.
If you have any questions about these plans, or any other of the New Body Plan range of training programmes, just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org – I am here to help!
New Body Plan editorial director