Doctor's top tips to reduce lockdown stress and anxiety
Registered doctor at leading telehealth service InstantScripts, Dr Andrew Thompson, shares the tips to help reduce lockdown stress and anxiety:
1. Get active
Lockdowns and restrictions can cause major disruptions to your usual routine, making it difficult to stay motivated. However, setting aside time to exercise can be hugely beneficial to both mental and physical wellbeing. Whether it is doing some yoga in your living room, a walk around the block, or some exercise in the garden, even in small bursts, exercise can release the endorphins needed to lower stress and anxiety and balance your mood while in isolation.
2. Learn how to switch off
As lockdowns force many of us to bring the office into our homes, the lack of separation between the two can become particularly stressful. Work can often trickle into your usual leisure time, as the temptation to check emails in the evening or over the weekend can be difficult to resist. It is important to set yourself boundaries and ensure that you are giving yourself time to unwind in the evenings. Try to clock off at a reasonable time, get settled in your favourite PJs, trackies or Oodie, put the kettle on and relax with a book or TV program. It is also important to have a dedicated space in your home for conducting work, to produce a clearer separation between work and leisure.
3. Rekindle a hobby to stay motivated
This time indoors can be an opportunity to return to the hobbies you took up during last year’s lockdown. Whether you turned to fitness, DIY, painting or sewing, spend some time on the fun activities you enjoyed last year and keep your mind active.
4. Stay social
Lockdowns can be isolating, and while you won’t be able to physically interact with anyone outside your household, this isn’t the be all and end all to your social life. Socialise with family and friends over group Facetime or Zoom calls, have fun catching up over a game or meal, or host a virtual dance party. Your social circle and relatives can also be a vital support network to turn to during times of stress or anxiety. If you live by yourself, consider taking advantage of the singles bubble to get some much-needed face-time with a loved one or friend.
5. Adopt a relaxing sleep routine and schedule
Many of us are working remotely, studying or dealing with a job loss during this period, and it can be easy to fall into irregular sleeping patterns. A lack of quality sleep is often directly correlated with increased feelings of stress and anxiety, leading to overall poorer mental wellbeing. It is important to establish a good sleep schedule, by sticking to consistent wake and sleep times and aiming to get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Doing a relaxing activity, such as yoga or reading, and reducing screen time before bed, can also help you settle into a routine and encourage better quality sleep.
6. It’s okay not to be okay
The pandemic has thrown many of us into challenging situations we have never had to deal with before. Check in with yourself regularly. If you find that your feelings of stress and anxiety are impacting energy, concentration, and overall quality of life, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone for additional support. It is okay to admit when you are struggling and to ask for help from a friend, relative or medical professional. Services such as Lifeline (13 11 14) and BeyondBlue (1300 22 4436) also offer 24/7 counselling and support.
What have you done to reduce lockdown stress and anxiety?