At times of change and stress, it's easy to let your wellbeing take a backseat. But the first step in being able to cope with change-related stress is by listening to and meeting your own needs.
There are lots of small, daily things you can do to give you the best chance of changing your life or coping with constant change.
Take control of your time:
Now that many of us are working from home, it can be easy for the days to blend into one. By planning out your day and making sure you include activities to support your wellbeing, you’ll feel more in control and can take a proactive approach to boosting your mental and physical health.
There are two parts to staying active: getting enough exercise and avoiding too much sedentary time. The NHS recommends that adults get 150 minutes of exercise a week - that’s about 20-30 minutes a day. Try searching YouTube for an at-home workout that you like. Avoid too much sedentary time by taking regular breaks from work or watching tv.
Be conscious of negative thought patterns and worrying:
There’s a lot of scary news out there at the moment. Surrounded by these stories and with additional stresses like worrying about friends and family or juggling working from home with childcare, it’s easy to get stuck in negative thought patterns. There are lots of different types of negative thought patterns - take a look at this page on unhelpful thinking habits for more information on the different styles and how you can combat them: https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/unhelpful.htm
Stay in touch with your support network:
We’re social creatures so being isolated from others is really difficult. Take the opportunity to try out new ways of staying in touch, like having dinner together via video call or a virtual games night. Having that support from friends and family is essential for our mental health.
Avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms:
When we’re feeling a bit low or stressed, it’s easy to turn to supposed ‘quick fixes’ like alcohol or smoking. Whilst these things might help us feel better for a moment, they can have a negative impact on our physical and mental health - remember, alcohol is a depressant. Make sure your routine includes positive ways to boost your mental health so that you don’t feel tempted by quick fixes.
Get the basics right:
When we’re overtired, it can be even harder to deal with stressful situations. Try keeping the time you wake up and go to bed consistent to make sure you’re getting enough rest. Staying hydrated is also important: being dehydrated can affect everything from mood to memory. If you’re struggling to drink eight glasses of water a day, try keeping a water chart or downloading an app to prompt you when you need to drink.
Mindfulness is a powerful tool for coping with ongoing change in life. Mindfulness means taking notice of your thoughts and feelings and what’s going on in the world around you to help you stay in the present. By focusing on the present moment, you’re less likely to feel anxious or stressed. Professor Mark Williams, previously the director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, describes mindfulness as "allowing ourselves to see the present moment clearly. When we do that, it can positively change the way we see ourselves and our lives."
Talk to others about how you’re feeling:
When we try to keep worries to ourselves they can go round and round in our heads, increasing our stress levels. Sharing how you feel about change isn't necessarily about asking others for advice; talking it through can allow you to come to realisations yourself or understand what is needed.