The pandemic has shone a spotlight on health and wellbeing. Every day, the news headlines are dominated by facts and figures, and over the course of the last few months, many of us have thought more about our health. The Covid-19 crisis has affected people in different ways, but for most of us, it has made us more aware of the importance of trying to protect our bodies and minds. If you’re looking for ways to put your health first and improve both physical and mental wellbeing, you’ll find helpful tips in this guide.
Anxiety levels have risen across the world, as we come to terms with a crisis, which has affected millions of people. For those who already experienced anxiety, symptoms have got worse. For many who have never struggled with anxiety before, it has become increasingly difficult to unwind and switch off and worry seems to permeate the air. It’s natural to experience a level of anxiety when faced with terrifying news headlines and an uncertain future, but there is a difference between feeling anxious and developing anxiety. If you have anxiety, you find it very difficult to find serenity and calm, your mind is often overactive and you feel on edge in scenarios and settings where the vast majority of people feel at ease.
If you are experiencing anxiety related to Covid-19 or the side-effects, for example, money worries, being unable to see elderly or sick relatives, feeling lonely or isolated or worrying about whether you’ll keep your job, it’s important to understand that you’re not alone. There is help out there, and there are many other people who are in the same boat. Reach out to friends and family virtually if you’re unable to see them face-to-face, keep in touch with colleagues and neighbors and try to devote time to activities or hobbies that help you to relax. Creative hobbies can be particularly beneficial if you find it tough to talk about how you feel, or you’re worried that you can’t control your emotions or express yourself. Drawing, painting and modeling, writing, playing music, baking and reading can all be therapeutic and cathartic. It’s also beneficial to try and exercise regularly and to get out into the fresh air at least once a day.
One of the most common causes of anxiety during the pandemic is the consumption of news and social media content. If you find that watching bulletins, scrolling through Twitter or reading articles related to the pandemic stress you out or make you feel more anxious, limit your screen time and be selective about the news sources or sites you use. There is a lot of misinformation out there, and some sites will use headlines to attract attention, rather than to inform people about the facts.
Stress management and boosting mental health
Stress is a feature of modern-day life, but there’s no doubt that stress levels are rising for many. With uncertainty linked to jobs and the economy, fear over a second or third wave of Covid-19 cases and financial pressures, stress is rife. When dealing with stress, it’s crucial to understand the impact. Stress can make you feel like you’re swimming against the tide, but it also has negative effects on your body. If you’re under pressure, you’re not sleeping and you’re worried all the time, your appetite may change, you’ll become more irritable, you might feel exhausted and you could be at risk of developing skin issues, high blood pressure and changes in your bowel habits. There are several self-help techniques you can employ to manage stress and boost your mental health, including regular exercise, establishing a sleep routine, taking time to unwind and relax and talking about how you feel. It can also be hugely beneficial to seek advice and ask for help if there are specific issues that are causing stress, for example, money problems. Spend time and surround yourself with people who make you feel good and use your time wisely. Don’t sit inside and scroll for hours, reading stories or social media posts that incite anxiety and induce restlessness. Go out for a walk, read a book, catch up with a friend, learn a new skill or get around to crossing those DIY jobs you’ve been meaning to do for months off your list. It’s important to seek medical advice if you’re struggling with severe or long-term stress.
Have you ever noticed that your skin seems to bear the brunt of a bout of stress or a sleepless night? Your skin is the largest organ in the body, and it’s one of the most important natural defense mechanisms. Providing a barrier to shield your body from the elements, the skin is exposed to all kinds of potential threats and hazards. Looking after your skin is crucial at any time, but if you’ve noticed that the condition of your skin has deteriorated since the Covid-19 outbreak, it’s particularly important to take action. If your skin is dry, irritable or itchy, you seem to have outbreaks more frequently, or you’re drawn to dark circles every time you look in the mirror, there are some simple solutions. Hormones will affect your skin, but stress can also exacerbate skin issues, especially if it is contributing to a lack of sleep. There are also several possible back and chest acne causes, including exercise. If you’ve upped your activity levels during lockdown, take care to cleanse your skin and wash your workout clothes on a regular basis. It’s also beneficial to wear relatively loose tops while working out so that the material doesn’t cling to your body. Opt for natural skincare products and keep your skin hydrated. Aim to drink at least 2 liters of water per day and use lightweight serums, lotions and oils to nourish your skin. Many of us tend to reach for heavyweight moisturizers for dry or irritated skin, especially in the winter, but this can be counterproductive.
If you’ve had trouble sleeping during the pandemic, you’re not alone. Research suggests that insomnia has become more prevalent during the crisis. Sleep is vital for optimal physical and mental health. While you rest at night, your body goes through critical processes, which are designed to restore and repair cells. If you’re prone to sleep troubles, there are steps you can take. One of the most beneficial changes you can make is adapting your evening routine. Take time to relax and avoid doing anything that could stress you out or make you feel anxious before you go to bed. Run a bath, chat to friends or relatives, listen to soothing music, curl up with a good book, watch TV or have a cuddle with your pet. Set yourself times to go to bed and get up and stick to the same times each day. This will help your body clock to adjust. Make your bedroom a calm space. Use soft lighting, block out noise and light and add touches, such as cushions, throws and rugs, to create a cozy, serene ambiance. Avoid checking your phone once you get into bed. If you find it hard to doze off, you could try reading, listening to relaxing music or using apps that are designed to help you sleep. It’s also wise to cut out caffeine in the evenings and to exercise daily, preferably during the mornings or early afternoons.
Your diet affects every element of your health and wellbeing. Aim to consume nutritious, delicious meals that are packed with vitamins and minerals and moderate your intake of salt, sugar and saturated fats. Use an app or a food diary to check your intake of key food groups and nutrients and try to avoid processed foods. You can find hundreds of quick and simple recipes online if you’re pushed for time. Try and adopt a healthy eating plan, rather than fixating on a diet and avoid cutting out food groups. Your diet should be balanced and you should have enough fuel in the tank to get through the day. Eating well doesn’t have to mean giving up everything you love. There’s nothing wrong with having a slice of cake or pizza on a Friday night.
The pandemic has made many of us think about putting our health first. Hopefully, this guide will help you protect your health and wellbeing.