Coping During Covid: Our guide in helping cope with stress and anxiety during the holidays
As Christmas draws closer and the current lockdowns remain in place, it’s becoming quite clear that our ‘Fairytale in New York’ is now more likely to feel like an emphatic ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ Having just finished licking our wounds from a summer of rescheduled weddings, cancelled concerts, closed schools and travel ban turmoil and now we’re told that it could be another few months before we return to normality.
So, you are absolutely right to feel mentally and physically drained! This year has been both unimaginable and unprecedented with more contradictions and content than a Netflix menu.
At this point so far in 2020 we’ve endured a global pandemic, social unease, natural disasters, job cuts, health scares, protests, and a very tense and divisive election. Some of us feel isolated at home alone craving company and some of us feel suffocated from being stuck with an overbearing partner, screaming kids and nowhere to go for our well deserved and needed me-time.
At British American Household Staffing we believe some self-care should be top of our Christmas lists so we are here to offer a guide on managing tension and anxiety throughout the holiday season.
Why do I feel so exhausted?
Everyone responds to stressful situations differently and it can often depend on many factors, from your background, your social circle, your financial situation, your health, and the environment around you.
This pandemonium, which began back in March, saw most of us make the best of what we thought would only last a few weeks. We enthusiastically took to working from home in our pyjamas, baking banana bread, making TikTok dance videos and clapping for our healthcare workers from our doorsteps. But what initially began as a shared sentiment of surreal circumstances, soon progressed into feelings of confusion, stress, anxiety, tension and now despair and depression. For some of us, stages and waves of all of the above.
Who would’ve ever imagined the changes we’ve faced over the last ten months and the restrictions and rules regulating our every move. Just as we were given the green light to reschedule, revisit and reopen, we’re then hit with another government guidance gust of wind thus blowing us backwards again.
At BAHS we value mental health as important as physical health so we felt it was important to remind you that you’re not alone in your feelings during this tense time of uncertainty.
How To Keep Your Children Calm
“When parents are stressed and worried, kids become stressed and worried,” said Dr. Carol Weitzman, a developmental-behavioural pediatrician and the co-director of the Autism Spectrum Center at Boston Children’s Hospital who co-authored the academy’s guidelines. A very poignant quote recently stated by parenting reporter Christina Caron for the NY Times.
As all parents recognise, children are incredibly in-tune with those around them, constantly absorbing and reacting to their tone of voice and facial expressions, as well as the changes in their daily routines. It is therefore crucial to manage your behaviour in particular your stress levels in order for the children to feel safe and calm.
Limit or Avoid Media & Misinformation
Being exposed to constant, concerning and conflicting stories reminds us, and at times convinces us, that there is something to panic about. Examine where your attention is when you feel at your best and at your worst. This will give you an idea of what you’re absorbing and how it’s affecting you, good and bad.
We are completely saturated by news options on several platforms from the moment we wake up and reach for our phones. Yet many of the sources we are reading from are based on myths, rumours, biased opinions and unfounded misinformation, which creates uncertainty and anxiety. Although it might be tempting to stay informed and at times we feel it’s impossible to avoid or escape it, try limiting your exposure to news and social media, especially about the pandemic.
Rationing the amount of time spent online will diminish the unnecessary and unwelcome panic you may be feeling and inevitably the less you absorb, the clearer you will begin to feel once the noise fades. Turn your phone off and your attention on to other things that have a sense of creative purpose, like cooking, arts and crafts, meditation, reorganising your home or catching up on some reading. Then use these as tools to create conversations of interests with those around you to lighten the tone of the topics you may feel are becoming too emotionally charged.
Cleanse Your Life Online & Offline
It’s not just our closets and pantries that benefit from a good clear out. A good lifestyle cleanse can be the best thing for us when life seems to be getting too much, especially when it comes to reorganising who we allow into our headspace. After all, energies are contagious and we soon begin to think and feel like those we surround ourselves with, so choose wisely and don’t be afraid to disconnect from people, pages and publications that aren’t providing you with a good feeling.
Spend an hour clearing out your contacts, email inboxes and social media accounts.
Unfollow those who no longer bring positivity to your life. Unsubscribe to companies and publications that you feel burdened by and get rid of all organisations who constantly press you for donations, votes or reviews. Now notice how instantly lighter you will begin to feel.
Stay Connected with Others
It can make a huge difference when we share our worries with others. Most of the time, the other person feels the same and can relate. Reach out and connect with other people who you consider supportive. Whatever is weighing you down, from financial pressure, conflict with a neighbour or a colleague, a health concern or perhaps your relationship may be unraveling behind closed doors. Open up and talk to someone about it. A conversation can sometimes be the best medicine.
Set Daily Routines
It’s so important and healthy to create and maintain patterns that give us a sense of order, routine and stability.
Set your alarm and create a time to rise and a time to go to bed. This will create a sense of normality and purpose. It will also enable you to create an identity to the days of the week while you’re working from home.
As tempting as it may be to remain in our sweatpants or pyjamas being home all day - Get up, get dressed and get going!
Our brains immediately recognise when we’ve made an aesthetic effort with a shower, some makeup and a splash of perfume and they send signals to our moods. You will begin to feel more motivated and confident when wearing a nice outfit, even if you’re all dressed up with nowhere to go - but to the kitchen!
Set a coffee date with family or friends. Each morning arrange a call with a friend who perhaps lives alone and have your morning coffee together over video chat or a simple phone call. Make it a weekly ritual to look forward to.
Listen to a podcast or an audiobook while you get some fresh air. If you live alone it will keep you company and provide a nice narration for your walk. Studies have shown that being outdoors for even 20-30 minutes each day can significantly reduce cortisol levels therefore lowering our chances of experiencing stress, depression and anxiety. Some fresh air in your lungs and a change of scenery will give us an instant and natural lift to our moods. Plus it costs nothing!
Exercise, even if it’s just a stroll to the grocery store or local park and back. Perhaps taking the dog for a walk or some online yoga via zoom from the comfort of your own home. Just move from the couch and remind your legs that they’re still needed! There’s now an array of online clubs and classes available to join so you may continue your favourite activities.
Start a virtual book club with friends, family or colleagues. Reading a chapter a day and then discussing it over a group chat can help keep you all connected and creatively stimulated.
We are what we eat and drink. So as important as choosing who we invite into our homes, we should be considering what we put into our bodies and how we feel afterwards. Pay attention to what you’ve just digested when you feel low, sluggish or anxious. Cutting down on caffeine and junk food will also help your state of mind and benefit your quality of sleep. As much as a glass of wine or a box of cookies can be wonderful company on an evening, try and limit the treats so your moods aren’t driven by artificial highs and lows. Peppermint tea is perfect for reducing stress and settling your stomach if you feel nauseous and on edge.
While there's no way to remove or avoid stress completely from life, there is a way to manage how we react to it by creating a haven around you with carefully selected people and products to help ease and comfort you at a time of tension.
With stronger minds, we can look to the new year feeling more capable than ever to deal with whatever 2021 has in store for us.
Meditation and self care apps that help benefit mental health:
10 Percent Happier
Books to help with uncertainty and unease:
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
59 Seconds, Think a Little, Change a Lot by Richard Wiseman
Stress-relieving products to help calm your mind and relax your body:
This Works deep sleep pillow spray
Neom moment of calm pod and de-stress range
Sunday of London rooftop garden candle