As April is Stress Awareness Month, Tina Wixon shares five ideas to help you take care of your mental wellbeing in these trying times.
The list of things that can cause us to be stressed seems never-ending these days. As if the pressures of dentistry weren’t enough, the world seems to keep throwing unprecedented events at us so we may not even feel able to find the escape we need in our lives outside of work.
This much doom and gloom can ramp up your stress levels and take its toll on our mental health and wellbeing, so it’s important to remember to take care of yourself. If you needed convincing of this, think back to the last time you were on an aeroplane. The advice during the pre-flight safety drill is always to make sure you put on your own oxygen mask before trying to help someone else. Why? Because if you’re not in good shape, how can you care for others? With that in mind, here are five things you can do to improve your mental wellbeing and help you feel less stressed.
Take a break
One of the simplest things is to just take a break. If something is really ramping up your stress levels, step away from it for a short while. You could do something completely different from the thing that was stressing you, such as going and having a chat with someone or taking a short walk. Whatever you choose, taking a break can help you put things in perspective and take some of the sting out of a situation.
Do some exercise
Exercise doesn’t have to be particularly vigorous to be good for you. If running from Land’s End to John O’ Groats is relaxing for you, then go ahead, but a walk in your local park or the countryside can be just as beneficial.
Gentle exercises like yoga or Pilates are great ways of de-stressing too. You don’t necessarily need to go to a class for them either as there are plenty of online instructors who can guide you through a workout. Swimming is also a great low-impact exercise. As well as alleviating stress, a 20-minute swim gives you a full-body workout and works your cardiovascular system too.
Do something you enjoy
Whether it’s ringing a friend, cooking a meal, reading an entertaining book or listening to music, spending some time doing something you enjoy is a great way to decompress and reduce your stress levels. You could even take up a hobby or learn a new skill. As long as it’s something that brings you enjoyment, then the choice is up to you.
Spend time outdoors
Being in the countryside or at the beach can have really positive effects upon our wellbeing. Walking outdoors has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce the production of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Being surrounded by greenery has a calming effect and is a great way to get things back on an even keel.
Give yourself a break from screen time
We all need to check emails and social media in the evening sometimes. However, it’s easy to spend ages online, especially with so much in the news at the moment. But constantly doom scrolling can add more stress and make things worse. All the guides about good sleep hygiene recommend putting down our tech at least an hour before we go to bed. So, give yourself a screen break. Either leave your phone in another room or set an alarm but try to make sure you’re off your phone at least an hour before bedtime so you can unwind and relax.
I hope you find these hints useful. If you find you can’t manage all five, then choose one or two you think you can fit into your life. Even making some small changes could help make an improvement to your wellbeing. If you’d like to know more about improving your mental wellbeing there’s plenty of information on mental health charity, MIND’s website www.mind.org.uk.
To find out more about Stress Awareness Month visit the Stress Management Society’s website and take their 30-Day Challenge.