April marks Stress Awareness Month and according to the Mental health Foundation 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they have felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. As the UK lockdown restrictions begin to ease, it’s normal to feel conflicted between looking forward to having some normality back and the anxiety of adjusting to life again post-lockdown. You might be feeling worried about your health, your loved one's health, returning to or looking for work or being on public transport.
Here are some things you can do to help cope with feelings of stress and anxiety.
Look after your wellbeing:
Taking care of your physical health plays an important part in looking after your mental wellbeing. Try to eat a healthy diet, it’s more important now than ever to make sure you are getting lots of fruits and vegetables into your diet to help protect your immune system. Also making sure you are exercising regularly and getting good quality sleep can be a huge benefit to both physical and mental health. Try some mindfulness techniques too, like reading a good book, meditation, or taking a bath.
Focus of the present:
It’s easy to dwell on the past or future, especially now when you have extra time to sit with your thoughts. With the constant flow of news, media and social media try to keep a focus on the present moment. It's important to remember that each day is a new day, and you are only able to do your best with what you have today.
Let’s try a grounding technique to help bring you back to the present in times of worry or panic.
- Look around and name five things that you can see. For example, a plant, picture or book cover. Think about how that item really looks, notice it’s colours, texture and any specific details, what do you like or dislike about the item?
- Focus on four things that you can touch. For example, the fabric of your trousers, do they feel smooth or rough? Are you sitting on a sofa? How does the cushion feel?
- Name three things that you can hear. You might notice the traffic outside in the background or some dogs barking in the distance.
- Notice two things that you can smell. You may notice the smell of flowers from an open window, or something cooking in the kitchen. If you can't smell anything around you right now, can you find something nearby? Perhaps a perfume bottle, or a candle.
- Focus on one thing that you can taste. If you can't taste anything, why not go and pick something sweet or salty from your kitchen cupboard or carry something in your pocket when out and about, really concentrate on the flavours.
Talk to people you trust:
It's important to talk about your feelings of stress and worry, sharing concerns you might have with someone you trust can be really beneficial for your mental health.
Get out into nature:
Spending time outside in nature and open spaces can have positive effects on your wellbeing. Take some time to get out into nature and experience Spring, the changing colours and blossoming flowers is an indication of warmer weather to come and longer days. It isn’t just daffodils lining our streets, but primroses, hellebores and all sorts of tree blossoms springing into bloom. So why not keep a blossom watch journal?
Have a look at our courses below and try something new:
At the WEA 82% of our students report an increase in mental wellbeing after attending a course. We have over 1,000 courses available so whatever you want to learn, we have the course for you.