Ways to reduce stress during the coronavirus pandemic
This article is adapted from a piece previously published on Beyond Blue’s website
With COVID-19 bringing uncertainty and challenges we’ve never faced before, it’s completely natural if your stress levels have gone up. Here are some ways to help reduce stress.
Stress is a common response to tough events or situations, and the coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented challenge that is placing many of us under a lot of strain.
Some stress is normal and stress itself is not anxiety or depression. However, severe and ongoing stress can be a risk factor for mental health conditions if it persists. During this worrying and challenging time, managing your stress levels should be a priority.
Ways to reduce stress
- Postpone major life change
Making major changes in your life can be stressful at any time, but this is especially relevant at the moment. If you’re already feeling stressed or anxious, it’s best to avoid or delay significant events if possible. If you’ve had to cancel or postpone important events due to the coronavirus pandemic, try to keep things in perspective and remember that this time will pass and normal life will resume.
- Resolve personal conflicts
Stress in personal relationships can be a major contributor to anxiety and depression, and any issues may be under the magnifying glass while we’re all being asked to stay at home. Learning how to communicate honestly with people and address problems or conflicts as they arise is important. A counsellor or psychologist can help you find ways to work through your problems. Relationships Australia is another great resource and they are continuing to deliver services through telephone, online and videoconferencing – not face-to-face – during the coronavirus pandemic. The relationships section of the Beyond Blue forums also contains a lot of valuable advice and personal stories from other people who are dealing with relationship issues.
- Do the things you enjoy
Take your mind off your worries by making sure you allow plenty of time for enjoyable activities. This could include listening to music, reading, gardening, spending time connecting with family and friends online, making your friends care packages and writing letters. Try doing something creative or learning a new craft. Starting a project, like making a gift for a friend, can provide a goal to work towards and give you a great sense of achievement when complete.
- Control your workload
Work plays a big role in our lives, but it’s important to have a sustainable work-life balance, particularly if you’re working from home while trying to home school children due to the coronavirus. If work is increasing your stress levels, avoid long hours and additional responsibilities, and learn to say ‘no’ more often.
- Exercise regularly
Physical exercise can help relieve tension and relax your mind. Try to do some physical exercise every day, even if it’s just going for a (social distancing-appropriate) walk around the block or doing some star jumps in your backyard. There are plenty of great online workouts available which are great for both your physical and mental health.
- Get support
Simply talking to someone such as a friend, doctor or counsellor can help relieve stress. Don’t be afraid to ask for support.
- Remember to relax
Incorporating breathing and muscle relaxation exercises into your daily routine may be helpful. They can also be used as short-term coping strategies. Some people find meditation or yoga a good way to unwind. This article by Smiling Mind explains how mindfulness can help during the coronavirus
Stay well informed
Financial hardship and redundancy
Losing your job or getting into financial difficulty are common stress triggers, and amid the coronavirus outbreak, this is happening to a lot of people. If you’re facing financial difficulties, it’s important to find out what your options are. For information and services provided by the Australian government, please visit Services Australia . If you are experiencing financial hardship, National Debt Helpline offers free financial counselling.
Health concerns for yourself or a loved one
Right now, more than ever, it’s completely natural to be worried about your health and the health of your family and friends. It is important that you stay well informed and only access information from reputable sources. This will help you maintain perspective and keep stress levels in check. We recommend:
Health Direct – Coronavirus (COVID-19) : Health Direct have also developed a COVID-19 Symptom Checker - an online, self-guided tool to help people find out if they need to seek medical help.
Try to stay calm
Do your best to stay calm and follow official advice, particularly around observing good hygiene habits and looking after your mental health.
The Australian Pychological society has advised about maintaining positive mental health during the pandemic.