With what is currently going on in the world and how it has drastically changed the reality for all of us in some way or another, I thought now is the time to talk about fear. None of us know what the world is going to look like in 6 months from now or even years and whether this is the beginning of a new reality. This can be scary for many people, especially those who suffer with mental health anyway.
Scare tactics, making people fearful to move or do basic everyday things, Watching the news and taking every word as gospel truth, chinese whispers, conspiracy theories and so much is flying around us everywhere we look at the minute. It can be hard to find peace, calm and truth in so many things that you might find your mind is working in overdrive. The amount of information we have access to due to the ease if using the internet can in turn become a negative experience and maybe it is something we need to address on an individual level. How much of this are you consuming? How much of this are you believing or delving deep into? Are you doing your own fact finding and if so, does this help?
A Study done by the Mental Health Foundation has found some interesting facts, particular around young adults, people suffering with physical disabilities and other various groups of people in our community. What I found interesting is how young adults (18 to 25) seem to be not coping more than those in older groups. I have found that the people around me have open expressed concern for their older loved ones and this, according to the study, seems to be more of a worry from the younger people than the older generation who aren't worries as much.
Coming from a Sport Therapist background, on my return to work, I have noticed an increase in stress and anxiety related physical symptoms which are now affecting my clients. Many people are now coming in because they are experiencing new pain symptoms they have never had before ranging from stomach pain, lower back pain, tension headaches, stiffness in the neck and shoulder area and finding it difficult to get full movements from joints. This may very well be from the physical restrictions that lockdown has caused us all, it may be from people working at home in settings not great for office work, it might be the strenuous work of looking after someone. It is not until I get chatting to clients that I begin to hear a pattern from many people in terms of attitude and behaviour and how they are coping with new ways of life. As they start talking about it, you can physically see how they hold themselves, how the posture changes, the facial expressions, the position of shoulders and generally look. What I am trying to say is stress is not just a mental health but it does become a physical health issue too.
We may not be consciously able to control this reaction to stress but we can change habits and behaviours in our day to day to try and reduce stress factors without ignoring the fact that it is normal to react this way but it is not ok to carry around with you all the time.
Here are a few things that you can do to try and reduce your stress levels, to try and take control of what you can control, to try and release negative energy and thoughts of feeling overwhelmed and hopeless.
Reduce media time - An obvious one but it does help. Some people go for a complete full media blackout for 24 hours and feel so much better for it. For you it might be a case of not following the news for a couple of days or staying away from social media. Do a reduction that pushes your boundaries a little bit but doesn't send you into a deeper anxiety or stress state.
Take a cold shower - Cold water whether you have a shower, bath, jump into a lake, cryotherapy, massaging with ice, all have great affects on not just your mental health but your immune system too. Their are tonnes of benefits to regularly taking a cold shower or similar so why not give it a try? I turn the hot shower into a cold one every morning before I get out, leave it cold for 5 minutes and focus on my breathing. It makes me feel invigorated for the day and has increased my productivity levels tenfold.
Stay away from energy drainers - Their will be people in your life who literally suck the life out of you. Sometimes you can not avoid these people (might be family or people you look after) but you can try to reduce the time you spend with them. you might be friends with people from school who you have stayed friends with just because of that fact that you went to school together. You don't have to! People change all the time and this is not a bag thing, life is one big forever development. If you have grown apart from people then maybe it's time to say goodbye. Might sound harsh but you need to spend time around people who inspire you, give you the drive to succeed, to feel good about yourself and in turn you do the same for them.
Self Care - This is not selfish, if anything it is the complete opposite. If you are a care giver and you are sick, how are you supposed to look after those around you? Make sure you are ok first before trying to help others. You can do this in various ways, it could be as little as getting your nails done, making a nice meal, going for a massage, spending time out on your own, doing exercise, painting, taking photographs of flowers, anything that gives you time to enjoy your own space.
Do something that pushes your adrenaline or excites you - Releasing adrenaline can feel like a mental health reset for some people. Their are many studies around adrenaline and worth looking into if you have the time and are interested. As an example cold showers get your adrenaline going so you could see how things makes you feel and go from their. Other things I would suggest are Screaming in the back garden at the top of your voice, going climbing, holding a spider (if you are scared) or trying to eat something spicy (if you have the stomach for it).
Fasting - Clearing your gut can help the body deal with stress for those who feel it in their gut. Fasting has many benefits but it is worth looking into this a bit ore to see what type works for you. I have personally tried the 18:6 fast (fasting 18 hours and eating for 6) which I did for 2 months. Benefits included having more energy, never feeling bloated, being mindful about my meals and I drank a lot more water so my skin was glowing. It can be difficult to do if you are training but it can be done. Give it a try and see what happens
Swap alcohol or binge eating for a healthier mindful choice - I have said alcohol and binge eating because most people I know will do one or the other or even both during a stressful time. Many of us our out of routine, even still now so the only thing that is constant and needs to be done daily is eat. Alcohol intake seems to be a food for thought now too as many people think they have nothing else to do. Keeping a food diary works for some people and looking back at the week at what you ate, when you ate it, can be a reality check. Same with alcohol consumption and you could write how you felt the moment you started having a drink that day. By facing the thoughts and feelings you had during these moments of indulgence, you might find that you start to see patterns in your attitude and behaviour that triggered you to go off track. I found during lockdown I drank when I didn't want to because I was hiding from the fact that I wasn't able to work on my business or didn't want to focus. This can be a bad action which becomes a habit if you don't address it.
Talk to someone who could help you - This could be a close friend who you trust, it could be a stranger or a counsellor. Many people like to come in and talk to me about their thoughts, feelings, frustrations, things that have happened and incidents during a massage. From experience, it seems to be a good way to release trapped energy from both the body and mind and my clients leave feeling like a weight has been lifted from them.
Try to become self aware - When you wake up in the morning, notice your body, notice where your thoughts are and acknowledge it but don't let it become you. Wiggle your toes and from their take not of how your body feels from their upwards. Have you got any pains points, are you tensing your hips, shoulders or arms? Do the morning thoughts take over you? Can you let them thoughts pass through your morning routine? If you wake up overwhelmed from a bad dream or by the thought of the day, try and breath it out and let the thoughts come and go through your mind as you go about your morning routine.
Learn to love who you are - None of us are perfect and you may never reach this idea you have for yourself or your future. Learn to love yourself, what you do, who you are, what your traits are, how you look, how you might be a hot head sometimes but a loving person, how you might not be the image you see on instagram but you are still a beautiful person. We are all different and learning to accept your own individuality has to come first so you can then learnt to accept others. If their are parts of you that you absolutely hate and can change, maybe you express anger and want to address it, then do so with help and guidance. Behaviours and reactions don't define you so changing a few things as such won't mean you lose yourself.
I may have gone off tangent a bit here but I hope you find this info useful and I would love to hear about any advice you have taken from this and how it has affected/changed you.