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Top tips to reduce stress and remain positive during the uncertainty of COVID-19

Staying positive during a global pandemic seems entirely oxymoronic. How does someone stay upbeat while uncertainty reigns and anxiety levels fly ever higher? Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen consistent warnings that mental health is being negatively impacted by the pandemic, with reports of anxiety and depression continuing to rise in people of all ages and creeds. So, how do you reduce stress and keep yourself positive in such an abnormal time? We’ve collected together some top tips and little steps that you can take to stay positive and reduce stress during the coronavirus pandemic.

Limit your news consumption

It might seem entirely counter-productive to tell you to reduce how often you look at the news and, by proxy, social media – but it really can help. In the technological age, we are constantly plugged into the world around us and often, we never really switch off. When things seem at their worst, we can find ourselves being sucked into timelines and feeds. If you can, try to limit how often you check the news during the day – whether that’s by only catching up once a day or giving yourself small, fifteen minute periods to catch up before doing other things. The same rule can go with social media.

Download an app or two

Whether you’re looking for a little escapism or some guided stress relief, there are lots of excellent mobile apps specifically designed to help you reduce stress and do some self-care. Apps like Calm and Headspace have guided meditations and sleep stories – which are especially useful if you’re struggling to sleep – designed to keep you calm or calm you down. For those who want a game to disappear into, downloading virtual colouring apps or even soothing games like Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp or Cooking Mama will take your mind off of the real world for a little while as you play.

Keeping a routine

When you’re stuck in a low mood or feeling anxious, it can be difficult to feel like doing anything. But keeping a structure to your day – no matter how loose – could help you stay calm and reduce stress. For some people, long periods where they’re not sure what’s coming next can increase anxiety levels or cause symptoms of depression. Make a list of things you want to do during the day – the items can be as simple as ‘have breakfast’ or ‘take a shower’. Try to eat at a similar time each day to help structure the time and set aside time to work on a project or a hobby – or even enjoy a book or your favourite TV show. Keeping a routine does not always mean keeping busy!

Have an action plan

Things are changing at a record pace right now and it can seem as though the rules are different every day. When things change quickly and you’re not expecting it, it can cause more anxiety and stress in people. Create an action plan for what to do if you find things becoming overwhelming. This could mean having people that you can reach out to who can help, having a self-care routine to distract you or just having breathing and anti-anxiety exercises to provide a quick, short-term solution to the symptoms of anxiety.

Reminders of positivity

It might seem a little bit cheesy but surrounding yourself with things that make you feel good is a great way of staying positive during uncertain times. Perhaps there is a movie that never fails to make you smile, or a YouTube video that you cannot help but laugh at. Put photos of things that make you happy in places that you are often in – it will make you smile without you having to think about it! By surrounding yourself with things that remind you of more positive and happy times, you will feel more positive just by thinking about them.

Stay social (within reason)

The deluge of virtual ways you can connect and socialise with your friends and family means you are never truly cut off from the people you love. Set up weekly calls with people to check in or get people involved with quizzes. You might just find that you are actually seeing people more during lockdown than you were before. It can be hard – especially for more extroverted people – to stay upbeat when you’re cut off from the people you love, so seeing people – even virtually – can be a real mood booster.

Most importantly, make sure you’re taking care of yourself and listening to what your body and mind need. Things will get better.

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