Ways to destress during times of uncertainty

We hardly need a scientific study to attest to the fact that uncertain times can create added stress – we’ve all just lived through it.

These strange times put us on edge in many ways, from creating uncertainty about the future, to making us worry about loved ones, to sparking financial stress about job situations, to simply feeling overwhelmed by it all. These are all absolutely natural feelings, and there’s nothing wrong with feeling strained, but it is important to put yourself first and try to combat this stress.

A little stress from time to time is normal, but too much stress all the time can essentially put the body on constant high alert. This can lead to high blood pressure, poor sleep, tiredness, moodiness, headaches, and even diabetes or heart disease. That’s why it’s so important to find ways to destress.

Here are some excellent ways to bring your stress levels down and keep your mental and physical wellbeing up:

Set a time for news consumption

It’s the media’s job to report what’s going on in the world, and when the world is an uncertain place, that means more negative headlines than usual (and there’s usually a lot anyway). It’s no wonder that checking the news regularly can make you feel overwhelmed and stressed.

While it’s still important to stay up to date, there’s no reason to be checking the news every hour. Set a time to check the news once per day and stick to it so your entire day isn’t filled with constant negativity.

Get outside and exercise

Both exercise and spending time outdoors can help to reduce your stress levels, so double up on the goodness and make a habit of walking, running, or biking outdoors most days of the week.

Don’t allow yourself to make excuses and bring along a buddy to help keep you accountable if you find your willpower slacking.

Try yoga

Yoga is one of those exercises that sounds too good to be true. Physically, it can improve your flexibility and strength, but mentally, it can help to give your mind clarity, ease your stress, and calm you down. It gives you a time to simply focus on your body, balance, and breathing, and put yourself first in a way that promotes your health and wellbeing. You can do it at home with a free YouTube video, or sign up for a class with an instructor.

Get connected online

The internet is a vast place, and it can absolutely be a force for good. The thing is, you’re certainly not the only person feeling the stress, and connecting to others online can give you an outlet for airing out those concerns and talking through them.

Consider setting up a big Zoom catch up with your entire family, or an old group of friends. You could track down old friends on Facebook and see how they’re doing, or you may be able to find similar-interest groups via Facebook or Google, where you can socialise, chat about interests, attend meet-ups, discuss your stresses, and spend more time getting out and getting active. Men’s Shed NZ and The New Zealand Federation of Women’s Institutes are both great examples of local communities designed to support and encourage men and women respectively.

Even a quick text or a WhatsApp message can help to uplift someone else’s day and your own, as human connection is always a great way to unload and destress.

Practice gratefulness

When things are grim, when you are stressed, when everything feels broken, it can genuinely help to make a concerted effort to focus on the positives.

It’s a matter of training your brain to break the habit of thinking negatively all the time, and mentally give your mind a break with some positivity. This isn’t a habit you can break overnight, but it is possible over time.

The best approach for practicing gratefulness is usually to start a daily diary where you note down all of the positive things in your day. This could be anything from spotting the first daffodils of spring, to hearing your favourite song on the radio, to receiving a text from a friend. When you do this every day, it can help you to take notice of all the little moments of joy every day, even when things are tough.

In these strange times, or for any uncertain times, putting your health and wellbeing first is a must. Explore our Discovery Hub for more health and lifestyle articles and advice.