Feeling stressed? Three counsellors and a life coach share their advice for coping with stress as we enter another lockdown
Feeling anxious about lockdown 2.0? You’re not alone. As restrictions are once again tightening across the country, many of us are starting to feel the pressures of pandemic-living again. In a recent survey of over 1,000 Happiful Magazine subscribers, increased stress levels and concerns for mental health over the winter months topped the list of worries.
With so much uncertainty ahead, it’s understandable to be feeling overwhelmed right now. But, there are practical steps you can take to help unload some of your worries. Here, four experts share their advice to help you tackle stress.
1. What is the source of your stress?
According to our recent survey, concern around family and relationships was the top cause of stress (56.8%), followed by health worries (54.2%) and general work pressures (53.9%). Of course, many factors could be contributing to your stress but, to tackle the problem, it’s important to pinpoint the main source.
Counsellor and executive coach Christina Johnson encourages you to ask yourself whether you are feeling overwhelmed or being overwhelmed. This can help you to distinguish whether you have too much to do, or if you are instead being overwhelmed by other situations. Understanding which it is can help determine the best way to tackle it in the moment.
“Is the overwhelm coming from task overload or is there a relationship component?” asks Christina. “If there’s simply too much to do, then there are lots of things you can do to address that – negotiate deadlines, ask for support or help from those around you. Now could be a good time to hone your delegation skills.
“If you are being overwhelmed by something or someone else, then it’s important to think about boundaries and what you need to do to create a sense of feeling centred and able to hold your ground.”
2. Prioritise self-care
Taking proper care of yourself can be one of the last things you prioritise when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. But, counsellor Billie Dunlevy argues that this is where you need to start, in order to feel better about your situation and how to cope with it.
The term ‘self-care’ might be something you associate with specific acts, such as lighting a candle or having a bath, but it really is so much more than that. It’s also important to consider that your self-care needs might change, depending on how you feel each day.
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Remember that these times we’re living through are anything but normal, so we can’t necessarily expect our usual acts of self-care to be enough. “We are living through collectively stressful times, and many of our ordinary coping strategies are not working for us,” says Billie.
So, now might be the time to look beyond your usual self-care toolbox and try other methods to help you regain a sense of wellbeing.
Looking for some inspiration? Download our free self-care booklet, to discover tips and activities from our ultimate guide to self-care.
3. Think about what’s helped you in the past
Although you might not like thinking back to the first lockdown, life coach Rachel Coffey suggests it might be helpful to review it. “It is really helpful to take a look back and be honest with ourselves about how we felt at different points during the last lockdown.”
Consider the following:
- What drained your energy or made days harder?
- Which things did you secretly enjoy?
- Who or what made you happy?
- What kind of communication helped you?
- What kinds of people or information supported and enlightened you – rather than raised more anxiety or frustration?
“Understanding how all of these things can be managed can really help us create more of the good times and less of the stressful ones,” says Rachel.
4. Try grounding exercises
Counsellor Louise Leighton says that breathing exercises and grounding techniques can work well when suffering high anxiety or panic attacks.
“Grounding simply means to return your focus back to the present,” says Louise. “It works by ridding your body of excess energy, calming and slowing down emotions you are feeling and calming your mind, to allow you to connect back with yourself in the present.”
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Grounding means returning your focus back to the present moment 🙏 It works by ridding your body of excess energy, slowing down your emotions, and calming your mind to allow you to connect back with yourself in the present ✨ Here, counsellor Louise Leighton (@acaciacounsellingleeds) shares five techniques to help you when you’re feeling stressed or anxious 👉 Click the link in our bio to read more ⬆️ . . . . . . . . . #stressrelieving #groundingtechniques #groundingmyself #groundingenergy #presentmoment #overcominganxiety #peacefulmindpeacefullife #courageovercomfort #trustyourintuition #wecandohardthings #showupforyourself #panicattack #panicdisorder #anxietyanddepression #endthestigmaofmentalhealth #therapistsofinstagram #anxietyattack #anxietyproblems #anxietytips #anxietymanagement #selfhealers #anxiousthoughts #anxietyrecovery #anxietydisorders #anxietyattacks #anxietyquote #anxietysupport #anxietyawareness #anxietyfighter #mentalhealthquotes
Louise shares the following exercise which uses all five of your senses to help you relax and ease stress.
5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique
Sit comfortably, close your eyes, take a deep breath in and then release it slowly. Open your eyes and look around you, slowly taking in your surroundings.
Name out loud:
- Five things you can see.
- Four things you can touch.
- Three things you can hear.
- Two things you can smell.
- One thing you can taste.
Then take a deep breath, release it and end the process.
When we are in the midst of a particularly intense period of stress, things can seem hopeless and overwhelming. But, no matter how big your worries are feeling, know that these feelings are temporary – you just may need a little help and support to get through to the other side, and begin seeing things more clearly.
For more information on overcoming stress and to find an experienced, qualified therapist, visit Counselling Directory.