Now that we are being asked to step back outside and start behaving more normally again it can be a very stressful and anxious time. Today I look at some simple things you can do and herbal remedies to help relieve your stress and anxiety at this time.
Lockdown and Covid-19 have affected us all. How very quickly we were forced to adapt to a threat that read like a sci-fi film. Work changed, socialising stopped. Our lives became very small. We were asked to view every possible human contact as a potentially toxic. Lockdown was a perfect storm of stressful catalysts. Change, isolation and fear of the unknown. Now we are being asked to step outside, to start behaving normally. This too can be a bit scary. We have to change and adapt again and there are still so many unknowns.
Here are a few things to remember:
We are all in this together: you are not alone.
Humans are very resourceful.
There are ways of relieving stress and anxiety:
Keep walking and cycling.
During lockdown, many of us enjoyed the empty roads and quiet streets. Maybe you started to exercise? The lovely weather made this a lovely benefit.
Exercise has so many benefits for our physical and mental health. Physical fitness improves life expectancy. It increases energy and helps to improve sleep. It can help relieve the symptoms of anxiety and low mood. It strengthens the respiratory tract and circulation. My lockdown find was a free online dance session – Check out Ryan Heffington on Instagram– such fun. The A.Vogel Get Active pages are brilliant too. Check out our exercise videos.
Cycling is also a great way of avoiding public transport. Buses and trains are often crowded and stressful environments. They can be loud and smelly. The experience can be fraught with crowded and unfamiliar situations. The pandemic is certainly not making bus transport lovelier. It's very common to be nervous on public transport. There are many supports and alternatives available. The bike to work and public bike-sharing schemes are well worth checking out. There are also a few organisations out there whose mission is cycling encouragement. Getting out and about under your own steam is cheap, and it's wholesome exercise.
A.Vogel Self-Care Tip: Learn why singing can be good for helping stress
There are many techniques that you can use to help to reduce feelings for stress or anxiety. Yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong all have proven benefits. This video will tell you why singing is so helpful:
Masks, gloves and sanitiser
It can be a bit overwhelming getting used to all this PPE and sanitising. Trying not to not touch your face. Choose an apple without touching any other apple. Remembering not to touch your child with your supermarket gloves on. It can be a logistically nightmare. It's enough to make you sweat with anxiety. You might secrete droplets – eek!
Try to consider all of these measures as just your new outfit. Like a uniform or a Halloween costume. Everyone else is trying to get used to this as well. We will all make the odd mistake. No one will dissolve or burst into flames. Other people will appreciate the effort that you are making. All these new and awkward devices are not familiar yet, but we will all adapt. Take your time to find equipment that is comfortable to wear. Reusable masks can be very breathable and can fit well. They are also good for the environment. Accessorise them and make them look good on you. Face coverings are better for breathing purposes, if you find them easier to manage.
It can be very strange getting back to 'normal'. After weeks of isolation, we can now socialise. Pubs are back in various forms, and everyone is shopping and getting their haircuts. This can be quite daunting. It may have been very easy on the nerves, staying at home. Not have to deal with lots of other people. You might ask yourself, how am I going to cope? Will I have anything to say? Will I be able to reconnect with my friends and colleagues? These worries are can lead to social anxiety:
A feeling that everyone is watching you and judging you.
Everything you say and do is being scrutinised.
A dread of meeting people, attending social activities, talking to people on the phone.
Fear of being criticised or being humiliated.
Overthinking every potential social contact
Having panic attacks during social situations.
If fear of socialising is holding you back, it's important to get some help. Tell your friends and family how you are feeling. Let them know that you need support and understanding. You can arrange to see people in quiet and comfortable places.
There is lots of professional help available. Many therapies that are good at helping social anxiety. Your GP can give you information and a referral for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). It can be very effective. Deep breathing exercises are well-researched. You can read about them here - Breathing tips to relieve stress
If your symptoms are mild, a herbal remedy may help.
AvenaCalm gives gentle support for mild anxiety. It's particularly good if you have ongoing stress in your life that might require some support. A bit like a nerve tonic. It can help you feel calmer.
Valerian Complex combines Valerian and Hops. These herbs are fast-acting. They are very suited to helping mild anxiety that needs swift resolution, like before a job interview.
Jan de Vries Flower Essences work differently to herbal remedies. They work solely with the emotions, having no physical effect. Flower Essences are very good at helping to let go of negative thoughts. Here are a few that may be useful. There is one for every situation. You can take them in a little water or drop them directly on your tongue.