FROM the tough lockdown restrictions to health concerns – many of us will have found ourselves overcome with stress during the coronavirus pandemic.
In fact, a recent study from Mind revealed that 60 per cent of Brits’ mental health has declined during lockdown – with 42 per cent rarely or never feeling relaxed at home in recent weeks.
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However, a top UK psychologist says there are a number of ways to reduce stress levels from your own home amid the coronavirus outbreak – with self-care being of utmost importance.
Emma Kenny says: “Self-care is something that many of us place on the back burner when it comes to looking after our own needs, and yet, it is essential for positive mental health and wellbeing.
“There are so many simple, yet highly effective ways of reducing stress and improving overall wellness, and there is no time like the present to introduce a routine that works holistically to improve your mental wellbeing.”
The Sun recently launched the You’re Not Alone campaign to remind anyone facing a tough time, grappling with mental illness or feeling like there’s nowhere left to turn, that there is hope.
Here, Emma shares her top tips for creating self-care rituals as part of your daily routine…
1. Find time for ‘self-care’
From home-schooling the kids to keeping on top of emails while working from home – many of us have found ourselves rushed off our feet during lockdown.
However, it is important to find the time to take proper care of yourself at this time, whether that’s fitting in some time to exercise, crashing out in front of a movie or reading a book.
In particular, Emma, who has teamed up with Radox to remind Brits that creating small moments of self-care as part of our daily routine can help improve our mental wellbeing, recommends having a relaxing bath or shower to un-wind.
Emma says: “There are so many reasons why self-care matters – from improving self-esteem, to maintaining personal confidence – the list really is endless.
“Sometimes, finding the space to dedicate to your own needs can feel tricky, so using your shower or bathing time in a mindful manner, and creating a positive self-care ritual can offer you the perfect pocket of opportunity relax and de-stress.”
2. Practice deep breathing
Taking a moment out of your day to focus on your breath could be extremely beneficial for lowering stress in the body, both in the short and the long-term.
Emma says: “Practice three minutes of deep breathing to strengthen your diaphragm – this has been proven to reduce anxiety and increase a sense of control over your emotional world.
“Try the ‘box breath’ method by breathing in through your nose for four seconds, holding for four, breathing out through the mouth for four, and holding for four.
“Practice this every day to soothe any anxieties.”
You’re Not Alone
EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.
It doesn’t discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.
It’s the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.
And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.
Yet it’s rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.
That is why The Sun launched the You’re Not Alone campaign.
The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.
Let’s all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You’re Not Alone.
If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:
3. Create mindful minutes
Very few of us likely have an entire hour or two to devote to meditation and stillness each day, but we all can find at least one mindful minute.
Emma urges people to find 60 seconds to just stop and and engage with the outside world.
“If you have one, open your window, let in the fresh air, and allow yourself to pay full attention to the outside world,” she says.
“Rustling of the breeze, birdsongs as they whistle in the trees, the buzz and hum of sounds beyond your window – allow yourself to connect fully with the here and now.
“This practice helps you to connect with the wonder all around you and makes you feel fully present.”
If you don’t want to open your window, or don’t have one, Emma recommends bringing the outside inside with calming sounds – from the sea or birds tweeting as if above you.
4. Use positive affirmations
We are our often own worst critics and we will have all been guilty of negative self-talk at some point – particularly during the uncertain times we are currently experiencing.
Emma recommends dedicating a couple of minutes of your day to tell yourself positive affirmations about yourself.
She says: “Making positive statements such as ‘I am a worthy person who deserves great things to happen in my life’ help form positive neural pathways and means you get in the habit of thinking positively.”
5. Belt out your favourite song
OK, so your neighbours might not be your number one fan but singing can help boost mental well-being.
Emma says: “Projecting your vocals is the ultimate mood booster.
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“It has the power to improve the overall function of your brain whilst releasing lots of feel good endorphins to make you feel great.”
On Friday, Radox hosted a nationwide World Record singalong attempt to support mental health and raise money for Mind.
You can still donate here.
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