The outbreak of Coronavirus is likely to cause stress for many people…

Having the right tools, and practising the right techniques to take care of yourself will, in turn, help others; your friends; your family; your colleagues, cope with their own stresses.

Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories about COVID-19. We all want to stay abreast of the information but constant exposure can become upsetting or confusing, which isn’t good for stress levels.

Take care of your body – eat healthily, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep. Not only does this boost your immune system but eating food you enjoy and working up a sweat also stimulates the production of endorphins; the body’s natural mood elevation chemical.

Take deep breaths, or meditate. A simple breathing exercise recommended by the NHS is; Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth letting your breath flow as deep down into your belly as is comfortable, without forcing it. Breathe in gently and regularly, counting steadily from 1 to 5 in your head. Then, without pausing or holding your breath, exhale gently, counting from 1 to 5 again. Keep doing this for 3 to 5 minutes.

Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy such as games with family, gardening, sewing or reading. Use this time to take up a hobby, learn a new skill or explore some of the free webcasts across social media – I’ve already spotted a few celebrities offering their talents to help us through isolation; you can learn dance with Oti Mabuse, script write with This Country’s Daisy May Cooper, or learn music with Myleene Klass.

Connect with others. Ensure you have contact with people you trust and be open about your concerns and feelings. This might be with people in your own home or friends and family you’re regularly in touch with. Make coming together fun… use Facetime, Skype or similar video call platforms to host virtual dinner parties, games nights or film festivals – Netflix has introduced Netflix Party, which allows users to link up with friends and host long-distance movie nights.

Try to keep up with regular routines. If you have children create a schedule for learning activities as well as having fun. If you’re working from home, treat it like a day in the office but make sure you’re still getting regular breaks and time away from computer screens.

Be it; fear of catching the infection; anxieties over protecting our loved ones; concerns for our employment or businesses; struggles with adapting to a ‘new normal’; changes in sleep or eating patterns; or worries about the future of our economy – we are all bound to be feeling some level of stress due to Coronavirus.

The uncertainties are overwhelming so having the coping mechanisms in place to deal with stress is essential. However, if stress starts to get in the way of your daily activities or your ability to focus for several days in a row you must contact your healthcare provider.

For now, in the words of Jerry Springer; “take care of yourself, and each other”.

Regards.

Jamie.

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Government recommended stress management tools;

Every Mind Matters provides simple tips and advice on taking better care of your mental health. If you are still struggling after several weeks and it is affecting your daily life, please contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111.

You can access free easy ten minute workouts from Public Health England or try other exercise videos at home on the NHS Fitness Studio. Sport England also has tips for keeping active at home.

The Every Mind Matters sleep page provides practical advice on how to improve your sleep.

Visit the NHS mental health and wellbeing advice website for self-assessment, audio guides and practical tools, if you are experiencing stress, feelings of anxiety or low mood.

If you already have a mental health problem, you can access comprehensive guidance provided by Mind.