April 21, 2020
It’s okay to have good And bad days in lockdown
I think it’s true to say that in the last 3 weeks I have good and bad days, days when I feel I’m coping extremely well and others not so!
Failure to manage my stress levels during lockdown not only disturbs my sleep, but makes me tired, causes me to eat a little unhealthier, to put on weight and causes stomach discomfort too!
Here are a few things I find work well for me:
Identify the causes of my stress and acknowledge them. These are probably the same for most of us at the present time, the rules we have to follow, the lack of physical contact with my friends and family, the lack of diary entries (why did I buy a 2020 dairy?), the financial worry and a feeling of not being in control of my life.
My daily gratitude journal. At the start of each day I reflect on 3 things (or even just 1) that I’m grateful for. I find it helps give me a positive outlook. If you’re not a fan of writing a journal, it’s just as effective to say them out loud.
A daily morning coffee and a long chat with a friend or family member, something I rarely do when I’m working.
Avoid alcohol or have at least 4 alcohol free nights. It’s very easy especially with this fabulous weather to reach for that glass of wine to calm my anxiety and stress. However, I know that alcohol increases my stress levels, impacts my sleep and lowers my mood the following day. On my alcohol free days I opt for calming teas; camomile, lemon balm, rose, green tea and peppermint.
Exercise. It’s one of the great things about lockdown having time to exercise daily! I try to go outside for an hour a day either for a walk or a jog, those feel-good endorphins from exercise are a highly effective way of de-stressing. I may also add in a yoga class from the many ones available on line, I particular enjoy Grace Mantella at Bamboo Wellness. I’ve also been committing to working out with a friend using one of the many virtual forums available which not only means I’m forced to get out of bed at a reasonable time but I’m more likely to exercise daily too.
Be kind to Me! Above all, I allow myself to feel the way I do. I do let off steam if I need to, I do have a good old cry and I try to remember that what I’m feeling right now is not permanent.
A bath with my favorite essential oils, I opt for calming ones such as lavender, rose, ylang ylang or jasmine. Having a bath, ideally before bed not only soothes your stresses, but these scents help instill calm and help me to breathe more deeply.
Get enough sleep. I avoid watching the news at night and where possible stop using my screen gadgets two hours prior to bed. Studies show their use can lower our sleep hormone melatonin making it more difficult for us to achieve our 7-9 hours sleep per night.
Giving my body good nutrients: We all know diet is important for health, even more so when we’re stressed. Ironically, this is the time when my healthy habits can get thrown out the window and instead I can opt for the quick, comfort eats that we know will make me feel poorly, lethargic, and guilty. I try (most of the time) to eat foods that provide stress-supportive nutrients, such as:
Magnesium. This mineral has a natural relaxing effect, found in foods such as; green leafy vegetables (spinach, rocket, chard), legumes, nuts (almonds) and fruit (avocado, bananas). Magnesium gets depleted very quickly when we’re stressed (consider this like turning on a tap). Alternatively, you could add Epsom salts, or magnesium flakes to the bath for extra muscular relaxation.
B vitamins. Nutrients that get depleted easily when stressed. B vitamins are crucial for energy production and the nervous system. Supplementing with B vitamins could be highly supportive in helping you to de-stress with an energy boost. In particular, vitamin B6 helps in the production of serotonin ( happy hormone), as well as our calming neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Increasing GABA can calm anxiety
Probiotics ( good gut bacteria) . Stress directly impacts gut health thorough a communication link between the gut and brain via the Vagus nerve. This is why you may experience digestive complaints, such as bloating, changes in stool consistency, or even stomach pains during times of stress. Exposure to stress has been shown to influence our gut bacteria, altering our ability to process food. Supporting gut health with probiotic bacteria-rich foods such as raw sauerkraut and kefir, or opting for an oral supplement at 10 billion bacteria daily for a more therapeutic dose.
Useful resources to get you started
- The Stress Solution book by Dr Rangan Chatterjee.
- Wim Hoff Method free app with breathing techniques, meditation and cold therapy.
- Headspace – free meditation app.
- Sleep Smarter book by Shawn Stevenson.
- Yoga with Adriene, YouTube.
- 15-minute meditation with Boho Beautiful, YouTube.
- Contact me Cathy Foley at [email protected] for further information on any of the above.
The team at Theale Wellbeing Centre are here to help so if you need someone to talk to about any concerns then give us a call on the usual number 0118 930 3535.
Keep safe and well.
Food Sensitivity Tester