During these exceptionally challenging times of the Covid-19 pandemic we have developed a heightened sense of awareness in being mindful of our surroundings, protecting ourselves by social distancing, wearing masks and sanitising in order to protect ourselves and others against the dangerous virus which has cost so many lives. However, we do have coping mechanisms that we can call upon to help us to survive. Our health is our number one priority and if we can focus on what we can practically do to promote our physical, mental and emotional wellness, we may be better equipped to cope with the uncertainty of life. There are significant differences presented in how we, as a society are expected to adapt, process, and deal with the significant sources of stress.

Promoting healthy resilience is a way of looking at our lifestyles and finding effective ways of adapting to the changes. I would like to suggest some of the things that we can practically do to help ourselves find ways to bounce back from the adversities of life and to develop healthy resilience.

Overcoming Stress

Stress is a major factor which impacts on our minds, body and spirit. The effect of stress can be debilitating when faced with extreme pressures from different aspects of our daily lives. The effect of the pandemic is being felt in, rising death rate, government guidelines, uncertainty, and confusion about what we can and cannot do, the threat of another lockdown and being isolated from our families and friends are at the forefront of our minds; and, as a result, is impacting on our stress levels. It is during these times that we are most at risk as the physical and emotional symptoms are felt. These include, feelings of being overwhelmed, constant worrying and anxiety, lack of concentration, changes in our sleeping and eating habits, loneliness and isolation.

Here are some helpful tips which you may wish to consider:

When feeling overwhelmed or anxious, take some time out in order to divert your thoughts and attention away from the situation.

Chronic worrying is bound to heavily impact on your mood, your relationship with others as well as your work. Try to work with others to help solve the problem – a problem shared is a problem halved! Try not to spend too much time over-thinking. Worrying is unhelpful as it doesn’t solve the problem, so why waste precious time on things you have no control over? Furthermore, negative attitudes can create more stress which then upsets the body’s hormone balance.

Divert your attention by doing pleasurable things to lift your mood such as watching a favourite comedy film which you find amusing.

Play a game, doodle or draw, listening to soothing music, or cooking a favourite meal are suggestions of pleasurable activities.

Try not to suppress your worries, as they’ll only bounce back when you least expect them to surface.

Physical symptoms such as muscle tension, can lead to aches and pains. The body is unique and when we hold onto strong emotions like anger and stress, our breathing increases, we tend to hunch our bodies, clench our teeth, knit our brows. We therefore need to release these muscles by relaxing and stretching in order to release the tension. A simple exercise is to find a comfortable seat, lift your shoulders to your ears, exhale and bring your shoulders down and back and repeat.

Exercise is most important, and walking is regarded as an effective cardiovascular exercise, and is therefore good for our heart. Going for daily walks around the parks, or even around our own gardens, if you can, whilst breathing in the fresh air. Brisk walking releases endorphins which gives us the ‘feel good’ factor and is a great stress buster.

I believe nature provides great healing powers – and is essential for our mental health and wellbeing. Even though the Autumn is now present, we can still wrap up warm and enjoy the autumnal scenes in our local parks and walkways. As we go along our journey, we can be mindful as we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings as well as our breathing. Even an hour a day spent in the natural light raises our levels of serotonin which is a mood hormone which induces feelings of wellness and happiness.

Laughter is a powerful tonic as it boosts our mood and strengthens our immune system, relieves tension and decreases stress hormones.

Try and identify your source of fun which infuses laughter, and which is free and easy to use such as watching a comedy film, listening to jokes, laughing at silly things or life in general.

Studies suggest that Laughter yoga, as a form of therapy, may provide a few physiological and psychological benefits which would be helpful as an intervention to increase wellbeing.

Stay connected

Loneliness and isolation are always of major concern, but particularly during this time of the covid pandemic when we are feeling a sense of disconnection from our loved ones, and feeling the loss of human contact. Our lives have changed so dramatically, that we are all trying to come to terms and adjust to what is regarded as the ‘new normal’. This kind of adjustment is not normal, so we need to find way of ‘normalising’ things for ourselves. Connection brings pleasure and is good for our mood and physical health, also, spending time with others increases our psychological wellbeing. The following examples are ways in which we can make connection in order to minimise the impact of loneliness:

Communicate with family and friends by means of telephone calls, or use of modern technology such as video calls, FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp and zoom calls. You may also be able to engage in fun activities online, such as playing board games, and other virtual quizzes.

You may wish to participate in online exercise classes, cookery classes, dance classes, or in person (whilst socially distancing).

There are Telephone befriending services available to support vulnerable people who are isolated within the community, and this is a good way of forging new relationships.

Take time to listen to others and show empathy in your understanding of whatever they are going through.

Share and exchange special memories and photographs of fun times spent together with friends and families.

Do remember to check on neighbours who live alone as a way of showing care and concern.

Boosting our immune system

In promoting a healthy defence, we must first adopt a healthy lifestyle, and this includes some of the following;

Ensuring that our body is provided with the right nutrients including our intake of B vitamins which helps to prevent infections and in supporting cell health. These are derived from, wholegrains, cereal, pasta, rice, meat, fish, and dairy products. Magnesium helps to strengthen the muscles and bones as well as our cardiac functions. These can be found in green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, kale, and dark chocolate. Research suggests that Vitamin D – the sunshine vitamin, plays a vital role in boosting the immune system and these can be found in oily fish such as, salmon, mackerel, herrings and sardines which are also rich in Omega 3 fats.

Exercise regularly to improve your cardiovascular health and maintain a healthy weight

Get adequate sleep of about 6-8 hours sleep per night although adolescent needs about 8-10 hours’ sleep

Drink around 2 litres of water daily in order to keep yourself hydrated.

Sonia Moore is founder of Mooreoptions Skills Development Training. She is an experienced Counsellor and Tutor with over 25 years of working within FE colleges, community hubs and the voluntary sector. She has a wealth of experience in listening to and honouring the experiences of many people who have shared their personal journeys. She can call upon her professional expertise and own personal experiences to support others in helping and enabling individuals through life experiences.

Sonia has developed and taught on a range of Personal Development courses including Counselling skills, Developing self-confidence, Developing self -awareness, Living through Loss, Supporting Others through loss.
The Living through Loss course to support individuals through the process of loss will be delivered in November 2020. Bookings are now been taken.
For further details on any of the courses and to book a place, please send an email regarding your interest to [email protected]

Find out more about Sonia: https://www.mooreoptions.org/