Stress affects us all in different ways, at different times and is caused by different things. We present differently and we will have different coping mechanisms. As we emerge from our lockdown bubbles, we may be faced with unexpected challenges as we rehabilitate back into life as it was before restrictions.
What is stress?
Stress is a feeling of being under a pressure you’re not used to. Transitioning out of lockdown might impact some more than others, particularly those of us who have been isolating for extended periods of time.
Stressors can be singular things, such as an increased workload or an argument. However, these stressors can also be cumulative and build up so they compound the negative feelings you might be experiencing.
How does stress present itself?
We all experience stress but in extreme cases, it has the ability to affect your health and wellbeing meaning you need to explore ways of tackling it.
Some signs include:
- difficulty concentrating
- mood swings or changes in your mood
- change in eating and/or sleeping habits
- muscle tension
- low self-esteem
- loss of sex drive
Following a recent trip to London to film some educational segments for an online course provider, I realised how ill prepared I was for the day as a whole. I had initially thought my only stress for the day would be having to speak on camera, which has always caused some trepidation.
What I hadn’t anticipated was forgetting how to function outside of my front door. Not only did I purchase a single train ticket rather than a return journey, I stood at the wrong platform, panicked about changing trains and wondered if London’s Tube system would still be the same.
Having spent so long adapting to a new way of life of restrictions and predictability within my surroundings, everything that was once familiar seemed alien. So, to ensure I don’t feel that way again, I will practice the following:
Before embarking on any large tasks or trips I haven’t made in a while, I will plan carefully and list any tasks I may have to perform. Just because something was second nature, it doesn’t mean it will be after such a long break. Writing down how to complete the task will prevent me from being flustered when I am actually doing it.
- Have a restful night’s sleep
Being tired can compound feelings of stress, especially if we cannot think clearly. A good night’s sleep is very important for our mental health and so I try to:
- Avoid screen time up to an hour before bed
- Don’t drink caffeinated drinks after 5pm
- Exercise regularly
- Keep a sleep diary
- Be kind to myself
As professionals, we can be very unkind to ourselves if we make mistakes. However, we need to allow ourselves to exist in a safe space, where making errors is ok. In fact, if you try to learn from every mistake you make, you cannot help but grow as a person. Therefore, this can help us remove the stigma and negativity around getting things wrong in the first place.
So, as we head down the path of returning to normal, ensure you are prepared and don’t take for granted that you used to find something easy. After all, you never forget how to ride a bike, but you might be a little bit wobbly when you get back on it for the first time in a while.