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Managing your thoughts

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Barnaby Parker Mental Health, FitforWork, Blog...

Stress doesn’t go away during Lockdown. In fact, one of the unseen consequences to the current situation and the impending economic gloom means that nowadays stress frequently starts at home!

Ask yourself how many of these traits you can recognise in a remote colleague: depression, anxiety, anger, irritability, or restlessness.

Let’s not dwell on the dark place these can lead to.

Or it might be you who is feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated, or unfocused. Perhaps you have trouble sleeping or are sleeping too much? Your thoughts are racing, or you have a constant worry? Problems with your memory or concentration? You start making bad decisions….

Recognising stress quickly matters, in yourself and others. I urge you to stop and listen, listen properly, give yourself and others time. Pause.

How can you reduce your stress or even better avoid it completely? My first tip is to treat it as you would any other task (like a spring clean) and allocate yourself time and tools.

Here are a few of my favourite stressbusters:

1) Avoid caffeine, alcohol, drugs, opiates, sleeping pills - and social media. Perhaps don’t totally hibernate but everyone has something that makes them cranky.

2) Talk to someone and talk to them properly. Perhaps ask them in advance for 45 minutes of their time for a proper chat. And listen back.

3) Do physical exercise, gardening (window boxes or even “guerrilla gardening” count!). My favourite online workout is at www.BeFearsome.com because it’s a community of people who exercise and chat together.

4) Get fresh air! Even if you can’t go out, let the air in and sleep well (a proper sleep cures many ills). You don’t need me to tell you about turning off screens etc.

5) Try relaxation techniques – meditate, use an app like Headspace or just stop doing things for a moment to focus on nothing but the here and now – you’ll feel better for it.

6) Keep a diary. Write it all down and then reprioritise. A common lesson from Lockdown is the realisation that so much we used to do is actually pointless.

7) Take control wherever possible. Focus on the problem, share it. Manage your time and learn to say “no” (trickier with the profusion of online calls we now experience!)

8) Rest if you are ill, ideally have someone look after you! At the very least let someone know that you are unwell and ask them to check up on you.

9) Above all remember that stress can be just another interruption. Treat it with respect and it may just go away quietly.