Post-pandemic stress disorder (PPSD) is caused by stress symptoms implemented by the coronavirus pandemic, which affect day-to-day life and productivity. A specialist team of experts at Delamere discuss a few ways that you can keep symptoms under control.
Relaxing with mindful meditation
For many of us, relaxation means putting our feet up and enjoying some television at the end of a stressful day. But according to research, despite feeling calm in the moment, this doesn’t relax or rejuvenate you, it worsens your feeling of stress and leads to feelings of guilt.
When dealing with stress, you need to activate your body’s natural relaxation response, which helps to slow your heart rate, lower blood pressure and balance your mind and body.
Meditation has many health benefits and is a highly effective way to relieve stress, soften anxiety, and improve your mental wellbeing. Taking time to relax the mind with meditation gives you the space to separate your energy, attention and emotions.
Distinguishing the difference between valid emotions and those which are not, is a big part of mindful meditation, recognising this will help your experience with stress and anxiety.
Distract your negative thoughts with physical activity
Physical activity can help reduce your stress levels and can have a massive influence on your physical and mental well-being. Exercising regularly, even if that’s just 10 minutes a day can help individuals suffering from PPSD cope with their symptoms.
When exercising, breathing deeper triggers the body’s relaxation response. But there are certain exercises that can be more helpful than others when it comes to relieving stress.
Just like any other cardiovascular activity, walking outside for 20–30 minutes several times per week can improve sleep, increase energy and increase stress-busting endorphins. According to research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, when walking in green spaces your brain is taken to a calmer state with little to no signs of anxiety.
Other forms of physical activity that can help cope with stress are gardening, circuit training, Pilates, yoga, and tennis.
Writing can help to boost positive emotions and reduce stress and anxiety, according to research published in the British Journal of Health Psychology. Spending a total of 20 minutes per day writing about positive experiences can improve your physical and psychological health.
The aim is to find the positive in traumatic experiences, to reduce PPSD symptoms, tension and built-up anger. Start by thinking of an experience that makes you feel unhappy or uncomfortable and begin writing about the positives you can take from the experience.
Social support for stress relief
Reaching out to family and friends for help and support is crucial in coping with stress. Socialisation increases a hormone within our bodies that can decrease levels of anxiety and make us feel more confident in our ability to deal with stress.
Limited social support has been linked to increased levels of depression, loneliness and has been proven to alter brain function and increase the risk of alcohol use, drug abuse, depression and suicide. Social interactions with family and friends play a crucial role in how you function on a daily basis, spend time each day talking and interacting to relieve stress.
Improving your nutrition can help to improve your wellbeing
Another approach reportedly effective in helping individuals cope with the symptoms of stress is adopting a healthy lifestyle, through nutrition and diet. Certain foods are proven to help combat stress levels and improve emotional response.
It’s tempting to reach for a heavily stacked burger or grease-covered fries but instead opt for green leafy vegetables which produce dopamine, a feel-good brain chemical that keeps you calm.
Other alternatives include oatmeal filled with carbohydrates, yoghurt which helps to reduce brain activity, salmon containing anti-inflammatory properties to counteract stress, blueberries that boost a natural cell to help immunity and dark chocolate which improve circulation.