While the physical health impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic might be lesser felt here in New Zealand – the psychological impacts on stress and wellbeing have certainly been real. So just as the cooler months roll in, it can be an opportune time to consciously chill out. Here are Metropol’s tips for some science-backed stress busters.
BANISH THE LANGUISH: You’ve heard of burnout, but have you heard of “languishing”? Described by the New York Times as “the neglected middle child of mental health,” languishing is a somewhat joyless and aimless emotional state. Sitting in the middle of the mental health spectrum, this feeling of “meh” can make us more susceptible to mental health issues, as well as sufferers finding it harder to concentrate and wanting to withdraw. Keep the languish at bay by finding your “flow”. This is what psychology professor Adam Grant (and author of above article) describes as those activities which catapult you into routine and bring meaning to your day, for example your morning coffee and sudoku or a Youtube yoga class.
HEALTHY HABITS: What we choose to fuel our bodies with not only impacts our physical health, but also our mood. Sugary foods may give a temporary high, but as blood sugar regulates, mood swings can creep in. Which means there is some bad news about caffeine, too. If you’re already stressed, caffeine can supercharge those stress side effects like anxiousness, difficulty sleeping and energy crashes. Instead, snack on nourishing wholefoods like fruit and nuts, and drink a cup of green tea instead of that cuppa Joe.
THE STRESS EFFECT: High levels of stress over an extended period have been scientifically proven to affect basically every physical function of our bodies. From high blood pressure and heart health to altering the brain, mucking with your hormones, messing with your sleep and lowering your immune system: stress is not helpful for health. Understanding how stress affects you, and knowing what to look out for can be a great way to self-regulate and keep on top of your health.
MINDFUL MOVES: Making a conscious effort to move your body in ways which you enjoy is another science-backed way to beat stress. Research new ways to exercise, from gentle stretching to walking and more intensive work outs, and one mindful must-do is getting the right amount of sleep: Go to bed earlier, banish electronics and consider accessories like a sunrise lamp or herbal sleep remedies. If your mood is consistently low, talk to your GP or free call or text 1737.