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The outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has been a cause of stress for many. April is Stress Awareness Month, so we spoke to Vicky, one of our incredible support workers, about how to relieve stress during this time. Here are her top 5 tips!

Please make sure to follow NHS and UK Government coronavirus guidelines when following these tips

1) Count 4-7-8

Also known as ‘relaxing breath,’ the 4-7-8 technique involves taking a deep breath in for 4 seconds, holding that breath for 7, and exhaling for 8 seconds. Breathing in this pattern really helps to reduce feelings of anxiety and can even help when attempting to get to sleep.

The 4-7-8 technique encourages the mind and body to focus on regulating your breathing rather than replaying your worries, so it can really help when these thoughts might be getting on top of you. The method also gives your body an oxygen boost, helping to bring it back into balance and regulate the ‘fight-or-flight’ response we feel when stressed.

2) Apps

Tech has never been so important! Calm or Headspace are just two useful apps for practicing mindfulness and helping to keep yourself feeling calm. They help you to feel grounded when things feel uncertain around you, and the added relaxing music really helps you to escape.

Podcast are another great way I like to de-stress! They are a great way to ‘get lost’ in your interests and can be a massive help in switching off. I’ve really enjoyed some of the ‘Classic Desert Island Discs’ ones and Fearne Cotton’s ‘Happy Place’.

3) Exercise

I’ve really enjoyed doing home workouts in the time I would usually go to the gym. This has helped me to stay in my routine and the endorphin release has helped massively too! There are lots of free online videos on YouTube, especially lots of yoga exercises that really help after a particularly stressful day.

4) Quizzing with friends

Ensuring I set aside time for socialising with friends has been a huge help when looking for things to do to de-stress. Coming up with quiz questions and participating in group chats has definitely allowed me to feel a sense of ‘togetherness’ in a time where we physically can’t be with each other. Spending time looking for good questions has really kept me occupied and helps keep my brain working too!

5) Pamper yourself

Finally, I’ve found a good dose of self care to be the best thing when feeling stressed. Being able to recognise when you need some ‘me time’ is so important. For me, that’s cooking or baking in the kitchen, or reading a book in a quiet space. This might sound like a cliché but, as my Grandad used to say: “Sometimes all you need is a nice cup of tea and a hot bath!”

Scheduling in one night a week if you can, to switch off your phone for an hour, run a bath, and get out your lotions and potions can really help. Even if you can’t get out or get hold of your favourite treatments at the moment, Pinterest is great for at-home pamper treatments. I tried a face mask at home recently using banana, yoghurt, and honey and I felt so relaxed afterwards!

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