With the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus most of us are at home a lot more than we normally would be, as per the government advice. Having a lot of time at home when we know things aren’t right in the world can lead to over-thinking and cause increased anxiety and stress. It is so important to try and do things to fill your day to try and curb your anxieties and there are loads of ways to do this!
As you probably know by now, as physiotherapists we love to promote exercise and this is a great way to improve your mood, decrease stress levels and maintain fitness while you’re at home. Many patients won’t have the equipment at home that you might normally use in a gym or while you’re at your physiotherapy sessions but don’t let this be an excuse!
You could even chose a few exercises and make a circuit to do in the garden! Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins which reduces the perception of pain and improves mood. At the moment the government are also allowing one form of exercise outside of your home per day, so make the most of that. Even if you just go for a walk to get some fresh air, or go for a bike ride or jog if you can.
Be sure to follow the advice and only walk with people from your household and if you see other people out and about, keep a minimum of 2 metres away from them.
It's also very tempting to sit on your phone, play computer games or watch television for long periods when you’re not in a normal routine. This not only encourages weight gain through lack of activity but also disturbs your sleeping pattern. If you’re consistently not sleeping well your stress levels can rise and your perception of pain can increase – both things that will only add to the already exacerbated anxiety levels from the worries about Coronavirus!
We often use relaxation methods during our residential rehabilitation as we find patients perform better afterwards as their concentration is improved. Relaxation takes some trial and error to find what works best for you, so don’t give up if it doesn’t seem to work on the first attempt. Mindfulness and meditation are two techniques we often use - see the image to the right and give it a try! Other ways to relax might include simply reading a book or maybe trying some yoga.
Another underestimated tool to help with anxiety and stress during times like this is talking! If you keep all of your worries to yourself they often eat away at you and then eventually one day you will suddenly erupt – I’m sure you have all been there! As difficult as it sometimes to open up about things, generally everyone feels better when they do. As if a weight has been lifted, as they say - a problem shared is a problem halved!
So to summarise - keep exercising at least half an hour every day, minimise screen usage where you can, try some relaxation methods and be sure to share your worries with someone during this time of isolation. And remember, to keep yourself and your family protected from the Coronavirus only go out to get essential goods or for your daily exercise session and keep washing your hands!
For more guideance visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
Relaxation is another great way of helping with anxiety and even boredom and is easy to do at home! There are so many different ways to relax and loads of different resources online that are free to help you switch off.