If the demands of ‘normal life’ feel overwhelming after lockdown, dial down your stress response  with these simple, practical, evidence-based psychology tips.  

After months of restricted activity, the sudden return of ordinary demands may have come as a rude shock. Even if you desperately wished for your ‘old life’, the reality of life resuming in one fell swoop may feel overwhelming. The workload is back to normal (or busier, because everyone wants to make up for lost time). There’s the nerve-fraying peak hour traffic commute you didn't have while working from home. You again need to drive the kids to sport, music and social activities. And then, for parents, there’s the return to preparing and packing lunches and ironing uniforms. Agh!

The cruel twist in this onslaught of stress is that its effects may make it even harder to cope. Without conscious intervention, stress can have a kind of Domino effect or create a vicious cycle, which, in some cases, may spiral into anxiety. For instance, when you're stressed, you may unknowingly hold your breath, which exacerbates physiological stress responses. Your sleep quantity or quality may be compromised, which makes it more difficult to think clearly and focus, make decisions, problem-solve and gain perspective. You may be skipping meals or grabbing nutritionally-poor convenience options, which can contribute to daytime fatigue and energy slumps and fail to provide the fuel your brain needs to function well. Your exercise routine may have gone out the window, depriving your brain of feelgood chemicals known to work against stress and even anxiety and depression. So, what to do about it?

To arrest the stress cycle, try these evidence-based tips.

If you feel unable to manage your current stress or anxiety, consider consulting a psychologist, who can help to instil effective stress-management skills and help you learn to identify your stress triggers and responses.

How are you taking time to care for yourself this week? If you answered, ‘me, who’s that?’ or ‘what time?’, you’re among the many of us who neglect our own holistic wellbeing needs. (In fact, July 25ths International Self-Care Day was created to overcome this widespread neglect.) But would it be different if caring for yourself actually benefited others? Actually, it does! 

By attending to our needs and wishes and keeping our own cup full, we are better placed to give to our children, partners, family, friends and the community. It may be challenging to imagine, but consider that taking time to meditate, exercise, see friends, make art or music, bake or even relax with a cuppa (and maybe a crossword) is an investment in not only your own wellbeing but that of others. No guilt required. 

If you’re rusty or have never practised self-care, start with small amounts of ‘me time’ based on these important areas. 

We’d love to hear what you’re doing for you this week?!😊#keepsoaring 

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We honour the strength and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and pay our respects to all Elders, past and present.
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