Due to the recent restrictions, lockdowns, and Covid-19 illnesses occurring across the globe, mental health issues such as anxiety and depression have increased significantly. According to the Office for National Statistics, about one in five adults in Great Britain experienced some form of depression in early 2021, which increased by almost 20% from before Covid-19 started. In addition, the rates of depressive symptoms for adults aged between 16 and 39 more than doubled compared to before the virus broke out in 2020.
The reasons vary for the increase of mental health issues but more than likely, it can be due to the loneliness of this new way of living, isolation from family or friends, anxiety about their purpose in life, loss of jobs or anxiety over losing their jobs due to vaccination requirements, and many more reasons. Amongst university students, anxiety and depression are even more common as seen in recent student surveys, and young adults ages between 16 to 29 have the highest odds of having depressive symptoms as opposed to older adults. Yours truly has also struggled with managing her stress and anxiety, especially as a university student and as someone who works part-time with a busy schedule, but I’ve found ways to cope, be positive, and to always find the silver lining in any given situation.
Disclaimer: If you have clinical anxiety, depression, or other more serious mental health issues it’s best to consult with your GP or a mental health professional first before undertaking these tips to reduce and manage your anxiety.
Here’s a few practical tips I use to combat anxiety, stress, brain fog, and mental exhaustion or fatigue that can help you as well:
This one tends to get overlooked. While living in a capitalist/fast-paced society where work, productivity, getting things done, and always being on the go is a must, I find that getting my full seven to nine hours of sleep every night works wonders. I wake up refreshed, ready to tackle work, assignments, and projects while my skin looks rested and feels fabulous. My eyes are also noticeably a little brighter, with no under eye bags and naturally awake. Don’t underestimate the power of rest and sleep. We all need it and it’s essential for our mental health. In addition to the body, the brain needs some rest too.
Ease up on the caffeine
Caffeine is an addiction—as an American living in London, I would know! Even here in England, even though the UK is a nation of tea drinkers, coffee consumption is steadily rising, with Brits overall consuming around 95 million cups of coffee per day according to the British Coffee Association. If I drink coffee after 12 p.m., I am unable to go to bed until after midnight due to the stimulant side effects and increased heart rate. This is a no-no because my preferred bedtime routine starts at nine and I need to be asleep by 10:30 or 11 p.m. Less sleep means more anxiety, so I can’t risk my rest with caffeine. I opt for herbal teas instead, such as fruity tea flavors, chamomile, and peppermint, or if I choose to have a mocha, I request for one shot of caffeine as opposed to the usual two. I also make sure that any caffeine I do have is before 12 p.m. so as to not disrupt my sleep later in the evening. This might work for you as well.
I’m a busy girl. On top of studying for a Masters degree, I also work a part-time job at a café. So when I’m not chasing contacts for stories, completing assignments, or writing, I’m making coffee, taking orders, providing stellar customer service, and cleaning all on top of making time for friends. Sometimes I get disoriented, disorganized, and struggle with procrastinating. Lists have saved my life. I make a to-do list of top five things that I need to get done for the next day and I make sure I complete the list before I go to bed. It keeps me organized, on track, and is extremely inexpensive to do. You can use any notebook, post-it, calendar, regular sheet of white paper, etc. Basically, you can write on anything, just don’t forget to look at it as a reminder. You can also use the notes app on your Iphone if you have one.
Create a routine
Routines can look different for everyone, but find out what you like. Do you like to exercise in the morning? Do you like to cook? Play music? Fit in hobbies as well as work within your day and make it a routine—you will find it works wonders for your mental health. Studies have shown that people that create routines and stick to them have a more positive mindset and outlook on life. Try it.
Cut out any drama in your life
This is a tough one because we all experience drama in one form or another whether it be at work, school, university, relationships, personal life issues, etc. Try to avoid and or reduce the dramatics by finding sustainable solutions. For example, your mom keeps nagging you to fix the driveway or get the car to get fixed and it’s really annoying you, in order to keep the peace, it would be best to just go ahead and fix the driveway and go get the car fixed. Try to be kind and reasonable, but if a situation gets toxic such as in the workplace or in an abusive relationship, sometimes it’s best to just walk away and leave that situation. You will see your anxiety levels and stress reduce significantly.
Do one thing at a time
I’ve had several situations where I had multiple assignments and due dates due around the same time. As much as I’m prone to just shutting down, feeling overwhelmed and locking myself in my room and doing nothing, I have to start. I’ve found that once I start, things get moving, things start flowing, and before I know it, I’m finished with the assignment. It helps to focus on one task at a time, even when it comes to chores or to do lists because if you think about all three or 10 things you have to do all at the same time, it will just overwhelm you and nothing will get done. Doing tasks one at a time is key because your focus is not divided.
Turn to your faith
For me, this one is the most important one of all. The reason why I have a positive outlook is because of faith and I try not to let anxiety, stress, or bad news bring me down or consume me. I owe my faith to helping me overcome anxiety, and when I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed (yes I still do, I’m only human), I pray. Prayer is particularly powerful for me because I feel so much better after, and I leave it in God’s hands. I know he’s got me and is with me through the trials. Having the faith that amazing things can happen for you and that things will work out is what helps as well because incredible things that I’ve prayed for have come into fruition before, so I’m confident it can happen again. Sometimes all we need to do to overcome our anxiety, stress, and overwhelm is to breathe, pray, and keep the faith.