Post Pandemic Stress Disorder is not officially recognised as a mental health condition but symptoms are similar to those of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These can vary but may include:
Feelings of hopelessness.
Feeling out of control.
Increased or decreased appetite.
Withdrawing from social situations.
Being easily agitated.
Catastrophic thinking and imagining the worst.
If you were functioning well before the pandemic and are now experiencing these symptoms, it is likely you are experiencing PPSD. If these symptoms are occurring regularly you may need to talk to a health professional and a good first stop would be your GP.
Covid has been challenging for the best of us and there is never any shame in recognising and asking for help (quite the contrary in fact).
Stress Management can be very useful and steps that can help this are:
Regular exercise - exercise reduces our production of cortisol (our stress hormone. It also releases our feel good hormones (endorphins). However, the most important thing is to find an activity you enjoy doing otherwise you will never stick to it. Consult your GP before taking part in any strenuous physical activity and gradually build it up.
Practise yoga - yoga helps to relax your body and calm your mind, as well as providing great exercise for your heart. It has been found to lower blood pressure and your risk of developing heart disease.
It's also a good excuse to get time for you and you alone !
Relaxation breathing exercises -so many of us never think of the way we breathe....concentrating on our breathing is a great stress buster and one of the first things I show clients who experience panic attacks (if you're concentrating on your breath you can't panic at the same time)!
Relaxation exercises bring more oxygen into our body and this can have an effect on blood pressure levels and stress hormones.
A good sleep routine - Organise a manageable bedtime routine and allow yourself to unwind before going to bed. Leave your devices downstairs or if you need your phone alarm then put it on flight mode or DND so it won't disturb you. A good night's sleep is thought to be 7-9 hours but we are all different. If your sleeping less than that but surviving well through the day then maybe you don't need more.
Socialise - It is so good for our mental health to spend time with friends and loved ones and it has even been found to release oxytocin which is our natural stress-relieving chemical. Strong friendship groups have also been linked to better recovery after traumatic health events and to longer life spans.
Set boundaries - knowing when and how to say no is so important for anyone who struggles with stress. It's no good trying to please everyone at our own expense and diluting our efforts into the bargain!!
Schedule in time for you, as well as for others, rather than trying to be everywhere with everyone, all the time.
Where can you find support?
If you are struggling with your mental health - either as a result of the pandemic or other life events - you can contact the Samaritans for urgent support..........