To stay healthy and focused during stressful times, put the following into practice:
1 Maintain healthy habits—Try to eat regular and nutritious meals and drink at least 2 litres of water a day. Limit intake of alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and refined sugars. Try to get the 7 hours of sleep that most of us need.
2 Practice physical exercise/active relaxation—This will help to build resilience, lower stress levels and give your mood a natural boost.
3 Invest in relationships—Stay in regular contact with family and friends. Invest in building relationships with people around you. Share concerns but try to stay positive. Monitor and encourage each other.
4 Identify what is under your control and what is not—Try not to stress over things that are NOT under your control. Develop a plan of action for the things that ARE under your control.
5 Review how you think—Avoid ruminating, speculating and ‘catastrophizing’. Remind yourself how you managed challenges in the past and focus on achievements, even if small.
6 Change focus by doing something you enjoy—Have a repertoire of simple time-out activities that you do regularly.
7.Observe spiritual practices –This will help you to find meaning and stay connected with your inner strength.
8 Think about something that makes you feel good—Positive emotions help you heal from negative emotional experiences.
9 Take time off—Use your leave entitlement and try to have at least one day off per week. Take mini-breaks throughout the day. This will help you maintain efficiency, perspective and health.
10 Breathe—It is physiologically incompatible to be focused on breathing slowly and be stressed out at the same time.
Breathing Exercise: Let yourself breathe normally—in and out— a few times. Then breathe in through your nose for a count of 3, hold for a count of 3, then release to a count of 5. Take normal breaths and then repeat the slow breath.
Repeat this breathing cycle for a few minutes.