Every April since 1992 health care professionals and health promotion experts across the UK join forces to increase public awareness of the causes and cures for stress via Stress Awareness Month.

Research has shown that 65% of people in the UK have felt more stressed since the COVID-19 restrictions began in March 2020. The three key causes for concern are feelings of disconnection, uncertainty and a worrying loss of control.

As we move out of lockdown the prospect of returning to our former lives is becoming a tangible possibility. While this news will have many breathing a sigh of relief – others will be nervous about returning to work, pubs, restaurants and shops. In this week’s blog, we’re offering our tips on how to manage your stress levels and readjust as lockdown measures are slowly eased.  

Go at your own pace

Social distancing has been an intense experience for everyone and has taken a considerable toll on the population. Many introverts are discovering that they have retreated further into their own space than before and the prospect of reemerging post-lockdown is one that instils them with great anxiety. 

There will be an initial awkwardness for everyone – however, others may have to really push themselves to reconnect with people as restrictions are lifted. It’s important not to compare your transition from lockdown to others; you may find it easier to adapt to smaller adjustments, as opposed to large, sudden changes. Reintroduce activities and habits back into your routine at a pace that feels comfortable for you.

Go outside

If you’ve been cooped up indoors during lockdown, a good way to readjust to the outside world is to go for daily walks. Physical exercise can metabolise these stress hormones and restore your body to a more relaxed state. A stroll through a spacious, suburban area like Peterborough One will help you re-establish that leaving the house can be a safe experience when adhering to the appropriate social distancing rules. 

Even if it’s your own back garden, being in an outdoor environment surrounded by greenery, shrubs and flowers will also help to clear your thoughts. As the weather improves this April, there is no better time to start gardening and, of course, the act of making your own personal stretch of nature into a haven can be a powerful stress reliever in itself. 

With over 60 years of experience in garden retailing, Van Hage has a unique range of equipment, seeds and much more. This huge store has all you need to start cultivating your little patch of heaven! 

Returning to work

Over the next few months, more employers will begin to reopen their workplaces. Many may be looking forward to this – but for some the prospect of returning to the office may cause anxiety, especially if you have been working from home for months.

If you’re apprehensive about visiting your workplace, ask your employer to confirm what changes have been made to ensure that the environment is ‘COVID-secure’. If you’re still feeling nervous, perhaps negotiate a phased return and arrange to go back to your work place one or two days a week at first. 

If you’re worried about utilising public transport, consider travelling outside of peak times – or you may be able to cycle, walk or drive. Remember, other people will be returning to work gradually and many will be working from home more, therefore public transportation will likely not be as crowded as it once was. If you’re having to get the train or a bus, bring an engrossing book with you – this can be an excellent way to ease the initial nerves of venturing onto public transport after many months. The Works currently have a 3 for £5 offer on fiction novels – to order, visit their website and get stuck into a real page-turner! 

Friends, family and pets

During the lockdown, friends and family members have been separated – thankfully, many of us have had our pets to keep us company! Interacting with animals has been proven to decrease levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) and lower blood pressure, consequently reducing anxiety. Why not reward your furry friend for helping you through this difficult time? Pets Corner have a variety of treats, toys and other accessories for your loyal companion! 

With the ‘rule of six’ eased this month, we can now venture out and meet people outside. This means that we can finally see our loved ones face to face – albeit from an appropriate social distance. 

For many, this interaction will be a great way to boost your wellbeing and is especially important if you’ve been shielding alone, but you might find it feels strange at first. It is therefore important to follow these simple steps when interacting to keep the infection risk as low as possible:

  • Meet outdoors rather than indoors – the virus is much less likely to be passed on outside.
  • Meet in open spaces rather than crowded areas – try a walk in nature.
  • Limit the number of people you meet – for example, you could try not to socialise more than once in a day. 
  • Wash your hands before and after meeting someone.
  • Don’t share items like cutlery or food if you’re eating together.
  • Follow all of the social distancing advice.

Going shopping

Last, but by no means least, retail therapy is a great way of engaging all the senses! With non-essential stores set to open on the 12th of April – some will be eager to visit Peterborough’s many great retail offerings. 

On the other hand, many will feel uneasy about returning to the shops. We want to reaffirm to those who remain hesitant, that the well-being of our customers and staff is of paramount importance. Our stores have been adhering closely to the guidelines issued by the government, as a result of this, we are proud to say that Peterborough One Retail Park is a safe environment to shop and work. 

For more information on our health and safety protocol, visit our Facebook and Twitter pages. 

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