At Everyday Loans, we’ve long recognised the importance of meeting our customers face to face, in our branches, during their repayment period. It’s proven to help get them back onto a firmer financial footing and return to mainstream lending. It also means that we get to know each other really well.
It’s such relationships that have stood us in good stead during recent weeks. Despite not being able to meet up in our branches due to the coronavirus pandemic, our local customer account managers have kept in touch on the phone and via video call platforms – continuing to provide invaluable ongoing support and guidance during these unprecedented times.
And times are tough for all of us. There are 7.5htmillion furloughed workers in the UK with an estimated 6.5million future job losses predicted due to the economic fallout of Covid-19. Add to these stresses home-schooling – often whilst home working – social isolation and a lack of daily structure, and it’s not hard to see why so many of us are feeling the pressure.
All of these factors have an impact on not only our financial health, but also our mental health. Loneliness, anxiety and feelings of isolation are taking their toll on our collective state of mind. Studies show particular concern about the impact of post-lockdown economic hardship on it and experts have just warned that our stress and anxiety levels have soared by almost 50% during lockdown.
There’s lots of advice out there to help combat current Covid-19 stresses, and here’s our roundup of what to try.
1. Try to adopt – and stick to – a routine
We know how important routine is, especially for kids, but also for the not-so-smalls. With schools still closed and many of us working from home – or certainly indoors more than usual – schedules have shifted or disappeared altogether. Unstructured time can create boredom, spikes in anxiety or depression. It can also cause “decision fatigue” – overwhelming exhaustion that can come from too many options.
It’s much better for our mental health to try to keep a routine going, as best we can, to provide structure in uncertain times. Find advice on how to do that here.
2. Get outdoors – and enjoy nature – if you can
Spending time in green space or bringing nature into your everyday life can bring real benefits to mental and physical wellbeing.
It’s obviously much easier to take in nature if you live in the countryside or suburbs, but there are plenty of places for city dwellers to enjoy it too – just remember to social distance. Growing food or flowers – even in window boxes – can also hit the spot.
Simply being outside in natural daylight can work wonders on your mood. As can these light nights and sunshine. Find more advice on the benefits of nature on mental health here.
3. Kick-start an at-home exercise routine
Before lockdown, more than 10million of us had memberships at 7000 gyms. Despite their doors still being closed, there are lots of ways to work out and feel the benefits at home.
There are all sorts of options – from the likes of Joe Wick’s workouts on his YouTube channel to dusting off those workout DVDs and weights from a long-forgotten place. Many online classes are offering free access or longer free trial periods, which is worth looking in to as it saves money too.
Exercise brings with it so many emotional and mental health benefits – as well as the physical – by releasing feel-good chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin. Good news is that dancing, in particular, increases oxytocin and promotes social connection and bonding, which has never been more important than in these times of social distancing! Find out more about the benefits of exercise on mental health here.
4. Declutter and organise your home
If you have the time and inclination, blitzing your home of clutter – and organising cupboards and shelves – can be a really good and easy way to feel productive and regain control. Just remember not to take it too far! Find out more about why cleaning and organising is so therapeutic when we’re stressed here.
5. Meditate – or even just take a deep breath
Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to the present moment, using techniques like meditation, breathing and yoga. It helps us become more aware of our thoughts and feelings so that, instead of being overwhelmed by them, we’re better able to manage them.
Mental health charity Mind, says: ‘Studies show that practising mindfulness can help to manage depression, some anxiety problems and feelings of stress.’
There are lots of apps that could help with coronavirus anxiety but if meditation isn’t your thing, just breathing slowly could do the trick. Take a look at this calming breathing technique for stress, anxiety and panic that takes just a few minutes and can be done anywhere.
6. Stay socially connected
We’re inherently social creatures, so not meeting up with family and friends, going to work, the pub or the gym and socially distancing is hard.
It’s so important for our mental health to try and stay connected with others during lockdown, so it’s great that video calls have become part of daily life since the pandemic hit – helping everyone to keep in touch – for work and play.
Popular apps like Houseparty and Zoom continue to dominate the top free downloads for both the App Store and Google Play store. Here’s a roundup of the best video chat platforms and apps worth downloading now, to keep in contact with all of your loved ones and work pals during the lockdown and beyond. You can find advice on how to stay connected during lockdown here.
7. Don’t be so hard on yourself
This last point is possibly the most important thing to keep in mind – try not to beat yourself up when things aren’t quite perfect in your day-to-day.
Trying to juggle childcare, home schooling and work is not easy – not to mention little chance for downtime or a moment of daily solitude. This can play havoc on stress and anxiety levels – leaving many of us feeling guilty or inadequate.
We simply can’t be all things to all people, all of the time. It’s about making the situation work as best it can for you. So what if the kids are watching too much Netflix and not enough time on schoolwork. It really isn’t the end of the world – just take a deep breath and pause for a moment.
It’s widely recognised that lockdown learning has been a huge adjustment for all families, and for many it’s really challenging. Such is the issue that a national helpline has recently been launched to support parents.
Set up by a group comprising academy trusts and parenting groups, the Starline helpline is the manned by teachers and education specialists and is open five days a week.
Here’s some really useful tips about parenting young children during lockdown. You’re really not alone and these may help lessen the stress.
Find more information on Coronavirus and your mental health here from Mental Health UK.