Dear Aunt Marvin
I am really stressed with lockdown and this whole Covid thing. Being stuck in a room working on mind-numbing video calls all day is making me so tense I’m falling apart. Everything annoys me. I’m eating more, drinking more and not laughing like I used to. Every time I start a video call I want to scream obscenities not pleasantries at the assorted heads on the screen. What can I do?
Aunty Marvin’s answer:
Lockdown has made madmen (and women) of us all. I understand your problem and why you’re stressed with the whole lockdown thing. It’s dragging on. It brings tiers to your eyes.
Stop tearing your hair out. Stress can do it for you
And actually don’t go pulling your hair out, as stress can do that for you anyway.
Telogen effluvium is characterized by the abrupt onset of hair loss – but, there’s a catch. The hair loss usually doesn’t begin until about three months after the inciting event. Why? Once hair follicles prematurely enter the telogen (shedding phase), it takes about three months for the cycle to complete and for the hair to shed. Stress is one of several triggers of telogen effluvium, so be careful especially if you’re on other medication or have low iron levels (like after a hip operation for example).
And that could be the least of your worries. Stress also causes mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorders. Add to that cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, and strokes.
There’s no doubt about it, you need to chill a bit.
5 ways to reduce stress
There’s lots of advice out there, but here’s my two-penneth worth (nb for the younger audience, that used to be money) to reduce your lockdown stress:
- Exercise. And I’m not talking a gentle stroll with the dog to the coffee shop. If you can’t squeeze in to lycra, or Joe Wickes doesn’t float your boat, then maybe a jog could do the trick. If you’re feeling really keen give Zwift a go.
- Turn off your screen and make some headspace time. Your brain can only cope with so much screen or video time before it effectively “fills” and your concentration wanes (more time, less output). Put “Strategy Update” in your diary and go for a walk. Anyone looking in your diary will think you’re busy, and actually walking increases creativity, so you may be solving that impossible problem you’ve always wanted to resolve.
- Block out some time to call someone special who can distract you from what you’re doing. A complete change of thinking can help reset the tolerance levels and laughter can significantly reduce stress levels.
- Stand up while you’re on calls. The movement helps dissipate any stress. Being stood up can also literally give you a different perspective.
- Have a cup of tea. I can thoroughly recommend making a nice cup of tea as a way to relax. Make sure you find something to accompany it. Blueberry muffin for example. The activity will be distracting, tea contains relaxants and as for the cake, sometimes you have to spoil yourself…
If you are stressed with lockdown it can have a big impact on your body and mind. It’s something that sounds trite but it’s not. Don’t ignore the warning signs. I did. #grey.
Still stressed with lockdown? You may need proper support…
On a serious note, avoid too much in the way of drugs and alcohol, and if you do find yourself struggling to moderate you should try professional support that can be supplied by an organised charity or support group such as: