2020 was the mother of all years. It’s fair to say that as the global pandemic extends into 2021 it has shaken so many of us, as we’ve stayed away from friends, work colleagues and family. For some this meant having more time to try new skills – baking sour dough bread, reupholstering chairs, learning musical instruments and figuring out how to video chat! For others it’s been tough feeling isolated and fearful. In Australia, some are still experiencing tough lockdowns and we do so with a sense of hope, but many people are feeling burnt out and tired.

Here’s a few tips which we hope might help:

Tip 1 – Read a book

Turn your phone, iPad or laptop off and pick up a book! Books are a great way to escape the real world for a little while. Too tired to read? Try an audio book through apps like Audible or Sribd.com, pop in your ear buds, close your eyes and just relax.

Tip 2 – Have a warm bath

There’s a reason that long warm baths have been popular since ancient times. According to a 2016 Loughborough University led study, baths have many proven benefits. Soaking in a tub can help reduce sugar spikes after eating, help the immune system, ease muscular pain and improve sleep quality. Adding bath salts or oils can also enhance relaxation.

Tip 3 – Make friends with plants

Getting your hands dirty can be beneficial! Gardening allows you to get moving while also relieving stress. The bonus of gardening outside is the vitamin D. If you don’t have a garden, or you don’t have a lot of space, perhaps consider planting some herbs or small plants in pots, or visit a community garden which can foster feelings of connection. Alternatively, get out into nature, to walk or hike. Being around trees can be helpful in reducing stress levels.

Tip 4 – Friend time

Hanging out with your gal pals can help you relax! Studies conducted at Stanford University confirmed that when women spend time with female friends they are more likely to have surges of serotonin and oxytocin, both considered “happy hormones” which can leave you feeling more positive.

Tip 5 – Get more sleep

While the benefits of sleep are well known, many women don’t get enough of it. Hormonal changes, especially during peri-menopause and menopause can cause restless nights. Lack of sleep can cause additional stress. If sleep is elusive, sleepfoundation.org recommends avoiding large meals, caffeine, nicotine and alcohol before bed. Wearing light weight clothing in breathable fabrics may be more comfortable. Consider using a fan or air conditioning to regulate the room temperature. It may be beneficial to stop looking at your phone or technology at least an hour before bed, as blue light can have an impact on sleep patterns. Regular exercise and relaxing baths can be helpful for quality sleep also. However, if sleep continues to be elusive, consider talking to your GP who can advise about treatments that might help.