Maintaining a positive mental attitude at stressful times

Earlier this week therapist Imogen Wall shared some helpful information about the way our bodies react to stress and fear. The post is extremely relevant at the moment as the world is tackling a unique health crisis. However, feeling scared and anxious is part of everyday life for many people. Unfortunately, here at Merrick we often enter people’s lives when those feelings are at a peak and we do our best to play the role of a confidante and source of support and advice.

There will be times, especially at the moment, where worry and other negative feelings will be amplified by isolation, so below are some things that you can do alone and at home to help maintain a positive mental attitude.


Firstly, focus on your breathing. We hear this advice regularly, but do we act on it? The NHS recommends breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, deeply and steadily, for 3-5 minutes. There are also apps like Headspace and Oak which provide guided breathing, as well as meditation exercises. Headspace even conducts its own research proving the stress relieving effect of using these techniques. Anytime you are feeling overwhelmed, try to spend a few minutes focussing on your breathing and see if it has a positive effect on your mental state. You can also set reminders to give you a nudge if you’re busy.

Fresh air

Getting some fresh air can also be key to changing your mental state. If you are feeling down or stressed, get yourself out in to the world. If you can’t go for a walk or into a garden, open a window and breath in the fresh air. Not only will the deep breaths help to reduce anxiety and stress, but the smell of plants and flowers like rosemary, lavender and freshly cut grass have been shown to boost mood. Research has also confirmed that looking at nature can increase energy and vitality.

Avoid negative content

Isolation and anxiety can result in a lot of time spent in the dangerous world of our mobile phones. Although aspects of social media can be unifying and create a sense of community, a lot of the time the content that we expose ourselves to is idealistic, comparative and leads to self-judgement and criticism.

In fact, social media use has been directly linked to increased stress levels. So, if your focus is your mental state, too much time scrolling through your timeline can be incredibly damaging. We often spend hours on there without even realising it! Try to remove any content that causes you to question yourself or gives you anxiety. If it’s too hard to stay away, turn your phone off and put it in another room. Or just call a friend or family member who makes you feel comfortable. If you’re talking on it, you can’t be scrolling on it, it’s a win-win.

positive mental attitude

Try to do some exercise. Whatever you feel comfortable with and with whatever resources you have available. Aerobic exercises are most effective but even 20 minutes of yoga or a YouTube workout on your living room floor will boost the happy hormone serotonin and help to improve your mood and mental wellbeing. Exercise has also been shown to have antidepressant effects whilst also relieving anxiety due to the stimulated release of other hormones and endorphins. Even excluding the brilliant physical effects of exercise, getting moving is a great distraction as you focus on your body’s movements to achieve workout goals.


Finally, do more of the things you enjoy. Self-care comes in many forms, whether it’s running a bath, cooking a special meal, painting, walking the dog, gardening, meditation. The list goes on. Taking the time to indulge in activities that make you feel relaxed reminds us our needs are important, whilst improving your mood and boosting your energy levels. Don’t be afraid to be selfish sometimes. Treat your self-care as a priority rather than a luxury to develop a better quality of life for yourself and subsequently your loved ones.

Unfortunately stress is a part of daily life but there are times when it can become unmanageable. Acknowledging those times and acting to manage your anxieties is crucial to maintaining a positive mental attitude.

We hope these techniques inspire you be proactive about nurturing your mental health. We’ve written previously about managing your coronavirus anxiety.