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Coping with stress during Covid-19

This news post is almost 4 years old

A new study has detailed the methods of how people are getting by during the coronavirus pandemic

Going for a walk, speaking to loved ones and spending time outdoors have been identified as some of the best ways of coping with stress during Covid-19.

The Mental Health Foundation and collaborating universities have released new research which details how Scots are coping during the pandemic.

Going out for a walk is most people’s favourite coping strategy, with six in ten (61%) who have felt stressed saying they found it helpful. 

Keeping in contact with family members (51%) and friends (49%) were named as the next most helpful ways of managing, among those who have felt stressed about the pandemic.  

Being able to visit parks and other green spaces is the fourth most popular coping mechanism, mentioned as helpful by almost half (48%) of those who have experienced stress.

The findings highlight factors that can help prevent mental health problems and are published in the week of World Mental Health Day (Saturday 10 October). 

Lee Knifton, Mental Health Foundation, director for Scotland and Northern Ireland, said: “The good news here is that at a very difficult time for many of us, millions of people across Scotland and the UK are using effective ways to improve their wellbeing. 

“Going out for a walk, being in contact with family and friends and visiting green spaces are great ways for us all to protect our mental health and prevent problems. Wider research evidence, as well as our latest survey findings, make this very clear. 

“Our new findings matter for policy, which can make it easier or harder for people to cope at a time that is stressful for millions of us. 

“We welcome the Scottish Government’s intention to publish a transition and recovery plan, with a mental health in all policies approach. However, we believe that the plan should be extended to other government departments such as justice and broader economic policy. Also, the plan must be backed by an ambitious financial package to achieve maximum impact and ensure credibility. The Scottish Government should also protect and facilitate people’s access to nature and ensure the continued inclusion of a period of daily physical activity when deciding on future lockdown restrictions.

“At a time of local restrictions, it’s more important than ever that local authorities invest in improving our neighbourhoods and leisure areas, to create safe, green spaces for outdoor activities.” 

The new research is part of the Coronavirus: Mental Health and the Pandemic study by the Mental Health Foundation, in partnership with the universities of Cambridge, Swansea, Strathclyde, Queen’s Belfast and de Montfort.  

The latest findings are from a YouGov survey done 27 August - 3 September 2020, among a nationally representative sample of 2,049 Scottish adults. It asked participants what had helped them cope in the previous two weeks. 

The survey also found that nearly four in ten people (38%) who had experienced stress because of the pandemic said that maintaining a healthy lifestyle, such as sleeping well and eating healthily, had helped them cope. 

Four in ten people (41%) said that doing a hobby was helpful. 

Overall, just over eight in ten (84%) of Scottish adults surveyed said they had experienced stress because of the pandemic. 

Professor Tine Van Bortel, from the University of Cambridge and De Montfort University Leicester, said: “There’s a growing body of strong research evidence about the determinants of our health and wellbeing. That is replicated by our findings. Access to nature and safe green spaces, positive social contacts, healthy lifestyles and meaningful activities are all crucial, for us to function well.”