Alison McDowall, Co-Founder of The Positive Planner
Alison McDowall, Co-Founder of The Positive Planner

So far 2020 has felt like an upward climb with twists and turns that certainly weren’t in the plan! We have all had to dig deep and get used to being super flexible, adaptable and most of all resilient. Finding simple and easy ways of coping has been a life line for so many of us.

Here are my top tips that are free and easy to access when everything gets a little too much and you need find some calm in the chaos!

Get out of the house

No matter how hard it might feel to leave the the safety of your own home I am a big believer of changing your surroundings to help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. You don’t need to do anything drastic just simply get dressed, put your shoes on and get outside. Something as simple as a walk around the block can help you remember that there is a world outside of your head. It’s the little things you experience like the sound of birds or a smile exchanged with a stranger that can help you find a sense of calm.


Sounds like such an easy thing to do, right? Mastering breathing techniques can be the simplest and quickest way to calm your nervous system. When we are anxious and stressed our breathing speeds up and becomes irregular and erratic. This is when the sympathetic nervous system kicks into action. It pumps stress hormones like cortisol into our bloodstream and makes our heart rate speed up, leaving our bodies stressed out and in ‘survival mode’. What we want to do is to try and get into a parasympathetic state so that our breathing and heart rate slows down, blood pressure lowers and a sense of calm is restored.

Find time to move

Sometimes it really is the last thing you want to do. I get it. when you are anxious it’s hard to find the energy to spend on anything other than being worried! However as we all know our minds and our bodies are intertwined and it’s proven that getting the blood flowing really does improve your mood. It doesn’t have to be anything too serious, just find what works for your body and the main thing is to try and get the blood pumping around the body to increase your serotonin levels. Staying physically healthy can often be the key to keeping mentally healthy too. It’s all about balance!

Picture Credit: Pixabay
Picture Credit: Pixabay

Creativity to find escapism

Creativity looks different for everyone, it’s all about finding something that captures your imagination. Making time for a project that is a creative outlet for you can help to make sense of all the plates you have spinning at one time. Something repetitive or rhythmic will help your mind unwind and in turn release stress. Think of it like giving your head a hug. Whatever brings you back to the most authentic version of yourself is what you should be striving to make time for.

Human connection

Plan a chat with a trusted friend and grab a cuppa to have a good old fashioned chin wag. It’s free, fairly uncomplicated and can be such a mood booster for you. Try and be open about your feelings, it’s important to voice your truth with people you feel safe with. We all crave being heard and seen which is why this is such an important thing to do for our wellbeing. Hearing people coach us through these hard times not only reminds us that we are loved and valued but also allows us to gain another persons perspective on the things that are whirring around in our minds. 

I hope these tips will help armour you with free and practical solutions you can access when you need a boost!

For more ideas and inspiration visit our instagram page @the_positive_planner

Alison McDowall is a leading mental health advocate and the co-founder of

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