One of the biggest challenges many are facing during this period of lockdown and self-isolation is the state of our mental wellbeing. Even if you’ve never struggled with depression or anxiety you may find yourself starting to battle this invisible enemy.
So, in this time, we need to remember not only to look out for and support others, but to be kind and lenient to ourselves as well.
We hope you’ll find the following pointers helpful as you navigate the weeks and months ahead.
- Concentrate on the good instead of the bad – there may be many things we’re no longer able to do and many people we’re no longer able to see, but there is a wealth of positive things we can shift our attention to, such as: the opportunity to slow down; finally having time to do those projects that have been on the backburner for ages; doing things we love like reading, painting, baking and the like; and taking time to invest in important relationships.
- Restrict your screen time – your phone may well be constantly buzzing with WhatsApp messages, Facebook notifications and Instagram comments, but trying to stay on top of all this communication can be exhausting. Try setting boundaries as to when you use your phone, laptop or tablet. Be present, be in the moment and enjoy what and who you have around you. Of course, for those who don’t have anyone else in the same home, online communication may be a lifeline, but even then, having a bit of your own ‘space’ can be really beneficial for your mental wellbeing.
- Focus on what’s in your control – we can get overly worried and anxious about COVID-19, but stopping the virus is completely out of our control. Instead focus on what you can do, like following government guidelines, looking after yourself and trying as much as you can to help those you love and live near.
- Make a daily plan – structure helps us more than we know. Staying at home without a plan can make us feel a bit purposeless, and that in turn can get us down. Even setting up something simple – like for example: wake up; exercise and shower; breakfast; creative time; lunch; house jobs; chatting to friends and loved ones; dinner and rest time – can massively improve our mood. We have a load of other ideas on routines you can check out here.
- Do the things you love or find a new hobby – whether it’s reading, gardening or doing star jumps, spend some time doing those things. Even if you have no motivation to get started, take the first step and the rest will come easier. If you’ve never had the time to nurture a hobby or find you’ve exhausted all your usual pastimes, why not try something new, like learning a new language or making sushi?
- Eat as well as you can – while stuck at home, it can be all too easy to reach for those unhealthy treats. But it’s important to remember that these things offer no nutritional value to our bodies, and so after that initial high, you’ll find yourself feeling worse. Healthy food gives us more energy, genuinely makes us feel better and can actually be delicious! If you struggle with self-control, try find yourself an accountability partner, and see if there’s anything you could help them in return.
- Do something nice for someone else – aim to do at least one nice thing for someone else every day. It doesn’t matter how big or small the act is, but it’ll boost your mood and make a big difference to that person’s day. It could be making someone a cup of tea, doing the washing up or simply telling a family member they look nice. A kind word goes a long way! Perhaps even forward this list on to someone you think needs it.
- Spend time with others – whether that’s in person (if you live with them) or via video or phone call, socialising does wonders for improving our mood. Play a game, do an exercise video together or simply sit and chat. We’re so fortunate to live in a time where we can still connect with friends and family even if we’re not physically allowed to see them.
- Make a short daily priority list – take each day as it comes and try not to think too far ahead. If you’re the kind of person who likes to get a million things done in a day, try and keep your list under five things. Particularly if you have children, to-do lists are even harder to accomplish. Be kind to yourself – you’ll feel much better if you tick everything off a short list than you would if you only ticked a few things off a longer list.
- Get outside and exercise – fresh air and exercise is well proven to improve mood, so even if you only get out for a short walk every day, it will do wonders for your mental wellbeing. However, if for some reason you can’t get out, there’s a multitude of exercise videos online that you could follow – everything from aerobics to handstands or even ballet.
It’s OK to sometimes feel sad, there’s nothing wrong with that – just do what works for you. However, try not to allow feelings of guilt to take over your mind – everyone’s capability and capacity is different. If you’re able to do one small positive thing for your mental wellbeing each day, you’re doing amazingly.