Restrictions are starting to ease, schools are back and there’s hope on the horizon. However, things are still up in the air and many of us continue to struggle with our mental health. This isn’t something you should be hard on yourself about. We’re out of a routine, we can’t see family and friends in the way that we’d like just yet and we’re trying to keep safe. There’s a lot going on.
The pandemic has meant a different style of life. Not only has our physical health been implicated due to limitations on what we can do and where we can go, but staying at home more regularly means risk to our mental health too, especially for those home alone.
Below are a few top tips to help you, your family, and your friends with your mental health throughout these difficult times.
Try to stay connected
At times when we’re feeling stressed, we tend to feel better when speaking to friends, family and colleagues. Ask questions, how are you feeling today? How are you managing with work? It’s great to chat about how you’re feeling but also asking how others are getting on too. So many people around you are facing the same challenges.
We’re also very fortunate to have technology around us which means we can stay in touch with people on social media, Zoom, e-mail or on the phone with just a click of a button. Just because someone might not be a part of your social bubble, doesn't mean you can't catch up. Of course, it’s not the same as seeing somebody in person, but these are all still great ways of being close to the people who matter to you the most.
So many of us are in limbo with our working lives, and without having a sense of routine, it’s very easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour that ultimately make you feel worse.
Try eating healthy, well-balanced meals and exercising often. Short bursts of physical activity will allow you to destress and remain active, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go for a walk or run, you could do some dancing, play with your children or even join a virtual fitness class.
Going for a 30 minute walk once a day will also help boost your mood. Just by getting out of the house and into the fresh air to break your day up on your lunch break, or after work.
Meditation and deep breaths can help you remain calm. The littlest things that you might believe are pointless can be extremely beneficial to clearing your mind and help to shift your thoughts.
Try focussing on the things that you can control. Keep your surroundings clean and organised and your mental state will follow. There are also plenty of meditation apps and e-books available too.
Carry on doing the things you enjoy
Make a little bit of effort to focus on your favourite things to do, if it’s something you can still do in line with the current government guidelines. Cooking, baking, listening to music, watching films, reading. Why not give something new a try? Colouring books, painting, knitting, jigsaws and other things you can find lying around the house are good creative outlets and help with expressing emotions.
Look after your sleep
Good quality sleep makes a big difference to how you feel. It’s so important to make sure you’re getting enough sleep and if you can, try and wind down before lights out. Avoid bright screens before bed, and opt for reading or meditating to help you decompress. There’s lots of useful resources out there to help with better quality sleep such as Calm and Headspace.
Share an act of kindness
Not only does doing something kind for someone else help them, but it can also give you a positive boost. It's important to remember that anybody can be going through a difficult time and that we should be kind. Sharing an act of kindness throughout this pandemic could be exactly what someone else needs. There’s a few suggestions below to inspire you:
- Donating to foodbanks
- Donating to a charity
- Sending a motivational text to a friend who’s struggling
- Contacting someone you’ve not seen in a while and arranging a virtual catch up or a walk
- Sending a care package to a friend or family member
- Lending your ear – calling a colleague to ask how they’re finding the change in routine
- Sending a letter or postcard to a loved one
- Volunteering for a befriending service to keep someone company over telephone such as the elderly or those completely isolated
- Volunteering to help vulnerable individuals in your area
Spreading your kindness can play a big part in making everyone’s world better. Remember, even if you can only offer/afford a little or do a small act, the impact of this will still be huge.
We have various resources discussing mental health from a variety of perspectives, why not give some of them a look over?
Remember we're in this together, you can always check up on others as well as ask for support yourself from the people around you.
There are a range of mental health services and ways for you to reach out, help is always available.