Mental health is an critical part of
general well-being. Taking time to check in with your mental health is
essential, particularly during these times, as a deteriorating mental or
emotional state can impact severely on every aspect of your life. Do spend quality
time and thought on your mental health and make checking in with yourself a
habit now and beyond Covid-19.
- Exercise – Physical activity can focus the mind, relieve stress and release endorphins which trigger a positive feeling in the body. Refer to the “raise your heart rate once a day” point in the previous section for some examples of home workouts.
- Laugh – Genuine laughter can make you feel a lot better, so seek things that make you laugh. Everyone has a different sense of humour, so go to what makes you laugh whether it’s watching your favourite comedian on TV, reading a book, watching a comedy film, chatting to someone who makes you laugh, or even silly memes, videos, and pictures people post on social media. Read more about the power of laughter.
- Take a break – Breaks are really important, especially now. Be kind to yourself and take yourself away from whatever you are doing if you need to. Do something completely different, so if you are using a computer relax in the bath instead, or if you are doing some exercise switch off with a book instead. Listen to your body and your mind to avoid burnout.
- Hobbies –
Spend time on your hobbies or pick up a new one. Is there something you’ve
always wanted to do, a hobby you’ve been neglecting, or a pastime you enjoyed before
that you want to keep up? Whether it’s knitting, gaming, playing an instrument
or juggling, a lot of hobbies can be adapted to allow you to practice inside.
Some hobbies like swimming or parachuting won’t be adaptable so consider using
this time to pick up a new skill. YouTube hosts many tutorial videos on various
hobbies and skills.
- Volunteer – Join a volunteer scheme to call vulnerable and isolated people. This can really help both them and you as you can have a chat to provide them with some social contact, and can make you feel like you have made a difference.
- Meditate – Meditation takes practice but can be a powerful exercise to calm the mind and focus on the self. Doing just ten minutes a day can make a difference to mental well-being. There are lots of great mediation videos available on the internet for all abilities. If you have Instagram, check out Jess who does a great Instagram Live meditation every day at 4pm GMT. Check out apps like PureGym, Headspace, and calm app for some examples and choose one that fits best with you.
- Call a friend – Keep in touch with friends and family, social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t speak to anyone. There is always someone on the end of the phone, you just need to call them. With the power of technology, it is much easier to keep in touch with people. There are lots of video chat platforms available that allow more than two devices into the conversation. Check out some creative ways people are keeping in touch with friends and family here and here.
- Be supportive of others – This is a difficult time for everyone. Whether you are self-isolating or surrounded by family, everyone will be finding this period tough. Be there for friends, family and loved ones. Call them for a chat or send them funny pictures you’ve seen on the internet. They may be feeling similar emotions to you as this situation is so different to normal life, so be as patient, understanding and supportive with them as you are with yourself.
- Get some fresh air – If you have a garden or balcony, try to go outside every day and get some fresh air. Check out your government rules, and if possible go for a walk around the block. Staying inside all day can make you feel trapped, so being able to go outside can help you to feel free.
- Switch off – Do things that allow you to switch off, whether it’s watching a film, listening to music or reading a book, allow your mind to escape into the world of entertainment.
- Reflect – You can use this opportunity to pause and reflect on yourself and your life. Are there any bad habits you’d like to stop, any hobbies or skills you want to take up, is there anything you have been spending a lot of time on that could be better spent elsewhere? Taking time to reflect can have lots of benefits, read more about them and tips for reflection here.
- Seek to control only your immediate environment – In any situation, but particularly this one,
there is only so much you can control. Trying to control things outside of your
area of influence can lead to frustration and hopelessness. Instead, focus on
what is within your ability to control, for example: what you eat that day,
whether you get out of bed, who you speak to. Read more about this here.
- Celebrate the small wins – Did you get dressed today? Win! Did you eat a meal today? Well done! During this time, it is important to acknowledge the things that we take for granted in normal daily life. At the end of each day think about what you’ve done and congratulate yourself for it, no matter how big or small – it’s all an achievement.
- Break it down – Sometimes even getting to the end of the day can seem like an impossible task, let alone achieving a bigger goal. No matter your goal, break it down into smaller steps. Try making a to-do list and include everything you want to do that day, from getting out of bed to doing some exercise, then tick each off as you complete it. By the end of the day you’ll be able to look back at everything you’ve accomplished and feel a sense of achievement which will motivate you further. Breaking a goal down will make the endpoint seem a lot less daunting and a lot more achievable.
- Establish structure – When you aren’t going to work or going about your daily routine, it’s hard to maintain structure and motivation, especially if you’re unwell. Try to add structure to your day, you can still be flexible but adopting some sort of routine will help you stay motivated to maintain your physical and mental health. The structure can be as simple as showering in the morning, having regular meals, arranging to call a friend at a certain time etc. It can help to plan loosely what your day will look like the day or night before. Having structure can improve your motivation and give you points throughout your day to look forward to.
- Allow yourself to feel – Ignoring or squashing feelings may work in the short-term, but should be avoided as a long-term strategy. Whatever the emotion you’re feeling, allow yourself to experience it. It won’t last forever and when the feelings subside you can use that emotional energy in a positive way. It’s healthy and normal to experience emotions, so rather than push them away try to acknowledge them allow them to run their course then dust yourself off afterwards. Try to see them as your mind’s way of sending you a reminder, like a warning light in a car. See how you can address the cause and use the emotion positively, so if you feel lonely pick up the phone, if you feel stressed take a break, if you feel overwhelmed meditate. Read about the importance of experience emotions, recognizing emotions, and practical ways to manage emotions.
- Stay grounded – While allowing yourself to experience the emotions you are feeling is important, it is equally important to stay grounded and not be controlled by them. Staying grounded gives you the ability to experience emotions safely, being influenced but not controlled by them and channelling this energy positively to grow from the experience. If you feel that you are letting your emotions and feelings control you, try some of the advice in this course, or have a quick Google to find techniques to stay grounded.
- Indulge yourself – While it’s important to eat healthily, be active and mindful, it’s also important to not be too strict with yourself. If you fancy a bar of chocolate it’s ok to eat it, if you fancy watching several episodes of your favourite TV series back to back: do it! Allow yourself to indulge in the things that make you happy, it’s all about balance.
- Too much news – Keep up to date with the latest information about COVID-19 from trusted sources, but avoid too much news and fake news/speculation/opinion as it can be upsetting and scary. Consider turning off notifications on your phone from apps like the news to give yourself a break and try to limit your news intake to once or twice a day.
- Thinking about the future – Due to the nature of Covid-19, the future is uncertain and things change day to day – this fear of the unknown can produce high levels of stress. But avoid trying to predict the future, this will not last forever and life will return to normal – whether it takes weeks, months or years. Take strength from that and focus on the knowledge that normality will happen again, rather than worrying about when it will happen.