Whether you are still in the midst of another COVID-19 lockdown restriction, or you are slowly starting to return to your workplace, each one of us has experienced substantial change in our life since the pandemic first began. Combining this new routine - often very isolating in itself - with constant uncertainty and anxiety can mean we can often feel incredibly overwhelmed by our new reality, which can lead to many struggling with their mental health.
This week, in honour of the upcoming World Mental Health Day – we have put together a number of tips from reliable sources like WHO and the NHS related to mental wellness. Whilst they may be advice you are well aware of, we hope this post serves as a reminder to re-prioritise these actions in your life. Burnout from work, studies and grappling with the new reality of living that we are now faced with as a result of COVID-19 can mean that whilst such advice is well-known, sometimes we can lose our focus and we are unable to keep ourselves motivated to continue. This does not mean we cannot ever get back on track; small but consistent steps forward is the best method of progress in these situations. Take it one day at a time.
TIP #1: Connect with other people
Living through a pandemic has highlighted just how important having a strong support system around you is, and how impactful regularly connecting with those you love can be on your mental wellbeing. Sometimes, overwhelming feelings can become less of a burden when you take the time to talk about them with your most trusted friends/family members, or your partner. Though COVID-19 and social distancing measures have made interactions with our loved ones harder, technology has made it easier for us to do so. If your country’s rules allow it, try to meet up with those you care about as regularly as possible, staying safe and wearing a mask whilst you do so. Even a couple of hours on a weekend with your friend can rejuvenate you and inject a little more energy and motivation into your daily tasks for the rest of the week.
TIP #2: Start/re-engage with a hobby or learning
Did you ever have a hobby like painting, dancing or even knitting? Then now is the perfect time for you to reconnect with your old hobby, as it can give you a sense of accomplishment – which lets you develop positive emotions.
If not, you can always start a new hobby or learn a new skill that you have been curious about. Learning something new not only brings variety in a person’s life, but it helps to keep the mind sharp whilst raising self-esteem. Engaging in your hobbies or learning a new skill can also help you meet and connect with new people or even your friends and family, and remember, this doesn’t even have to be face-to-face if you do not feel comfortable doing so. There are so many creative communities online and many workshops and online events you can join for free/paid, regardless of where you live in the world.
TIP #3: Try to be physically active
You may be wondering how mental health and physical health correlate, but they are more connected than you think. Evidence shows that being physically active can improve your mental wellbeing by boosting your self-esteem, as well as cause chemical changes in your brain that can help you develop a positive mood (NHS, 2019). If you have the time and capacity, pick a sport and start playing (no matter what level you may feel you are!) or start hitting up your local gym wherever and whenever you can - some local parks also have an outdoor free gym station. If you are still stuck in lockdown/isolation, then you can use the thousands of videos on Youtube with a variety of workouts in order to exercise from the comfort of your home.
Alternatively, if you are someone who dislikes intensive workouts and physical sports, why not opt for something like pilates and mindfulness, which can be very beneficial for your physical and mental health. Either way, regular movement helps you escape from the lethargic state that can often settle in as a result of being physically stagnant. Whilst watching Netflix, reading books and making art are all great to relax your mind, we all need a good balance between different types of achieving better wellbeing. Even if you just start off with a brisk walk to your nearby grocery shop or a 10 minute a day activity in your garden or space indoors, starting is often the biggest challenge when it comes to developing a new routine, so you’re already winning!
TIP #4: Get Good Sleep
As basic as this sounds, sleep is sometimes the most important and effective thing you can do to manage your feelings. In particular, good-quality sleep makes a big difference to how we feel mentally and physically, so it's important to get enough of it (NHS, 2021). If you’re struggling with sleep, try natural remedies such as having a warm drink before sleeping, burning/diffusing lavender oil in your bedroom, or even speak to your doctor about it. Avoid ‘screen time’ before bed by putting away your mobile or other devices at least 30 minutes before going to sleep to help your mind relax. Also try to develop a routine by going to sleep around the same time to help regulate your body clock and make falling asleep easier. If your room is not dark enough or there is a constant background noise, try wearing an eye mask and ear buds to aid sleeping.
TIP #5: Build a healthy lifestyle
We all know that a healthy, balanced diet impacts how we feel, and that trying to get rid of habits like smoking, alcohol and excessive caffeine consumption will have a strong positive effect on our mood. Whilst it can be difficult to undertake a complete overhaul of our nutritional lifestyle in a short amount of time, slowly working towards better habits when it comes to what we eat/ingest is so important for our mental wellbeing. We also don’t have to completely cut things out, but instead try to replace them with healthier alternatives. For example, instead of drinking multiple cups of coffee a day - which can increase feelings of anxiety - why not reduce that number to a maximum of one or two per day, and replace the other hot drinks with herbal teas such as mint or green tea? Whatever works for you is the best method of approach, as long as there is a clear goal in mind.
We hope these tips will not only help you achieve greater mental wellbeing, but also help you to develop a more positive lifestyle routine and mindset, so you can build your healthier and happier future! Make sure to share this article with your friends and family, follow us on social media (twitter, facebook, instagram, linkedin) and tag us if you reach any key milestones in your journey of self-care! Also, make sure to subscribe to our mailing list below for regular updates and campaigns!