Today, World Mental Health Day, will undoubtably touch the hearts of more people than ever before. We are universally experiencing one of the biggest challenges ever faced. During these uncertain times, we all need to keep an eye on our mental health, regardless of whether we have a mental health issue or not.
Whether you live alone, with friends, your parents or young children, lockdown brought its own set of concerns, such as loneliness, isolation, confinement, home-schooling, working from home or not working at all. One of the most important aspects of caring for our mental health is human contact – sharing time with people who make us laugh, who listen, who care. We have all been separated from people who bring joy to our lives.
As restrictions began to ease, we were stepping out into an unrecognisable new world. Desperate to make contact with the loved ones we’d missed, we were unprepared for the obstacles that lay ahead.
We are now in the midst of regional lockdowns, and it may feel as though there is no end in sight. As we navigate our way through this uneven landscape, our coping strategies are ever-changing. Here are some ideas you might find helpful.
Stay in touch your way
After spending so much time at home during lockdown, you may have become withdrawn. As you longed to reunite with loved ones, you might have subsequently experienced fear and anxiety in doing so. Remember you are not alone. We are all facing this universal challenge together, but we all handle it differently. Masks, social distancing and screens make human interaction hard, so be kind to yourself, and do what feels comfortable for you.
Make time for you
Everyone’s routine has changed to varying degrees. No matter how busy or quiet you are, make time for yourself. Whether you relax in a hot bath, snuggle up and read a book or enjoy a walk in nature, find something for you each day.
Watch what you eat
Your diet has a huge impact on how you feel. High-sugar foods cause your blood sugar levels to spike, and this affects your mood. Eating rice, oats, beans, nuts and seeds, with plenty of vegetables and fruit, will give you sustained energy throughout the day, helping to stabilise your mood.
We know we need to exercise for good health, but the happy hormones released in doing so will boost your mood and make you feel great. It’s important to enjoy it, so find something that suits you. You may like the sociability of a gym or a yoga class, or running or cycling in the fresh air, and there’s always a home workout if you’re short of time. Just get moving.
Stay in the present
Life can feel particularly overwhelming at the moment. If you have more time on your hands, it’s easy to dwell on the past and attempt to predict the future. This isn’t going to make you feel better.
Remember what you can control and focus on this. A mindfulness or relaxation exercise will help bring you into the present
Pre-lockdown, incredible steps forward were already being made in mental health awareness. We felt safe to talk. We were being heard. As the pandemic continues to threaten our physical health, let’s remember to protect our mental health too. Keep talking.
What does World Mental Health Day mean to you? Feel free to share your ideas on what’s helping you through these uncertain times. We’d love to hear from you.