It is mental health awareness week and I think it is apparent that, more than ever, we need to take more time to practice self-care, slow down and look after our minds.
For many of us, feelings of anxiety and depression are at an all-time high. Ordinarily, 1 in 4 of us experience mental health difficulties, however, in the times we are living in, it seems as though everyone is experiencing a more heightened emotional state. Once the novelty of more free time to do things you have always been meaning to do wears off, the enormity of the situation and the uncertainty of the future sinks in. But this is okay. This is to be expected, and we can do things that make us feel more centered, relaxed and optimistic about what is an extremely difficult situation for many.
This will pass, things will go back to normal. But until then, be kind to yourself and continue being kind to yourself when normality inevitably resumes. Here are a few ideas to get you started and look after your mental health today.
Exercise is one of the most important things you can do for your mental and physical well-being. It benefits us in so many ways, from better quality sleep to alleviated symptoms of anxiety and low mood. Get creative and follow workouts on youtube at home or get outside for a run in your local park to benefit from the greenery around you.
Get green space
Combining exercise with green space has been proven to lift your mood and energise your body. By spending time in nature, whether that be a walk in the park or a run around your neighbourhood once a day can help you feel less isolated than being indoors.
Practice something you enjoy
Having newfound free time can be daunting. However, see it as an opportunity to do things that you usually would not have time for. Whip out that puzzle that is gathering dust in your loft, jumble through some old photos and make a scrap book, flick through recipe books and get cooking! I must stress the word practice. I am not saying complete x y and z, here. It is often the practice that gives us more joy than the final product. Being in ‘flow’ has been proven to help individuals mental health as it is the act of intensely focusing on an activity and thinking about not much else for a while. I have particularly enjoyed cooking more and trying out new recipes with a glass of wine and music blasting, the ultimate tonic.
There has never been a time when we have not been able to see our friends and loved ones if we wanted to. But with the wonders of technology we can stay connected in many ways. For those of us lucky enough to be living with our loved ones, take the time to remember those close to you who are tackling the pandemic alone and organise regular catch ups.
Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. We are all in this together and we are facing a time that no one has experienced in history apart from us. Now is not the time to put pressure on yourself to be your most productive self. It is okay to have good days and bad days, when our environment is the same every day it is easier to notice the waves of emotions that we have to ride out. Instead of fighting how you feel, let it be, be kind and relax.
I think that one of the most important things to remember during this time, is accepting that where you are is good enough. Mindfulness meditation is a useful tool to help you stay in the moment and be calm there. When it feels like the world outside your four walls is out of control, focus on the controllable. Now is a great time to get into mindfulness, as it is hard to get into the habit. Start with 5 minutes, or even two and build yourself up.
I would love to know how you are getting on and what you have been doing to look after your mental health in what is undeniably a very strange time. Stay positive, know that this will pass and brighter days are ahead.