With World Mental Health Day having just passed (10th October), we’re taking a look at how we can raise mental health awareness during the pandemic. Now, more than ever, it’s vital that we look to take care of ourselves; since it can be hard to see the ‘bigger picture’ when self-isolation and social distancing rules are our current reality.
Adapt Your Daily Routine
Since we’re now having to get used to a new way of life, it makes sense to shift up our daily routines accordingly. Many of us now have less opportunities to spend time with others, and we are spending more time at home than ever before. Any significant lifestyle change can take its toll on our mental health and wellbeing; but how it’s how we deal with the changes that matters.
The first port of call when experiencing change is to take some time to assess how it’s making you feel, and how it’s having an impact on your life. For some, the onset of the pandemic has triggered feelings of stress and anxiety – whilst others have been experiencing increased feelings of loneliness.
The difficulty of dealing with the unknown is that we’re all essentially in a state of limbo; nobody really knows what’s going to happen next, or how it’s going to end – and as a result, it can be hard to look towards the ‘bigger picture’.
So, one of the best things we can do to improve our own mental health awareness is to create a new, structured daily routine. Most importantly, we need to identify what makes us happy – no matter how small – and make sure to fit as many of these as we can into each day that passes. Including time for exercise and social interaction is equally as vital, too, since access to gym facilities and social gatherings are restricted.
However you decide to spend each day, simply living by a structure helps to retain a sense of purpose and gratitude.
Connect With Others as Much as You Can
Many of us would never have imagined that opportunities to interact with others would be restricted – at least, in person. But with social distancing measures implemented, we are missing out on social gatherings, events and even, in some high risk areas, the ability to mix households.
Luckily, we live in an age where technology allows us endless possibilities – and as such, we are able to interact with others over telephone, Zoom/Skype (video call), and text message. When socialising restrictions are in place, make sure to dedicate some time each day to speak with a loved one; it really can make the world of difference.
Take Up a New Hobby/Passion
Although the pandemic has restricted us in many areas of our lives, there has never been a better time to pick up a new hobby, or learn something new. And doing so is not only a great way to pass the time; you’ll have also achieved something great by the end of it. Whether you decide to improve your fine motor skills by picking up an artistic/craft hobby, such as painting or crochet, or you opt to learn a new language, you’ll instil a sense of accomplishment that will bring about that feeling of purpose that some people find themselves searching for.
Incorporate Physical Exercise Wherever You Can
Spending large amounts of the day indoors, especially during the winter, can make it difficult to muster up the motivation to get moving. However, it’s important to remember that the mind and body are closely connected – and so, when we exercise, the release of endorphins stimulates an instant mood boost. You don’t necessarily need to go outside to get moving; if you have ample space and access to online resources, you can easily exercise at home with free workouts.
Embrace Kindness and Gratitude
If there’s ever a time to show kindness to others, it’s now. So many of us are going through challenging experiences – and when we are at the receiving end of an act of kindness, it can really put a positive spin on the day.
Try having a think about how you can help those around you; whether that’s organising a weekly Zoom chat with your friends and family to help combat loneliness, or taking up a volunteering role where restrictions allow.
Similarly, practising gratitude can help us perceive the world differently. It can help us to focus on the positives, and be thankful for what we do have – rather than thinking about what we’re missing out on. Each night before bed (or morning!), open up your journal and try noting down three to five things that you’re grateful for. It can be anything as small as that favourite herbal tea of yours, or being grateful for having somewhere warm to rest your head.
Getting used to this new way of life is challenging for everybody – and it certainly comes with its ups and downs. Have a go at incorporating these tips into your daily routine to ensure that you’re giving your mental health the attention it needs.
For more tips on how you can indulge in self care, take a look at our previous post, which focuses on nurturing your spiritual health.