Keeping mentally healthy can be challenging, even during the best of times. During a global pandemic, the task may seem near impossible. Since the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak and subsequent lockdown of the country, millions of us have had our routines pulled from underneath us, and with that our freedom to visit our support systems of friends and family. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with everything that is going on at the minute, feel like you have no control and get a little stir crazy. If you feel like you’ve lost your mojo over the past few weeks or are struggling to establish a positive routine, here are a few tips to help you get you out of that rut and back to feeling a bit more like yourself.
Keep a consistent sleep routine
Days and times don’t exist at the minute, right? It’s easy to let hours blur into each other, play that next episode, get sucked into an internet rabbit hole aaaaaaand before you know it it’s 3am. Most of us don’t have work to get up for right now so it can be incredibly tempting to just go to bed and wake up whenever. Whilst you don’t have to keep to you be up at 6am every morning, having a consistent sleep schedule has been shown to decrease the risk of developing mood related disorders such as depression and bipolar. Make sure you get 7-9 hours of good quality sleep at a similar time each night to give yourself a natural mood boost.
Get outside early
Whilst the weather in the UK is sunny and gorgeous, make the most of it. Studies have foundthat being active when it is light and inactive when it is dark helps regulate our circadian rhythm, helping us sleep better at night and keep our mood up. There are also lots of benefits of getting some sunlight on your skin, such as lower blood pressure and stronger bones from increased vitamin D absorption. Getting out of the house, even just for 15 minutes first thing in the morning is a great way to clear your head, wake up your body and put you in a more positive state of mind for the rest of the day.
Get some movement in
The mental health benefits of exercise have been well documented. We all know and love that post workout feeling, but it can be hard to find the motivation to put yourself through a really strenuous workout if you’re not feeling your best. Your workouts don’t have to be intense or long for you to get the benefits of all those endorphins – you can try a 10 minute walk or run, a bit of yoga in your living room or a quick weights session. Try and get your workout in early to give you the best possible start to your day.
Reach out to friends
The wonders of technology have made this whole pandemic a little more bearable for all of us. Thanks to video calling services and social media it is so easy to stay in touch with friends and relatives all over the world. Make sure you schedule calls with your nearest and dearest as a bit of a mood booster. You could set up a quiz night, do a workout together, cook together or even just open a bottle of wine and chat all evening. Especially if you are self-isolating on your own, these feelings of companionship and normality can be a massive help.
Watch the news as little as possible
Something that has helped me personally during this pandemic is to switch off from the news as much as I can. In the first few days of lockdown I was incredibly anxious as my work had just been closed down, my rental property was now vacant and costing me money and I’d seen all my income dry up with no confirmation of what I might get over the next few months. A stressful time to say the least and I live on my own so it's very easy to let your thoughts take over. I thought being informed by watching the news was a good idea so always had the BBC News channel on in the background at home. Wrong. All I was able to think about was the pandemic, which in turn made me feel worse. I started limiting myself to only watching the Downing Street press conference each night to find out whether there was any new advice I needed to follow and to see the UK infection rate and death toll. It’s extremely easy to find negativity in the world at the minute, so actively seeking it out through news is not going to help keep your mind healthy. Limit news consumption to a “need to know” basis and instead use the time to watch shows or listen to music that fills you with joy.
Seek help if you’re struggling
If what you are feeling right now is a little more than quarantine blues then please reach out to a qualified professional to talk it through. There are several online counselling services you could look into, such as Better Help and services from the NHS and MIND, the mental health charity. There’s no shame in struggling right now and know that you are not alone with what you are feeling.
We aren’t expected to all feel at our best during a global crisis but implementing some positivity and routine into your days can make the whole thing seem a bit more bearable. Be kind to yourself and don’t feel you have to achieve anything too drastic with this downtime. This too shall pass.