Why Now is the Most Important Time For Your Mental Health

As we’re adapting to our new realities, we’re all finding our own ways of coping with the pressures and difficulties this brings to our lives.

The rate of change has been rapid on the last 4 weeks and now the changes are beginning to level out to where we’re developing a new normality. This is one of the danger zones for our mental health. It’s at times like this that we have a space; a time where we’re not having to cope with such rapid change and it’s in this space that negative emotions can hit us hard. Being self-aware means that we can do something about this and utilising the wellbeing tips for mental health that have been spreading across social media can help massively. It’s important not to discount their effectiveness.

As we create our new normalities, we may find ourselves repeating familiar patterns, some of which will feel good and others less so. For example, we may have a work structure and routine that was similar to before or our eating patterns may have remained almost the same. This is all good, however, things aren’t as they were and we may be hit with strong emotions such feeling very sad, frustrated, irritable, angry, tired or despairing. It’s very normal to feel like this as this temporary reality is still unsettling and ultimately we may be feeling grief for the loss of our normality and anxiety in the uncertainty of the future.

At times when we feel these strong emotions, it’s important that we look after ourselves well. There has been a reported spike in anxiety and depression since the UK lockdown and below is a list of things that could help. There are also some useful article from other writers. Although I am a Counsellor and Psychotherapist, I am still just one lone person and these are my suggestions from my experience and recent research. There are other professionals and researched articles that may fit better for you as the individual that You are.

Wellbeing tips in these uncertain times: –

  • Utilising our support – Connecting with people and talking to others is a primary healthy coping mechanism for any time in our lives and now it’s essential. Whether this be taking time to plan activities and having time to talk with the lovelies that we live with or speaking to friends and family (where we may be experimenting more with facetime-like apps). Professional support is always available by telephone or online support.
  • Writing – writing can help massively as it slows our thoughts down and activates parts of the mind that are responsible for rational thought. This allows us to see with Greater clarity and feel more in control. These articles can help explain this more – How Keeping a Journal Can help You and How to Start Writing a Journal
  • Planning activities – Having a plan for the day or things you want to do. It can be helpful to brainstorm and then create a list of things you might like to do. Having a list helps greatly as it will provide suggestions when you’re feeling in need. A google search of ‘things to do during lockdown’ will bring up a host of ideas to start your mind thinking.
  • Managing your new work-life balance – Working from home can mean that work is all around us and we may not leave work properly. These articles – 9 tips to improve your work-life balance when working from home or 7 Ways to Improve Work-Life Balance When You Work at Home may be of interest
  • Structuring or not structuring our day – Choosing whether to have a structure or not, links to feeling in control and having a sense of purpose. A structure can help as it gives us a routine rather than every day feeling like it’s the same meaningless meander along life’s path. We feel a sense of achievement in completing our planned tasks or a sense of control in that there’s a plan, no matter how rigid or loose. Paradoxically, actively not having a structure means that we can mindfully enjoy doing nothing or allowing time to pass.
  • Self-assurance – Re-assuring ourselves can be very helpful and can ease worries. For example, remember to remind yourself that this is temporary and we will get through this, notice how well you’re coping and notice the good things that are happening at the moment. Taking a step back to breathe as we do this helps further.
  • Self-care rather than self-soothing – We can all easily practise unhelpful behaviours that are self-soothing rather than self-caring such as using alcohol and other substances or online gambling, overthinking about the future or being damaged by the media. Self-care is essential.
  • Protecting ourselves from unhelpful media – There’s a vast array of information sources at our finger-tips and this can damage us. As we read or see different perspective and different people’s opinions, it encourages unhelpful and distorted thinking patterns. It’s advised to choose 1 or 2 reliable sources and limit opinion-based media such as social media and the tabloids.
  • Embracing and enjoying this unusual time (if we can). We’re all having our own experience and as difficult as it is, there are some brilliant elements that we can be appreciative of.
  • Maintaining amicable relationships – At this time, our relationships are being tested to the absolute max. Taking responsibility for ourselves in relationships, giving to our relationships, having our own space and minimising conflict will help. Self-care is central as is self-awareness. When we’re not feeling good we often throw some (or all) of our emotions onto those closest to us.
  • Considering what strengths and positives you can take from this experience – This horrible virus has made us all stop and hopefully made us more appreciative of the fundamentals of society. We maybe valuing our health more and many of the things that we may have taken for granted. Take some time to consider or discuss what good things have come from this and what great things may materialise as time continues.

Some of these suggestions may be helpful but our well-being and our mental health is unique to us as the individuals that we are. Finding our own way is often more effective so doing our own research and speaking to our own support network about what’s helping them can be a more personalised approached to your self-care.

The internet is teaming with articles providing suggestions of how to cope at this time. There are some links below that came from searching terms like ‘wellbeing for coronavirus’, ‘ideas for lockdown’ ‘self-care in lockdown’.

For many this is a very unsettling time as anything that affects our personal security has a deep impact. Disruption to our normal routines, having worries for our health or health of a loved ones and threats to our income top the list of things that can affect us the most. Whoever you are and whatever your personal circumstances are, this situation calls you to be looking after You as best you possibly can. Whether we like it or not, we’re part of this historical event and hopefully we can begin to make the best of things as they are and to take great strength from it as we come through this.

As always, please question and comment – I will reply to each one. If you like this article, please share it.

Regards

Duncan

 

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