Managing your mental health in lockdown
Life can be stressful, and 2020 has thrown us several curveballs, with the global pandemic and lockdown. It’s no wonder many of us are finding anxiety take hold, damaging our mental health.
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. According to the NHS, one in four adults and one in ten children experience mental illness. And the thing is, anyone can suffer from emotional problems, no matter how things might appear on social media. But with more and more people opening up about mental health – including Prince Harry, Rio Ferdinand, Lady Gaga – the good news is you can, and will, feel better.
Exercising outside, particularly in nature, can clear the cobwebs in the head as well as in the muscles. Even when the weather is colder it’s important to wrap up warm and get outside. A study by the University of Exeter found that spending at least two hours a week in nature can boost psychological wellbeing and health*. Even just five minutes surrounded by greenery is enough to give you a motivating boost for the day, scientists found.
Find joy in the little things
When you’re feeling low, it can feel like the whole world is against you. Rather than focusing on the big picture, turn your attention to the little things that can make you happier right now – like having a conversation with a friend who makes you laugh, taking a long bath or going for a walk in the winter sun.
Paying attention to the present moment in a mindful way helps us to become more aware of our thoughts and feelings so that, instead of being overwhelmed by them, we’re better able to manage them.
Start the day well
A simple idea is to try a morning mantra. It can be something which makes you feel optimistic about the day to come or else, a few words which make you pause for a moment to reflect on how you’re feeling. For example, ‘Today I will ignore any negative moments and focus only on the positive’.
Writing a journal can also help with this – every morning, a few notes for your ‘to do’ list which are easy to achieve can make a world of difference to your day. Simply by recognising the positives in your life, you are training your brain to be naturally honed towards noticing more of the good.
Get enough sleep
Don’t underestimate the importance of sleep – it’s essential to our health and wellbeing, and a lack of it will slow down your thinking, and impair memory, concentration, decision-making and even learning. While the number of hours you sleep counts – 7-9 is ideal – the quality matters, too. Broken, restless nights mean your body isn’t getting the chance to do all the clever restorative housekeeping it needs to (like consolidating memories, clearing toxins and repairing cells), so eliminate anything that disrupts sleep. That means no screens an hour before bed, cut back on caffeine and alcohol, and make your bedroom a place of calm and tranquillity.
Remember, you are not alone
Looking at social media, it’s easy to (wrongly) assume that everyone has a better life. To avoid this negative thought pattern, unfollow any accounts that make you feel bad about yourself, and focus on the positive ones that make you feel less alone – like author Matt Haig’s (@mattzhaig) Instagram. Matt’s uplifting and inspirational posts about mental health have been a great comfort to many during lockdown, as have artist Charlie Mackesy’s (@charliemackesy) beautiful drawings celebrating the NHS, as well as from his book The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. As we said before, focusing on the positives will teach your brain to look out for more of the good in the world.
For more information, please visit Co-op Health.
For help and advice Visit NHS.UK and search Mental Health Help
** [Source: https://www.medicaldaily.com/color-green-enhances-exercise-boosting-motivation-and-energy-243535]