I think everyone during this lockdown has witnessed their mental health decline. It is so hard to not let this pandemic get the better of us all. From fearful information on the news to the stay at home campaign spreading across the world, the unknown has seemed to dictate us all, and the fear of the unknown can become too much sometimes. I have created this post to express some thoughts about improving your mental health, you can refer to this post through the pandemic or even during 'normal' life, whenever that will be. Myself, like so many others have suffered from mental health issues and I have put together some of my favourite tips and tricks to help improve your mental health during lockdown.
1. Talk to someone.
We have been in a lockdown for basically over a year now, the fact many of us haven't been able to see our family is heartbreaking. It becomes harder and harder to be able to speak to people over the phone and through social media, there is nothing that can beat a face to face conversation. However; we haven't been able to do this for the past year. When you are feeling low or down it is very easy to distance yourself from people. If you are struggling, a simple phone call or facetime to a close friend or family member could make the world of difference to your mental health. If you have any worries or thoughts it is good to talk them through with someone, simply saying your worries out loud can clear them from your mind and often cause you to rationalize them. If talking to someone you know is uncomfortable there is always someone that can help, contact your GP or local NHS wellbeing and advice pages for further information, there is always someone to talk to, even if you feel alone in all of this.
2. Keep a journal, write things down.
If you think you cannot speak to someone about how you're feeling a simple journal can help you to write down all your worries and fears so that they are somewhere else rather than in your head. Set aside the time in your day to write in your journal and have that time to rant about your thoughts instead of letting it take over you. You can also keep track of how much sleep you are having, how much water you are drinking and so on so you can further improve on your mental health and reflect on the things that are bothering you. Reflection is a wonderful thing that we as humans do not do enough of, reflecting on things you have done can be a wonderful way of bettering your mental health, reflect on the good the bad and the ugly. This will enable you to look at your moods and thoughts and possibly find a way of dealing with them.
3. Don't let social media and the news take control.
It is very easy to have the TV on and be constantly listening to the news about the pandemic. This is often very disheartening and can make your brain go into overdrive. It is good to be informative about what is going on in the world but do not let it take over you. Take time during the day to put your phone down and turn off the TV, this simple control over social media intake will ease your mind and you can focus on more positive things going on in your life. You can also look at positive things going on in the world. If you are constantly on your phone and find it hard to put it down why not research into good projects and stories going on in the news, maybe you can look into ways you can involve yourself in these projects, this is a good way to put you back in good spirits whilst helping others around you.
4. Look after your physical wellbeing.
Your mental wellbeing is just as important as your physical wellbeing, they go hand in hand. Whether you like cycling, running or walking, exercise is a great way to clear your head. As much effort it takes to do, I promise you will feel better for it afterwards. Some of us here at Gifts from Handpicked have even taken up hula hooping! This is a fun activity that doesn't even feel like exercise. You can certainly find a new sport you love doing, we have all the time in the world! It is very easy to get into the habit of staying in bed and letting our thoughts and worries control us. A simple walk around your local area can clear your head and make you feel better. Make sure to drink plenty of water and eat regular meals to keep you healthy. A healthy mind and a healthy heart are a match made in heaven. In doing this you discover different walking/ running routes in your area as well as finding new and exciting meals for you to create. Baking and cooking is also a brilliant way to keep your mind busy whilst being productive throughout the day.
5. Set goals for the day.
We understand that in a lockdown, especially if you are not working, it becomes increasingly difficult to get yourself out of bed. The horrid thought of 'what's the point?' running around in your brain. But there is a point, to absolutely everything, and now more than ever we can take advantage of having all this time to be productive and motivate ourselves every step of the way. Every day set yourself a goal to complete, it could be something as simple as cleaning a room in the house, or sorting out that box of stuff you've never got round to doing. Doing this means every day you will have achieved something. Even if this means you doing something small each day, it can accomplish big things. You can also write these in your journal to reflect on what you have achieved throughout the week. In doing this you will feel as if you are working towards something each day which is a great motivational tool for your mind. See what you can achieve!
6. Get a good sleep routine.
If you aren't working or keeping a routine it is very easy to get into a bad sleep routine. Sleep is a massive attribute to your mental health and can effect it quickly. Try and get enough sleep each night and keep a routine so that you can be productive with your sleep. Try and settle down at least an hour before your normal sleep time, do whatever it is that makes you sleep better. Some people listen to music or put something on in the background. Some people need a pitch black room and a sleep mask. Try to set an alarm and wake up at a certain time each morning, even if you are not being productive, waking up and making your body get into a routine is so beneficial to your mind, as long as you make sure you are getting enough sleep each night. As Thomas Dekker once said 'sleep is the golden chain that binds health and our bodies together.'
7. Try a new hobby, do something you have always wanted to try.
For many of us we have had plenty of time to be productive, but have a hard time deciding what to do with all this time. Being creative and finding a new hobby is a wonderful way to explore things you love to do during lockdown. You can then take these wonderful activities with you through life, develop them and who knows, maybe one day you'll become a world famous artist or Michelin star chef! Research into interesting and creative things you can do with your time. Something simple as drawing or creating something could make the world of difference when it comes to your mental health. Practice origami or photography and see what you can create. You will find that you can create an abundance of things whilst improving your mental health at the same time. Taking the time to put your mind to something else other than your worries could help you improve your way of visioning your mind. Creativity is a wonderful tool that all of us should take the time to explore. Let your mind run wild with fantastic ideas and blossoming perceptions, you will be surprised at what you will discover.
8. Take time to do self care.
Self care is something that for a lot of people, especially Mum's and Dad's, goes amiss. Who has the time to lounge around pampering themselves? Well now you do! Taking care of yourself is a very essential part of looking after your mental health, if you ever feel like your mental health is depleting during lockdown, please do try some acts of self care, it sounds silly but self care truly is the best form of relaxation. Taking a long bath or shower is proven to help your mental health. Take time aside each day to perform an act of self care. Whether that be using a face mask and putting on some of your favourite music or using your favourite products to have an amazing bath, taking as long as you need and letting yourself relax. We all need some self care now and again. It is often easy to look after others and make sure that they are okay, and although this proves you are a caring person, you also need to learn to look after yourself and your mental wellbeing. Something so simple as letting yourself relax in a warm comforting bath could ease stress, I think all of us need some of that at the minute.
To conclude, your mental health is one of the most important aspects of your life, possibly more now than ever. Take the steps necessary to better your mental health, surround yourself with things you love and positive people and set time aside for your worries but do not let them overpower you. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel, even if it is very hard to see right now.