As many of you know, my mental health isn’t great at the best of times. I work really hard to keep myself balanced and on an even keel, but on occasion it still only takes one little nudge to push me over the edge.
I would describe the Coronavirus lockdown as more of a forceful shove off a cliff.
Last week was rough to say the least, but I’m feeling much more settled and productive this week. A friend messaged and said she had been struggling too, and asked if I had any tips for feeling her way out of the funk. Flattered to say the least that someone trusted me enough to ask, I realised I knew plenty of ways. I’d just been enjoying the wallowing too much to use the tricks and tools I knew to help myself
Remember We're all in this Together
We’re seeing it all over Social Media and the television and news outlets, but it took a message from a friend to realise that it’s true. We are all collectively feeling a bit shit right now.
And that’s OK.
Human Being as a species need certainty in our lives to keep us happy. Uncertainty switches on our fight or flight mode in an attempt to keep us alive. Admittedly, this was probably more useful when uncertainty looked like walking around a corner not knowing if you’d come face to face with a lion, but I digress.
There’s a lot of uncertainty going on right now around Coronavirus. Our cortisol (stress hormones) levels are constantly up, which actually leaves us feeling sluggish and drained.
Establish A Routine
Even if you’re not someone who usually lives life with a strict routine, now is probably a great time to establish one. A routine takes away some of the uncertainty from your day. Knowing what you’re going to be doing and when you’re going to be doing it helps to ease some of the anxiety being stirred up these days.
Even if you don’t want to establish a complete all day, every day routine, I’d still recommend establishing a morning and evening routine. An established, healthy morning routine can help you get into a positive mindset for the day, and a chilled out, relaxing evening routine helps tell your body and mind it’s time for bed and to sleep – something that’s really helpful given that I know a lot of us aren’t sleeping well right now.
Give Yourself A Daily Goal
You know me, I love a good to-do list. The satisfaction of writing out all of the things I need to get done and then ticking them off when they’re complete? Perfection.
I’ve come to realise, however, that my productivity levels, like many others, are down. Instead of getting annoyed with myself and making myself feel down I’ve leant into the advice to rest and relax. Instead of my usual five or six things on my to-do lists, I’ve taken to limiting myself to three. Three simple things I would like to get done in a day.
I’ve also taken to setting myself a mini goal on my daily walks, be that a step count, finding a new path or way home, or taking a picture of something I see that interests me.
The temptation during a stressful time like this is to turn to comfort foods and fill ourselves with stodgy food that feels good in the moment, but tends to leave us feeling sluggish and a bit shit.
Not to say there’s anything wrong with that – I love me a good Two for Tuesdays – but we just simply cannot survive on foods like this. Well, we can, but you feel even more like crap than you would.
Many people say that the reason they don’t cook for themselves is because they don’t have time. Why not use all this “free” time we’ve been given to learn how to cook yourself a few quick and really nutritious meals to fuel your body properly? My new go to has become stir fry garlic and chili broccoli. It takes ten minutes in the wok and tastes amazing.
It has been scientifically proven that a daily gratitude practice can actually rewire your brain to be more positive and, if you ask me, a little bit of positivity is something we can all use right now.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee, a U.K. Doctor working to improve the health of the nation, recommends a daily practice of gratitude for the 3 P’s – a person, a pleasure and a promise. For example, the people who smile back when I smile at them on my daily walks, my secret stash of Mrs. Tilly’s Tablet, and the first sprouts of growth on my rose bush in the garden.
Thinking about these things before bed every night cheers me up and leaves me with a golden glow of inner joy as I drift off to sleep every night.
Take your allotted daily walk. Run up and down the stairs. Follow a YouTube Yoga or Pilates video. Maybe have a dining room disco.
There are so many ways to move your body, boost your endorphins and tire out your body. There are so many benefits to exercise and moving your body, none more so than improving your mental health. If you can’t keep up your usual routine of hitting the gym or attending classes then get creative! You never know, you might find yourself a new activity you love and can add to normal life when it resumes.
These are my tips and tricks for remaining positive during the Coronavirus lockdown. I’ve been using every single one of them myself to keep my mood up and help me get through this, and I strongly encourage you to do the same.
I’m also struggling at the impact Coronavirus is having on my social life – I’m struggling to decide where I’m going for my first glass of wine once we’ve escaped – so my DM’s are always open for people to come and have a chat. Come hit me up with a joke or pictures of your cute fluffs or hilarious things family members have done during the lockdown. One friend sent me a SnapChat of her rescuing her mother from being locked in the garage and it absolutely made my day!
Stay safe. Stay Positive.