Tips on taking care of your mental health during lockdown
As the country prepares for at least another three weeks of lockdown, there’s never been a more important time to focus on not just our general health, but our mental health and well-being, too. Being shut inside our homes and unable to spend time with our family and friends, alongside worries about the future might be starting to take their toll, so it’s key that we carry out and utilise exercises and key tools to maintain a positive state of mind during these uncertain times.
Qualified in integrative psychotherapy and cognitive behavioural psychotherapy, Holly Beeden, clinical lead at Living Well UK, has shared her top tips on how to keep your mental health and well-being on track, as the country continues to live with the on-going effects of COVID-19.
However, it can be difficult in knowing where to start to keep your mental health in-check, while continuing to adapt to a situation that no-one’s dealt with before. To help, Holly has shared her five top tips for keeping your mental health in check:
One of the major changes among the many, is the fact that a high percentage of people are having to adjust to working from home. The key to ensuring that you’re making the situation as easy to adapt to as possible is by setting a routine and creating a separate working space. Holly comments:
“Try and keep out of your bedroom for the day if you’re working from home. Your sleeping space is not your workspace, but if you’ve got no other place in your house to work, try and create a separate space within your room as it’s very easy to not get ready for the day and stay in bed, which is eventually going to lead to both a low mood and lack of motivation.
“If you have got a separate space that you can work from during the day, make sure you utilise it. When it comes to home working and having to look after children, that can also be really difficult; therefore, it’s just as important to keep a routine with them… don’t forget, this is a massive change for them, too!”
Many of us are experiencing senses of worry, anxiety and something very similar to grief due to this huge shift. However, Holly explains that there are a few simple ways to safely handle these emotions to maintain your mental health and well-being.
“If you find yourself waking up with worries in the morning, jot them down on a bit of paper and leave them until your assigned ‘worry time’…Every day, give yourself a maximum of 20 minutes to think about these worries and ask yourself what’s causing them, what are you getting from having them, and can you do anything about them? Hopefully, you won’t have to use to full 20 minutes of the allotted time, but once you’re done, do something nice and relaxing for the rest of the evening,” Holly explains.
One of the key ways to maintain a positive outlook is by exercising every day; another, is by carrying out tasks that most households would normally put on hold due to work and socialising. Holly suggests creating a to-do list, completing tasks in the house or squeezing in a workout could lead to a positive effect on your mental health.
“Take a walk, go for a run, do laps around your garden – anything you can think of to keep moving. If the weather’s bad outside there are plenty of home videos that you can do from your living room. If you can safely get outside, then that’s the best thing to do. Spend as much time as you can outside, while of course, still remaining in the guidelines that have been set by the Government,” Holly explains.
“Believe it or not, cleaning is a really good way of keeping yourself busy during this time. That’s not necessarily scrubbing the house top-to-bottom every day… there are all the little things that you might have been putting off. Whether it’s going through your wardrobe, cleaning the oven or clearing out the garage if you haven’t got around to it – all of those jobs that you’ve been putting on the back burner, now’s the time to get them done. Create and utilise a to-do list. It doesn’t have to be anything major, but when you’ve ticked something off it can give you a real sense of achievement.”
There’s never been a more important time to keep in touch with your family and friends to keep a sense of normality and reduce the sense of loss that we may be feeling, as well as taking time to look after ourselves properly. Holly explains:
“Whether it’s over the phone or video calling – whatever mode of connection that you use. We’re social beings, we’re supposed to be around other people, so even if you have social anxiety, in general, you do want to be around people.
“It’s key not to cut off from people during this time; call your friends, call your family, use video links and have a catch up over coffee like you normally would. It’s really important for your well-being to stay in touch with people that you’d usually see and speak to on a regular basis.”
And finally, Point Five
Last but not least, Holly emphasises the importance of being kind… not only to others, but also yourself.
“In the middle of all of this, look after yourself. While it might feel really difficult to do that at the moment, even if it’s just taking 10-15 minutes to do something that you enjoy, challenge any intrusive thoughts you may be having. It is a really difficult and uncertain time for everyone at the moment, but remember that this whole situation is temporary and there is an end to it. Everyone is in the same boat, so be kind to yourself and others.
“There are plenty of services available to help you, including talking services, like Living Well UK. Many services have gone remote now, so if you are feeling low at any point, make sure you get the help that you need. Talk to your GP if you need, and don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call Living Well UK and Mind Birmingham.”
Living Well UK’s dedicated numbers are now live: for the key-worker support line, call 0121 663 1217 and for general support call 0121 262 3555.