When the going gets tough…
The world is in full on meltdown mode at the moment. With so many of us isolated inside due to this pandemic, taking care of our mental health has never been more important. It might seem trivial given the crisis situation happening outside our doors, but I promise you it’s not. Since this whole crisis started, my mental health has been up and down. I’m sure yours has too, so I’m sharing a few things that are helping me. We are in this together, and whatever you’re feeling, you’re not alone.
Find Time to Disconnect
With social media being what it is, sometimes the cold hard truth about what’s happening in the world is right in the palms of our hands. It can be so overwhelming sometimes, and feels like an assault of negativity. I’ve been making a point of putting my phone down for extended periods of time. If that’s not possible while you’re working, try to leave it in another room even just for an hour when work is done. It’s kind of freeing, and allows you to just have a breather.
Embrace Your Hobbies
You know that thing you always wanted to learn, but just never had the time? Well, now might be the time to start! Give yourself a challenge and get out of your headspace for a bit. Even if it’s just one night a week where you focus on this hobby, it will still do wonders for your mental health. I watched an online class about decorating cookies, and I’ve even ordered cookie cutters and food coloring! It’s bringing me a lot of joy during this crisis, and my mental health has been pretty great when I’m focusing on baking!
Find Joy In The Little Moments
I know this sounds corny, but while we’re all stuck inside, try to find joy in the little moments. When you first wake up, take a moment to admire the sunshine streaming through the window. Take a big sniff of the coffee you just made and let it wash over you. Watch a funny video and laugh at it when you need a break. I saw some ducklings going for a wander on my run the other day and I stood watching them with a smile on my face for a good 10 minutes. Things are so crazy right now, that the little moments of joy mean that much more.
Limit TV Time
Given how much time we’re all spending indoors, I do find that being a bit more intentional with when and how I’m watching TV has a big impact on my mental health. Since we don’t know how long this crisis will last, it’s good to kind of… ration things? Is that the right word? What I mean is, try to be more intentional when you’re watching TV, and use it to disconnect from the world. Had a stressful day working? Once your workday is over, put your phone down and watch a movie you love. Watch a movie that makes you cry. Watch a few episodes of a TV Show that make you cry. Allow yourself that time. This isn’t to say that having a binge day isn’t allowed. By all means, if that’s the way your day goes, no worries! It’s when that becomes the everyday that I suspect our mental health will start to backslide.
As a very wise woman once said, ‘exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy!’ Yes, going outside isn’t ideal. I’ve been going for runs early in the morning when I’m less likely to come across anyone. If you’ve got a garden or something, use that! Can’t go outside? Turn on music that makes you want to dance and have a boogie for 20 minutes. Do some household chores that involve a bit of movement(does hoovering make anyone else break out in a sweat or is that just me?). Lots of people are doing online classes, or have videos on YouTube. I’m not saying that you have to suddenly become the worlds greatest body builder, but moving your body in some way might help. One of the reasons I work out so much is because of how it improves my mental health, and even in the midst of this crisis, I’m trying to find ways to carry on!
Make a List
This is something I’ve kept in my back pocket from when I did CBT a few years ago. When I’m feeling low, even simple things felt like such a struggle. I’m a lover of lists so I started writing things out. On days when I was struggling, I’d write a list of three things. One essential, one important and one joyful. For example, a list would look like:
- Brush my teeth
- Do the dishes
- Watch a Disney movie
Simple things, but I’d usually end up ticking everything off. That little bit of accomplishment really helped me shift my mood. Then, the next day, if needed, I’d do it again. I wasn’t putting pressure on myself to do every single thing, and I was also still allowing myself to do something that made me happy. That is just as important!
Embrace the Wobbles
Look, the next few weeks and months are not going to be smooth sailing for anyone. It’s stressful, scary and really overwhelming. If, despite your best efforts, everything gets to you and you find yourself struggling, that’s okay. Just know you’re not alone. When you are feeling overwhelmed, call a friend. Have a cry. Take a few deep breaths and allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling. Tomorrow is a new day and there are no rules about what the ‘appropriate’ response is in this situation. I had a wobble the other day and honestly, spent my day watching Bake Off. Then I had a chat with my husband about how I was feeling. Knowing he felt the same actually really helped me feel better. A problem shared is a problem halved, as they say.
There are lots of little things we can do to help us get through this tricky time. I’ve found that building a routine has really helped my state of mind. Honestly, though, I’m just taking things one or two days at a time. This situation is so unprecedented, that the rules are out the window…
Still though, these are the things that are helping me cope. Taking care of our mental health is always important, but especially now, with a crisis happening on our doorsteps. So take a deep breath. You’re not alone and your feelings are valid. Hopefully these things help, and if they’re just too hard, that’s okay too. Tomorrow is a new day!