As we enter into a second national lockdown, it becomes more important than ever to keep our mental health in check. It is entirely normal to be experiencing difficult and unusual emotions, as well as feeling overwhelmed. The most important thing to do at this time is to ensure you keep yourself in a positive mindset as we navigate this second lockdown.
As we move into winter, you should keep in mind that you may have to adapt your routine to accommodate the reduction in daylight hours. For some, winter can exacerbate feelings of anxiousness and isolation associated with the pandemic, making it even more crucial that you are checking in on how you and others are feeling, moving through this uncertain time together. Remember, you are not alone!
Here are just some of the ways you can look after your mental wellbeing and health during lockdown.
In this day and age, our digital devices are saturated with different media outlets providing us with up-to-date news around the clock. Most of us receive news notifications on our smartphones, listen to the news on television or radio, and scroll on social media—with this too having become a key news outlet in recent years. Sometimes, it can feel like we can’t escape the constant barrage of information, and with the ever-changing updates regarding Covid, it has become even more overwhelming.
Take time to switch off. Put your phone in a draw or to one side and leave it alone for a couple of hours a day. This way, you can put your mind to other activities and realise there are many more interesting tasks that are still available to positively occupy your time.
Be mindful to separate fact from fiction. As mentioned, the influx of news from different media outlets means that not all information is entirely accurate and reliably factual. In particular, anyone can post near anything on social media, so you should be especially careful when consuming any information related to Covid on these platforms. Oftentimes the information is accurate and helpful, but can also be incorrect, so make sure you’re fact-checking via reputable sources such as the ones below, before sharing the information or passing it on to anyone else.
Statistics and graphs can be scary and difficult to understand, so try to limit yourself to checking the news once a day or at set times. This way, you’re staying up-to-date without allowing yourself to be inundated with too much information that could compromise your mental health.
Although this is a worry-inducing time for everyone, try to find the silver lining of having more time on your hands and focus on the things you enjoy. Now is a great time to revisit your favourite hobby or learn a brand new skill that you may not have had the time to pick up before. Although having a lot of time on your hands can seem overwhelming, it is best to try new activities. There are lots of innovative new online ways to learn and interact with others. When we’re doing things we enjoy, it gives us the opportunity to forget about any negatives or anxieties associated with the pandemic.
Acknowledge how you are feeling and don’t be afraid to open up to others, who, believe it or not, will likely be feeling or have experienced the same feeling since the pandemic started. Acknowledge that the state of the pandemic is out of your control, and try not to allow yourself to become too swamped with the evolving situation currently. Remember to take time to relax and focus on the present—there is no way to predict what the future holds so there’s no use in worrying too much about it.
If you are feeling truly overwhelmed with feelings that you see as being out of your control, there are useful resources available online to help you with your wellbeing during this time. Every Mind Matters offers great tips for looking after your mental health during lockdown and ways to keep yourself feeling positive and supported.
The number of people working from home has increased since the start of the pandemic. Although a novelty at first, the convergence of work and home life may be beginning to get on top of you. The best tools to allow yourself to not become too overwhelmed with working from home, are organisation and routine.
It can be easy to start to feel demotivated when working remotely, perhaps due to an increase in distractions, or the fact it’s very easy to simply roll out of bed and sit in your pyjamas for the day. Ensuring you have a routine in place for your workday signifies to your mind and body that it is time to get to work and concentrate, and there are a number of ways you can signify this separation between work and home life fairly easily:
Get dressed - Although a simple act that you may feel wouldn’t have much of an impact, this straightforward routine draws the line between being ready to work and getting dressed into something more comfy when your workday comes to a close. It notifies your mind and body that you’re ready to work and concentrate.
Separate your work space from your relaxing space - Recreating the physical separation between work and home spaces is the best way to allow yourself to switch on and off each day. If you’re lucky enough to have a separate office in your home, that’s great, but if you don’t, then make sure you take a corner in your house and make it as work-oriented as possible.
Set clearly defined working hours - Having a clear schedule of when you are and are not working makes it much easier to ensure your productivity remains at a good level.
Communication is key - Ensuring you are having regular communication with your team or colleagues means that expectations are set in advance and everyone is aware of what they should be working on. This will allow you to have ease of mind when it comes to what tasks you need to have completed by the end of the week.
Since entering into our second national lockdown, we’re all becoming a little more familiar with how our routines change when we’re limited in going about our usual day. It is wise to consider how your routine may need to change, especially due to the colder weather. Fortunately, lockdown number one graced us with glorious sunshine, but this time around it may not be entirely in our favour. You should factor weather conditions and shorter days into your routine to ensure you’re getting everything done that you wish to. If you’re finding it especially difficult to get used to a new routine, it might be a good idea to write a plan or to-do list at the beginning of each week, to help you keep organised and productive. A routine gives each new day purpose, allowing us to feel at the close of each day that we’ve achieved what we set out to do. It’s one of the best ways to keep our brains feeling clear and organised, and hopefully healthier in the long-run.
That being said, do not feel as though you need to be productive 100% of the time. If you do this, you may become fatigued and burnt out, which could cause you to feel unhappy. Remember that everyone is different — for some, doing a million and one different things a day can make them feel extremely positive and fulfilled, but for others, doing too much isn’t good for their mental health. Social media, especially, can portray others as achieving many things. But remember, everyone is posting their best bits, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you didn’t get that task completed that you said you would, or if you didn’t have time to finish something. Tomorrow is a new day, and it’s full of potential!
Your physical health has a massive impact on your mental wellbeing. There are many simple ways you can try to keep yourself feeling fit and well. If you are able to, going for a walk in nature is a great way to lift your spirits and clear your mind of anything that may be troubling you. Try our recommendations for the Best Autumn Walks for a bit of inspiration.
Alternatively you may want to pick up the pace. With gyms being closed during lockdown, how about trying a home workout? Many trainers have turned to online platforms to offer a variety of ways to keep fit for both those used to getting their heart rates up, and beginners. Try our recommendations for Home Workouts This Lockdown.
Spending more time at home doesn’t have to mean less physical activity. Even carrying out household tasks such as cleaning and DIY are all great forms of exercise to work into your daily routine.
Getting enough sleep is vital to a healthy state of mind. Sleep deprivation can exacerbate mood disorders such as depression and anxiety, emphasising how important it is to be especially aware of your sleeping patterns. Simple considerations such as avoiding looking at bright light from digital devices and TVs before bedtime, cutting out caffeine, and creating a restful environment are all ways in which you can encourage yourself to have a better night’s sleep. Try the below resources for getting a better night's sleep:
NHS tips for getting a good night’s sleep
Every Mind Matter sleep page
Now more than ever, it is so important to stay connected with loved ones. Whether that be digitally or within your support bubble, stay in touch via video chat, social media, texting, or calling. Many have discovered by having more time on their hands, they’ve actually been able to reconnect digitally with old friends and family who they may not have had time to before. Zoom has taken over the world, and is a great video-chat service that allows you to connect to as many people as you like. Host a pub quiz or bingo night, or have a digital fancy dress social. There are plenty of ways to stay connected!
Try to take the positives out of this negative situation — being in the twenty-first century with digital devices that allow us to stay connected even though we are apart, is certainly one of them!
As we’ve seen, there are many ways you can help keep your mental health in check throughout the pandemic. If you are beginning to feel truly overwhelmed, have you considered learning some relaxation techniques? For many, these are an effective method in combating stress, refocusing your breathing, and giving your mind permission to take back control of your emotions and feelings. One popular technique is breathing meditation, whereby you focus your attention on inhaling and exhaling. Although your mind may begin to wander at first, you will soon learn how to train your mind to return to and refocus on your breath. This technique is said to allow you to rationalise your thoughts, and can be used in situations where you may be feeling negative emotions, including feeling stressed or anxious. Try the relaxation technique resources below:
NHS breathing exercises for stress
Every Mind Matters
We hope we’ve provided you with a number of ways you can help keep your mental health in check this winter. Always remember that you are never alone in how you may be feeling about the state of the pandemic, so always try to keep connected, communicate your emotions with others, and always check in with yourself.
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