Looking After Your Mental Health While on Lockdown (and Supporting Others)
It's April 2020, how’s your lockdown going? Loving it? Hate it?! It’s certainly a new way of living for many of us. With our only outlet on the outside world being the news or social media, keeping ourselves safe can instead turn into a 24-hour torrent of stress and anxiety.
Promoting positive mental health is a big issue here at CubeSquared. During the coronavirus pandemic, looking after our mental health is as important as our physical health, but how do you looking after yourself and others in these difficult times?
To answer that question, we’ve put together another of our famous (aka. not famous at all) Top 5 lists to help you manage your feelings and those of your friends and family.
1. KEEP CONNECTED
Staying at home, especially if you’re on your own, can be tough. Sure it might be a nice change at the beginning, but sooner or later those four walls will start to feel like they’re closing in. A great way to alleviate this is to make sure you stay connected with friends and family you can’t be with.
If you’re used to meeting for a coffee at lunchtime or a pint on a Friday night, these difficult times don’t have to mean an end to it. Whilst you might not be able to get together physically, but you can use video conferencing or FaceTime to keep those routines going virtually. It’s a good idea to put them in your diary as normal just so they don’t get moved by other commitments.
If video or technology isn’t your thing, you can still go old-school in your attempts to keep in touch. Write a letter, you know, like actually write a physical letter to someone. You can always fall back on social media to check-in with people you care about via Twitter or Facebook. A simple ‘how are you doing’ message might mean the world to someone.
2. MAKES PLANS FOR YOUR DAY
Under normal circumstances, if you were offered the chance to spend weeks on end in just your PJs, you’d probably jump at the chance, but when it’s enforced, it’s not as much fun as you think.
Whilst it might be fun to slob about at home, over a longer period, it can begin to impact on your sense of identity, your sense of self and even your self-confidence. Those three things are all red-flags to negatively impact on your mental health.
Where possible, plan your day around simple routines. If you can mirror what your normal day would be, do that. Get up at the same time, go to bed at the same time, work if possible at the same times, and if you would normally catch up with family or friends, take another look at Step 1 to ensure it continues as per!
3. TRY & RELAX
We know it’s tough given the crisis the world is currently going through, but trying to switch off from all the craziness is going to help you. With the news running a 24-hour stream of death and stress, it can be hard to relax, but it’s really, like REALLY, going to help you.
It’s a good idea to limit your access to the news, maybe just check-in once or twice a day, but the constant reiteration of the world is only going to damage your mental health. To counteract this, take some time out to relax your body and mind.
What works for you is going to be different for different people, so it’s important to try things. If one doesn’t work for you, don’t give up, just try something else. Sooner or later you’ll find something that clicks with you.
Mindfulness techniques are great for centring you and there are plenty of apps that will help, especially if it’s new to you. Try apps like Headspace or Buddify (there are plenty of others) to guide you through.
When you live in a world of constant stress and anxiety, like now, it’s easy to forget what being relaxed feels like. Prioritising some ways to relax can be an enormous help. Going for a walk in the fresh air will help, eating well is great and doing those things that you enjoy all contribute to a calmer state of mind.
4. YOU ARE IMPORTANT TOO!
As much as we need to look after family and friends, it’s equally important (if not more so) to look after ourselves too. There’s a saying that “you can’t pour from an empty cup,”. and it’s true. If you don’t look after yourself, you can’t look after anyone else.
We know how difficult this time is for everyone, so it’s crucial we take a little time out of the day for a little self-care. A few minutes to practice a little self-compassion and to reflect that, despite all the chaos going on outside, you are doing your best to keep everyone you care you, including you, safe and secure. It might be a good idea to start a journal or a diary so you can document this whole drama. Talk about how you’re feeling, what’s good, what you’re doing well and what you’re grateful for. Think about how your outlook has changed; have you realised what’s important in life? have you a newfound appreciation for things in your life? Focus on the positive rather than the negative and you’ll soon begin to see just how well you are doing.
5. START NEW HABITS
You’ll probably have more time at the moment to spend on things than you have had for many months. Rather than wasting it, why not use this time to either get stuck into all those things you don’t normally have time for, or start a new hobby to keep yourself busy.
Things you can do include learning to play an instrument, read more books, discover new music, start painting, learn yoga, the list is endless. Not only will you learn new skills, but you can also include the kids or partners to keep them busy too.
It can also be a good time to do everyday things better, like eating, sleeping or exercising.
We’re not suggesting any of these things will fix what’s going on outside, but it might be a crucial part of helping what you’re feeling on the in. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, so needs to be managed in the same way.
If your circumstances, or those of your loved ones, is more serious, then don’t hesitate to contact someone who can help.
The Samaritans have a free helpline that’s open 24/7. The number is 116 123. You DON’T have to be suicidal to use it, so keep the number handy.
If you’re a guy, then CALM also run a free helpline that operates from 17:00 GMT to midnight. You can also utilise their web-chat feature if you prefer that.
If you’ve got any ideas on how to promote good mental and physical health, then please leave a comment below. We WILL get through this, one way or another so stay strong, stay safe and look after yourself.