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6 Things You Can Do For Your Mental Health

Jacqueline Coombe is a freelance writer specialising in business development, marketing, and career development content.

The global coronavirus pandemic has really taken a toll on society. From the initial fear and apprehension when the outbreak began, to the cumulative lockdowns and being told to isolate, stay home and social distance.

This pandemic has brought with it a lot of changes and uncertainty. The effects of which have greatly impacted our mental health in different ways.

It’s important now more than ever to take care of yourself.

Below are some simple things you can do to maintain your mental health during this time.

1. Maintain a routine

Even though most of us are now stuck at home, it’s still important to establish and maintain a daily routine. Routines give our lives structure, and, while we can’t control what’s happening ‘out there’ we can control how we choose to spend our day.

This means, waking up and eating meals at regular times, exercising and working/studying during certain times, engaging in hobbies and socialising (over the phone, video or social media) at a certain time and going to sleep by a certain time.

It’s those moments when you aren’t busy that can really start affecting your mental health. Once feelings of boredom, loneliness, and stagnation sets in, your mind can easily spiral into dark and negative thought cycles that are hard to come back out of.

2. Have something to look forward to

While it may seem like there’s nothing to look forward to, the truth is you can always find something worthwhile in your day! It can be something long-term such as planning an itinerary for a holiday once borders reopen, or something as simple as planning a movie night and putting work/study aside to just get comfy and relax.

Think of something you can do for yourself tomorrow that will give you something to look forward to. Some ideas include:

  • Calling a friend or relative that you haven’t spoken to in forever
  • Making your favourite meal or your favourite treat
  • Making a delicious breakfast in the morning
  • Going for a walk in the local park
  • Re-watching an entire season of your favourite show or starting a new series
  • Starting a new craft/paint/design/photo/writing project
  • Planning an at-home ‘spa’ day
  • Getting dressed up for an at-home candlelight dinner with your spouse
  • Planning an evening of fun board games with the family
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3. Move your body

Exercise is the best medicine both for the body and mind. Whether it’s 6,000 steps a day, a virtual workout class, gentle yoga, or dancing to your favorite music, engaging in a physical activity that you enjoy has profound positive effects on your mental health.

Just 30 minutes a day of exercise helps to release feel-good hormones, making you feel happier, more energetic, and motivated. Exercise also reduces stress, improves memory, and helps you to sleep better.

Getting started is the hardest part - especially when you’re feeling low, overwhelmed, tired or helpless. Begin by doing some gentle stretches and work your way up. Or, find some motivating workout videos on YouTube that you can follow along to.

4. Be of service

Providing small acts of kindness and giving to others can do wonders for your mental health.

Even from a distance, you can give back to your local community in several ways. Some ideas include:

  • Buying and supporting local products/shops
  • Making care packages for those in need
  • Fundraising for local businesses/organizations/charities
  • Checking on your neighbors
  • Paying for someone’s grocery bill
  • Spreading good news or kindness on social media

5. Try mindfulness

Being mindful means being aware of the present moment. Meditation is a great tool for this, and there are some wonderful free meditation videos/audios online that you can follow. The ultimate aim is to relax the mind and give it a break from repetitive thought cycles and negative thinking patterns.

Simply take a moment to notice the muscles in your body. Are you holding tension anywhere? Slowly relax those areas of tension by envisioning those muscles softening or melting away. Take slow, deep breaths and try to remain focused on your breathing the entire time. Diaphragmatic breathing helps to regulate your body’s central nervous system, taking you out of that ‘fight or flight’ mode and bringing your mind back to a calm, relaxed and more in control state.

6. Seek support

By far, social isolation has to be the hardest aspect of this pandemic. Sadly, at least 6 in 10 seniors currently have less contact with other people due to social isolation.

Feelings of isolation and loneliness can have a traumatic impact on our mental health. If you are struggling, try to maintain regular connection with loved ones over the phone or internet wherever possible.

Maintaining social connection is difficult at the present time, but there are still ways to connect with others from a distance. If you haven’t got an established social support network, you can try joining an online hobbyist group or forum, checking your local community pages for any upcoming meetings or discussions, signing up to an online course or fitness class, or chatting to a professional mental health expert if you require additional support services.

Remember, there isn’t any rule as to how you should live out this lockdown. The most important tip is to simply take care of yourself. Being aware of how you’re feeling and taking little, achievable steps to maintain some normalcy throughout the day can help you to better navigate the challenges faced. Things are likely to remain a bit chaotic for the time being, so try to let yourself off the hook. If that means staying in your PJ’s all day and doing nothing then that’s okay! It’s far more important to respect yourself and your needs than to push yourself over the limit during this time.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2021 jacquicoombe

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