5 Mental Health tips for lockdown
Lockdown is difficult for everybody. Here are some simple but effective ways you can keep yourself well during this difficult time; an adapted version of the 5 ways to wellbeing as supported by the NHS and Mind (mental health charity.
There are some obvious barriers to this at the moment but it's vital we don't become too isolated or lonely. Human beings are neurobiologically wired for connection - it's simply what we are built to do - so it's no wonder being cut off from others, especially our loved ones, is such a threat to our wellbeing.
Here are some ways we can stay connected during the pandemic:
Text/whatsapp family and friends just to check in, share jokes, say how you feel or have a catch up.
Arrange regular video calls - no it isn't the same as in person but it's much better than being isolated.
Do an activity with friends over zoom - a cook-a-long, a quiz, a game, something crafty.
Go on a walk with someone - we're allowed to be outside with 1 other person outside (2m rule).
Connect to nature; tend to a houseplant, notice nature when you're walking in the park, listen to the birds or feed the ducks.
Ask for help: book a therapy session, call a helpline or speak to your doctor.
2. Be Active
This doesn't have to mean intense exercise, just move your body. Regularly. This improves mood, balances your nervous system and released emotions that are stored in the body. It's hard to be positive and motivated when slumped on the sofa for hours watching the news! Start with something small - simply getting up and walking around your home, maybe tidying a few bits as you do, and go from there.
Here are some of my favourite ways to move my body during a winter lockdown:
Kitchen disco (no-one else is there to judge your tunes or moves!!)
Workout video (quite partial to a bit of Davina 'fit in 15')
Do 10 sit ups
You might be able to combine some of these things with the 'connect' tip - maybe walk with a friend, take part in a Yoga with Adriene's 30 day yoga journey with thousands of others or do a zoom exercise class.
I wanted to say a bit more about walking as I'm such a huge fan and connecting to nature is a big part of my life and work as you may already be aware. Back in the first lockdown I started taking my cup of coffee for a walk to my local park or just round my neighbourhood, as a self care practice. Long story short: Brew Walks is now a Community Interest Company that I co-run with Emily Brinnand, a life coach, and my husband Steve. We provide weekly group walks (virtual during lockdown), resources (such as guided walking meditations) and community connection via our social media. Do come say hi on Instagram or Facebook.
Learning new things is great for our self-esteem. Setting a goal to learn a new skill or improve your knowledge on a topic can give you a sense of purpose and achievement. It doesn't have to be a huge time commitment or anything difficult, though some element of challenge can make it more rewarding, especially if you can see yourself progress. Most importantly learning should be enjoyable; something you are encouraging yourself to do but not forcing.
Here are some easy ways to learn something that you can do or start today:
Watch a TED talk
Listen to a podcast
Read a non-fiction book - some suggestions here
Sign up to an online course or webinar (try coursera for example)
Try a new recipe
Learn/practice a musical instrument
Watch a documentary
A bonus to your learning experience is that it gives you something positive to talk about and is another opportunity for social connection - many of these things can be done with friends or you might meet new people through them, e.g. if you join a bookclub or course.
Being mindful is about noticing what is happening in the present moment. This is very important to stop us getting lost in all the uncertainty. We don't know what the future holds but we can know this moment.
Regular mindfulness practice is proven to enhance our wellbeing. There are 2 main ways to practice; mindful meditation and mindful living.
Try this mindful grounding practice:
You can also try Mindful Walking (see Brew Walks as mentioned earlier), use a meditation app or join my monthly Mindfulness for Modern Life practice group.
5. Be Kind
Giving our time, attention and compassion to others is a win-win situation. The recipient of our kindness feels good and so do we. Being kind to others improves our self worth, gives us a sense of purpose and helps us feel more hopeful. It also makes us and others feel less alone, which is incredibly important right now.
Opportunities for kindness:
Reaching out to someone you know who might be struggling - just a few kind words could really brighten their day.
Do a task or chore for someone in your household/support bubble, or a neighbour you can help safely.
Really listen when someone is talking to you, instead of thinking about what you want to say next, give them your full attention.
Donate to a cause that is meaningful to you and encourage others to do the same. If this isn't possible raise awareness about it instead.
Send someone a heartfelt thank you message or give them a genuine compliment.
If you have free time, look into volunteering options in your local area.
You don't have to do all these things every day. Aim for what is realistic for you, and notice what you are already doing that's helping.
Now you've read this blog, take a moment to think about how you will actually incorporate these ideas into your daily life. Sorry to sound bossy but it's no good just reading about them - you actually have to put them into practice to get the benefits! Think about how you want to feel and go from there.
Take excellent care of yourselves.