Things can feel a bit topsy-turvy as we navigate our way around this new normal. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, be reassured that’s normal! It’s important to go easy on yourself and do what you can to take back a sense of control during these uncertain times. We’ve put together a list of 5 ways to keep your mental health in tip top shape.
1. Find a healthy media balance
While it’s important to stay informed, being exposed to negative information can heighten feelings of anxiety. Between the news updates and our Facebook feeds, we can be overwhelmed with information. Try to limit your media intake to a couple of times a day and pick one source you trust. Take notice of how checking the news makes you feel and step away if you start to feel anxious. Breathing exercises like box breathing can help you refocus your mind. Give it a try - breathe in for four counts, hold for four, breathe out for four and hold for four, then repeat.
2. Maintain connections with the outside world
Even when an in-person meet-up isn’t an option, there’s lots to ways to keep connected. Start a group chat with friends over Messenger, FaceTime or jump on an online forum and talk with like-minded people. Maybe your workplace has started a virtual coffee group (or the more popular Friday night drinks!). Even the good old-fashioned phone call is back in style. Connecting with others is so important for our wellbeing and helps to make us feel safer, less stressed and less anxious.
3. Stick to a routine
Routines might sound a bit dull, but they’re great for your mental health. Create clear distinctions between work and leisure time. In the words of Marie Kondo, find something to do that that brings you joy. Set defined break times throughout the day and let your colleagues know to ‘do not disturb’ so you can take time out for yourself. Having a lunch break even when working from home is an important step in keeping your routine. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time, eat at your usual times, swap the PJ’s for clothes and do the household chores. This will help you to manage your days and easily adjust when things return to normal.
4. Find different ways to relax
We all need to find things that help us switch off, but it might take a bit of trial and error to find what works for you. You’ve seen the viral videos of people singing while quarantined and turns out they were onto something! Singing has been shown to improve mental health. If singing isn’t your vibe, how about switching off with a good book, getting creative with paint or colouring books or letting your mind wander somewhere else with a good movie.
5. Keep active
With changing the way we live, it’s important to be aware of how this impacts your activity levels. Whenever you feel your mood getting low, get up and do some physical activity. The end goal doesn’t have to be becoming an Olympic athlete, but to build up your energy levels to get your head in a better space. Simple ways to keep active can be doing yoga, playing backyard cricket, going for a run or walk around the block or even the household chores can work up a sweat.
We all have different ways of coping, but one important aspect of how we cope is to remember that we are not alone in how we feel. This is a time to support each other and sharing your experience with others can help your mental health.