I believe it is safe to say that the last year has been a challenging one for quite a number of people throughout Ireland and the rest of the world, and rightly so. Most of us have never lived through a global pandemic nor been so restricted in our movements. Many of us have never been without work, academics or social outings and all these key components of life contribute to keeping structure and balance which ultimately can contribute to good mental health.
At this point, I think it is inevitable that each time we hear an announcement on the news about restrictions being kept in place for longer periods of time, it can be easy to slip into the belief that things aren’t going to get better without actually having a strong evidence base for that thought other than how we feel about the situation. Often when things seem tough we can also choose to become more focussed on the negative aspects of a situation as opposed to the positives. Additionally, we can often ignore some of the facts around what we can actually do to help ourselves despite restrictions.
Are you finding lockdown difficult? Does it feel like some of your days sometimes lack the meaning you would like to attribute to day to day life?
While I understand how difficult that can be, you are certainly not alone and we can make changes to improve your mental health.
The following are some practical tips I have put together which I often share with clients for both covid related issues but also general mental health maintenance and improvement.
Tips to improve how you feel
Create your own meaning - It’s inevitably true that without work, academics, social outings and more, the same meaning we once found within our day to day may look a little different to what it once did. The good news is, meaning can be defined by us and meaning is often defined by our perception alone. What are some things you could do now that maybe you would only dream of doing when you were going about your 9-5 within work, school or managing the home? Whatever your circumstance, job or status, perhaps there is something you can find for this period of time that brings satisfaction and contentment. Remember like everything, this too, shall pass. Use your time wisely. Learn a new skill, a new language. Maybe just relax. The meaning can be created by you.
Journaling - Patrick Fitzgerald of Evolve recently wrote a blog on journaling which you can read here. Journaling is a process of reflection which I believe opens the door to bring us into deeper awareness of ourselves, others and our environment and when using a CBT structure it can help us identify unhelpful thoughts and behaviours which may be keeping us stuck in a bad place. Similar to how with the first step above, we can create change within ourselves - with our thoughts and behaviours which cause us to feel poorly, we can also change these. It all starts with awareness and journaling is a great place to start.
Stay connected with others - With socialising being restricted and being made distance from others, it has become increasingly difficult to feel connected to others. However, not all hope is lost and if we are willing to try other methods, it can still be possible for friendships, relationships and other networks of support to survive and even thrive! Pick up the phone, write a letter, send an email! Those and many more methods can keep you feeling connected. As humans we are social creatures, we are designed to connect with others. When our needs are unmet, often we can feel unwell. Reach out to somebody today, it could be just what you need!
Exercise - You will see a common thread throughout blogs and advisory pieces of writing with my name attached to them where I talk about exercise and it is for a number of reasons. Firstly, exercise as a remedy for anxiety and depression is evidence based and has been proven to show fantastic results in alleviating symptoms. Secondly, I have personally experienced and continue to experience daily the first hand improvements both physically and psychologically which come as a result of engaging in regular exercise. Don’t knock it til’ you’ve tried it!
Find a new hobby - It may seem like the worst and most unrealistic time to start something new, however - truth be told, life is still going on and so that means it’s ok to live a little. Finding a new hobby which is possible within the parameters of restrictions can be so refreshing and give you something new to look forward to. Connecting with what we’re passionate about can increase our wellbeing and create a deeper sense of purpose.
It is certainly a challenging time and has been for quite some time now, but remember - things will restore back to a level of normality. However, for now keep optimistic. Ask yourself, what is possible for me to achieve regardless of current measures in place? Remember, your mental health still needs to be prioritised and when you make those positive choices you will reap what you sow.
If you need support with your mental health during this time, why not reach out to us at Evolve. We would be happy to help and talk through ways you can improve your mental health and overall feel more like yourself again. Send us an email today on email@example.com or reach us through the contact us section on our website.
Best wishes for the future agus go mbeannaí dia dhuit!