Mental health has come to the fore during the Covid-19 crisis. For many of us, the last six months have been challenging and the lockdown has prompted us to think about our health and wellbeing more. If you’re looking for ways to protect and nourish your mental health, here are some tips to bear in mind.
Tackle sources of stress
Stress is part and parcel of modern life, but there are ways to manage stress effectively. If you’re struggling to cope with stress, it’s wise to try and tackle the causes head-on. The most common causes of stress among UK adults are work-related pressures and money worries. If you’ve got too much on your plate, or working from home is proving difficult, talk to your boss. It may be possible to access extra support or additional resources or to lighten your workload. If you’re anxious about money, there is support available. At the moment, many people are finding it tough to stay afloat, and there’s no shame in reaching out if you’re having trouble paying your bills, or you’re worried about how you’re going to keep a roof over your head if you lose your job. There are ways of dealing with debts, and if you’re a homeowner, it may be possible to freeze payments or to consider secured loans as a means of paying off outstanding bills. Contact a reputable financial adviser or speak to your bank or mortgage provider to see if there are schemes or initiatives in place and to explore different options.
Focus on solutions, not problems
There’s no doubt that the last few months have created obstacles and thrown metaphorical spanners in the works for many of us. When it seems as though there is no light at the end of the tunnel, it’s natural to focus on the negatives, but this will only make you feel worse. Try to identify solutions and be as positive as possible. If you’re working from home, and it’s not ideal with children and pets interrupting or a lack of space to escape the noise, enjoy the silver lining of being able to spend more time with your children, take control of your schedule or simply enjoy a cup of tea in your joggers in the morning, rather than having to get up at the crack of dawn, get dressed and negotiate rush hour traffic.
Look after your body
Physical and mental health are intertwined, and taking good care of your body can have an incredibly positive impact on your mental wellbeing and vice-versa. Try to exercise frequently, eat well and make sure you get enough rest. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night, try and incorporate daily exercise into your routine and ensure your diet is balanced and nutritious. If you’re having trouble sleeping, increasing physical activity should help. It’s also beneficial to get into a routine, which affords time to relax and unwind in the evenings and enables your body clock to adjust. If you get into bed and get up at the same time each day, you should find that you start to feel tired as your bedtime looms and that you’re alert when your alarm goes off in the morning. It’s also helpful to avoid checking emails or doing anything that might stimulate your brain or heighten anxiety before bed. Take some time to chill out before you hit the hay. Run a bath, read, listen to a soothing playlist or catch up with a friend. Create a tranquil haven to promote relaxation. If your bedroom is stuffed full of clutter, or it’s noisy at night, tidy everything away, add cosiness with soft furnishings and ambient lighting and use heavy curtains or blackout blinds to reduce light and noise. You could also use earplugs to block out noise.
Exercising regularly is advantageous for physical and mental health. If you walk, jog, cycle, climb, jump, ride or dance on a daily basis, you should find that your energy levels increase, you feel happier and more confident and you’re better able to manage and control your emotions. Activities like Pilates, swimming, yoga and walking are ideal for winding down if you feel stressed or tired, while boxing, HIIT sessions, spin classes, running and playing golf or tennis can help channel frustration or anger.
Many people are experiencing stress, anxiety and periods of feeling low at the moment. If you’re looking for ways to prioritise mental health and nourish wellbeing, take these tips on board. Try and identify and address causes of stress and anxiety, ask for help, maintain a positive mindset and look after your body.