Maintaining Mental Health During Lockdown

Mental Health During Lockdown

In this unprecedented and uncertain time it is more important than ever for people to take steps to safe guard their mental health. We are all faced with circumstances never before experienced and are doing our best to find our way in this new world with new rules. I have highlighted some of the key things to consider to help maintain mental stability in this ever changing situation.

Lower your expectations about what can be achieved and remember that feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and anxious is normal in these circumstances.

Most of us are feeling some level of anxiety right now. We are worried about the health of our loved ones, the economy, our jobs and incomes and getting enough food and other essentials like medicine without getting or spreading infection. This is exhausting, yet social media seems to be putting pressure on us to use this time to get fit, learn a new language, take up knitting, start a degree and become a permaculture expert. All this on top of running the home, educating the kids, being the perfect partner, working from home etc, etc.

When we are under stress our concentration skills flag so don’t beat yourself up for not being superhuman. For now getting through the day without falling apart might be the best you can do and that’s okay. We are all trying to cope with the unknown and now might not be the best time to learn Spanish or start that business plan.

Avoid Information Overload by Taking a News Break

We are all trying to keep informed about what is happening in our communities as well as globally during the corona virus pandemic. Of course we need to be aware of how to keep safe and well during this time and we need to stay informed about government guidelines for public safety etc. We may also be seeking reassurance that everything will be okay. However, lots of exposure to all this information can leave us feeling anxious and drained. We might also be experiencing a lot of added information on social media which compounds our anxiety even more.

When we are exposed to frightening or sad news stories our brains are designed to react with a flight, fight or freeze response. The part of our brain that does this is trying to keep us safe and isn’t aware that we are viewing pictures on a screen. We may become angry, fearful or confused whilst watching or reading about these events.

Taking a break from the news for a day or two is a really good way to detox our brains and bodies from the fear responses we will feel when seeing all the tragic stories and statistics constantly being fed to us via media coverage. Instead of the news, try watching favourite films or comedy for 24 hours and perhaps take a break from social media too. This will reduce some of the overwhelm you may be feeling right now. Do this regularly to help maintain your wellbeing during the next few weeks.

Put Some Structure Into Your Day

Most of us are used to our routines and our weeks are structured with work, school and family life. We have places to let off steam such as the gym or night club and it is usually pretty easy to predict the shape our daily lives will take.

The sudden change is going to have an impact on most people and will leave many feeling like a ship without an anchor. This can bring about feelings of anxiety, hopelessness and even depression if not kept in check. Putting some form of structure into your daily routines will help prevent this. It would be too easy to sit in your pyjamas watching Netflix all day but this will eventually leave you feeling stale and low.

Finding a sense of purpose and achievement each day will really boost your mood.

Sit down and make a plan to bring some stability to your daily life, it doesn’t need to be a huge to do list. It may simply list times when you get up, take exercise, do a hobby, clean the house, garden etc. Perhaps make each day a little different and give yourself enjoyable activities to do as well as the everyday essentials.

Keep Active

If you are in the town or countryside there are plenty of ways to get physical during lockdown. Free youtube video workouts can be fun ways to spend time and get fit. There is something for everyone. Just half an hour a day will really help boost your mood and help you feel good. If you want to work harder then why not get an online fitness instructor to help you reach your goals.

If keep fit isn’t your bag then put on your favourite tune and dance. Dancing is great exercise but it also brings about a sense of joy.

Express Yourself

With music - Emotional or evocative music can help feelings of sadness or anger come to the surface and find self expression, if this happens just let the feelings come and move in a way that expresses them. Tears are good and will help you release tension too so listening to sad tracks that make you cry is a good way to express feelings and let go.

With writing- keeping a journal, writing poems or letters can be a great way to let go of your feelings and make sense of them.

With art - you don’t have to be a great artist to use crayons, paint, pens or pencils to express yourself and release tension. Just play with colour and shape to express your mood. Scribbling can feel really good no matter how old you are.

Connect with Nature

It is in our DNA to feel happier and more relaxed when we connect with the natural world. This may not be easy whilst in lockdown but nature connection can be acheived in small ways. When you take your daily walk take time to observe the beauty of a tree, the sky or a river. Even a small garden or windowbox can help us feel more connected and attuned to the natural world.

Guided relaxation is a great way to help manage tension, anxiety and stress. Practising relaxation everyday can help us process and manage stressful situations more effectively. There are lots of resources online like YouTube and Apps like Insight Timer which have free relaxation resources. You can try my free guided breath & body relaxation here.

When we are in the depths of sorrow, loss, grief or negativity it feels virtually impossible to connect with anything positive in our lives. Many people hold the belief that they cannot be open to positive feelings when life feels so hard but this is possible when we practice gratitude. To find out how you can bring the healing power of gratitude into your daily life here.

Reach Out to Others

Make time to talk to people you trust on the phone, via video call etc. Talk about your feelings and take the time to listen to your friends and family about how they are doing too.

Online support groups and group chats are being set up throughout our communities for those of us who are in isolation or need emotional support. It might feel a little weird at first but they can make all the difference to wellbeing and sense of community.

Useful Links for for help and support

Samaritans helpline for those struggling with emotional or mental health

Womens Aid support for women in danger of domestic abuse

online men's groups and online men's group facilitation trainings to help foster more connection and community in a time that desperately needs it.

Red tent online groups for women to connect and share in a safe supportive enviroment