According to the Mental Health Foundation, social distancing, lockdowns and COVID-19 fears and challenges can be hard on your mental health. Unless you take steps to care for yourself, things can easily get on top of you.
The good news is that daily self-care doesn’t have to be complicated. Even the smallest things can make a world of difference when it comes to your mental health.
Keep your body in motion
It doesn’t matter if you visit the gym, go for a hike or run, or follow an online yoga class. Staying active is healthy for both your mind and your body.
Studies have shown that regular exercise can cut down the risk of depression significantly. Even short bursts of physical activity can increase mental alertness and boost your mood and mental health. Exercise regularly and it can help you fight the stress that comes with these uncertain times.
Connect with others
In “normal” times, it’s likely that you have hundreds of interactions with people every day. They could include anything from saying hello to the barista at your local coffee house to chatting with co-workers or meeting a friend for lunch.
Since casual interactions have been drastically reduced in an effort to keep the pandemic under control, you’ll now have to make an effort to connect with others.
This is the perfect time to pick up the phone, write a message or talk over Zoom. If you’re missing your friends, have a Zoom party. Set up a day and time – don’t make it open-ended or it could be overwhelming and perhaps even boring – and decide on the kind of party you’ll have.
An intimate gathering of 4-5 friends at a time that’s convenient for everybody is a great way to catch up and relax for an hour or so after a long day.
Mindfulness is all about being present and being truly aware of your surroundings and what your senses are experiencing. It’s a good way to work on your mental health without going into a full-on meditation session.
Mindfulness helps you stop ‘autopilot’ behaviour – an easy trap to fall into when your days all look and feel the same because you’re working from home and not socialising much.
When you go out for a walk with your dog, put your phone away and use your senses to truly experience the walk. Interact with your dog, listen to the birds, and smell the wet grass.
At home, there are many great mental health apps you can use to help you refocus, manage stress and improve your sleep.
Do something fun every day
It’s easy to fall into a pattern of getting up, working and going to sleep if you’re socialising less and feeling stressed. To avoid this, set aside some time every day for some self-care projects. This could be a 15-minute break with a book, pampering yourself or pursuing a hobby.
If you’re feeling anxious, don’t push yourself to do too much or suddenly take on a demanding, time-consuming hobby. Adding fun in your daily life doesn’t have to cost much and can be great for your mental health.
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