By Carolyn Hobdey, author, media commentator and mentor specialising in life change (www.carolynhobdey.com)
Never has the spotlight been so brightly shone upon our mental wellbeing as it has throughout the covid pandemic. In fact, the normalisation of speaking more openly about our psychological welfare has been one of the glimmers of light that has come out of the situation.
As restrictions continue to ease and we regain parts of our lives we have been denied for many months, the ongoing coronavirus mental health ‘hangover’ should not be under- estimated. It remains vital that we continue to safeguard our mental wellbeing by taking conscious steps to shore it up.
A few simple changes to our everyday lives can make a significant difference to our mind hygiene. In case that sounds like hard work, the focus here is not about adding more things to our already busy lives, but instead eliminating those things (or people!) that don’t serve us well and making small changes to pre-existing routines.
Here are six top tips to keep you in a mentally positive place:
H: Hello! – the power of connection with others has really been high- lighted whilst we’ve been kept away from friends and loved ones. Make regular time to speak or meet with people who positively impact on you. Laugh, offload and instantly reduce your stress. As an added bonus to yourself, say ‘hello’ to a stranger and see how good that spontaneous act feels.
E: Exercise – the power of exercise is well known for improving our mental health as well as our physical health. That doesn’t change the fact that starting a new exercise regime or going to a public gym can be daunting, so just move – dance around at home, walk briskly outside, run up and down the stairs – it all helps… no-one is asking you to become an athlete.
A: Achievements – at the end of each day think about three things you’ve achieved that day – however small. If you want, write them down, but it’s also ok to do this exercise whilst you clean your teeth before bed
at night. Take those couple of minutes to think about what those achievements say about you and your values – and congratulate yourself for them!
L: Listen – consciously noticing your self-talk (how you talk to yourself in your own mind) can make a notable difference to how you feel. Catch yourself when you speak negatively and look for ways to turn those into positive thoughts. Ask yourself – what’s the upside that I’ve learnt from that mistake/failure/issue that I’m beating myself up about?
T: Time-out – our ‘always on’ society can leave you exhausted. So set aside a regular time each week when you turn off your technology, give yourself a break from the news & media and go to do something positive for you instead. Meditate (it can take as little as 10 mins and there are lots of free Apps to guide you), make yourself a drink and sit quietly for a while or spend quality time with a loved one.
H: Help – getting good at asking for and accepting help is great for reducing stress. Remember that when you ask someone for their help you’re saying, “you have something that I value” – which makes them feel good too! When asking for help, increase your chances of a ‘yes’ by being specific about what help you need and when as well as why they are the best person to assist you.