LOCKDOWN TIPS TO PROTECT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

It’s no secret that we’re living through a weird and scary and difficult time. And, whether you’ve suffered with mental health issues before or not, it’s only natural to feel anxious, panicky, depressed, a bit mad, or whatever you’re feeling.

With the world on lockdown, and a completely unfamiliar situation on our hands, it’s hard to know how to react. There’s definitely not a right or wrong way to feel and everyone I’ve spoken too is handling it differently.

When you’re pretty much stuck in isolation, it’s pretty difficult to gauge other people’s emotional reactions, so all I can do is share my thoughts on what’s going on, where my head’s at and how I’m getting through it.

I often talk about my anxiety, panic attacks and depression, and naturally, all of these things have manifested themselves in new ways over the past few days. My mind has been all over the place, catastrophising about where I stand with my job and fixating on the anxiety of the unknown. When you spend so much time alone (or more time than usual alone), it’s difficult to stay rational.

To keep myself healthy, I’ve been trying to establish myself a routine this week. Lots of walking and trying to stay as normal as possible. For me, that’s the only way to cope with all the not normal stuff going on. But for some people, sticking to normal might not be an option. So, I’ve had some ideas that have helped me channel my thoughts and anxieties in the past.

1. Meditate – apps like Headspace are amazing, whether you’ve meditated before or it’s a totally new concept. Guided sessions give you a sense of awareness of what’s going on in your body and your head. It helps you to reclaim a sense of control over how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking. It’s also amazing if you’re struggling to sleep.

2. Go outside – there is so much good to be had from fresh air. Unlike many other countries, the UK isn’t on total lockdown, and whilst we might not be able to go to the pub or the gym or to grab a coffee, we can still go outside. Sitting inside the same four walls is as bad for your emotional state as it is for your physical wellbeing and, with spring around the corner, it doesn’t hurt to get some vitamin D either.

3. Talk to people – sure, social distancing is a thing right now, but we’re lucky enough to live in an era where we can stay connected, even if we’re miles from each other. Whatever it is you’re feeling, talking about it gets it out of your head and into the world. And sometimes, when you say stuff out loud it just doesn’t seem so bad anymore.

4. Write it down – if you can’t talk about it, writing it down can be just as useful. I have made a habit of always having a notebook and pen by my bed, in my bag and wherever else I might need it, just to write down the thoughts that, more often than not, take over everything else in my head.

5. Exercise – I know as much as anyone that being a slug, whilst comfortable, is not the way to lift yourself out of depression. Moving is so important, whether you’re taking yourself for a walk or setting yourself a mini circuit at home. Obviously, there’s loads of online fitness plans and workout videos you can do and it’s definitely worth trying to do at least something every few days.

These are just a couple of ideas, but, since we’re coming together as a community right now, if anyone else has any tips, I would love for you to share them on here too.

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