This World Mental Health Day, advises how best to keep your mental health in check during uncertain times
Facing the so-called ‘winter of discontent’ can leave many of us feeling confused and anxious about what’s to come, especially within the context of the past 18 months. There’s a real sense of trepidation towards re-adjusting to the longer-term implications of Covid-19, such as returning to the workplace and the looming wave of redundancies as the furlough scheme ends.
There’s also a huge increase in financial uncertainty, with October marking an energy price cap and supply chain crises pushing up food prices. This is undoubtedly going to be a difficult time for each and every one of us; it’s completely natural to feel anxious or stressed.
Through juggling all of this, it’s never been more important to try and keep our minds and bodies active. Here’s a few expert pieces of advice on how to keep your mental wellbeing in check during this uncertain time.
It’s been bandied around a lot, but it is vital to maintain or establish a routine when there’s so much going on outside of your control. Without one, it becomes easy to slip into bad habits, such as dwelling on our anxiety and negative thoughts.
Keep it simple. Make sure you get out of bed every morning at a reasonable time, so you’re more likely to be tired at bedtime. Likewise, try to eat at regular times so you don’t graze throughout the day.
Try to move around as much as possible. You can dig out workout videos or follow online workouts if you don’t want to attend an in-person activity, although it’s important to remember to exercise safely and within the limits of your own body. There are a huge number of routines available for all levels of fitness.
If you have a garden, incorporate time into your daily routine where you can be free to move around, breathe in some fresh air and look at the sky.
As well as exercise, nutrition is vital. Ensure you eat well and keep hydrated, moderate your caffeine intake and avoid consuming too much alcohol. Looking after your body will really help maintain your mental health.
Learn something new
When has there been a better opportunity to finally write that book you’ve meaning to, or learn a new language? Look at online resources and see what’s available to you, or simply work through the wider reading you might have been collecting for a few years.
Spend some time cooking or baking, drawing or finally tackling that DIY project you’ve been putting off.
Use this time to slow down and appreciate the things that matters, like friends and family.
Maintaining some control
From time to time, we might feel as though we lack control over our lives. However, it’s important to focus on the areas you can control. We may not be able to wholly prevent ourselves from contracting the coronavirus or control the prices of household essentials, but we can choose wise actions to minimise the risk and to follow government advice.
Recognising and accepting this will help to alleviate some of the anxieties brought on. Likewise, if you’re struggling financially, there are avenues that can help you to take control, such as a range of independent, government and NHS-backed financial helplines.
Try to speak to your friends and family as often as you can. Share your feelings and fears with others – it’s likely that you won’t be alone in them – and consider offering yourself up as a listening ear to your loved ones. It will provide you with a sense of purpose and give your day some meaning.
Try to find opportunities to laugh and indulge in shared humour. It will not only calm you down and restore happy endorphins, but also allow for bursts of escapism.
It’s so important to give yourself permission to tune out from the current events, if or when you feel as though your emotions are becoming overwhelming. Stick to watching the news just once a day and limit your exposure to rolling news channels. Whilst there are many stories on the news that are anxiety-provoking, there are also opportunities to focus on the huge amount of kindness and community spirit. This will help bring you some perspective and remind us all that there are many people trying to help.
This will pass, and the future – which may feel uncertain at the minute – will bring with it some clarity and hopefully a renewed sense of normality.
Click here for more advice on taking care of your mental wellbeing