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LIFESTYLE

Mental Health Awareness Week & Covid-19 | 6 Things to Remember

Mental Health Awareness Week & Covid-19 | 6 Things to Remember

    I am starting to talk about far more frequently on here is self-care. It’s something that has, and will always be important, but it’s taking a primary focus for many of us at the moment, given that we are all in the midst of a global pandemic and with it being Mental Health Awareness Week. We are all in a highly stressful situation, one that is totally new to and unknown to all of us, which makes it so much more important to make sure we take care of ourselves.



    Now it’s important to remember that self-care is not all about bath bombs and face masks. Yes, they are great, and yes, they do form a part of a good self-care routine, but only a fraction. There are many other ways to practice good self-care, and I’ll be covering some of those in today’s post.

    Avoid the news

    The news is designed to trigger a spike of emotion, usually excitement or fear. News outlets want you to watch or read their content, and they are quite happy to use click bait titles, shock or inject some drama to make you do so. All this serves to do at the moment is cause anxiety and panic for many people, which quite frankly none of us need at the moment.


    If it isn’t practical for you to avoid the news entirely or you want to still be somewhat informed, perhaps think about limiting how much you read or watch it. Don’t be tempted to check infection or mortality figures in your area every half an hour, as this will do nothing good for you. I personally limit myself to every other day or whenever the UK government makes an announcement, and stick to the more credible news outlets for information.


    Sleep

    Did you know that we need more sleep when we are feeling stressed? Since lockdown, I’ve seen and heard many people mention that they are feeling a lot more tired than usual, and its highly likely that feeling stressed or anxious is a large contributor. A lot of recovery to the mind and body takes place during sleep, so it’s important that we get enough of it. A good before bed routine also known as sleep hygiene is beneficial to helping us achieve good quality sleep. I actually have a post that I put together a little while about all about practising good sleep hygiene so if you’d like to learn a little more you can find it over at my regular blog; emsworldblog.com


    In addition to good habits getting to sleep in the first place, it’s important that you listen to your body and what it needs. If you wake up exhausted on your day off, listen to what your body is telling you and allow yourself a little more rest. 


    My final point surrounding sleep is to try and maintain your normal sleeping pattern as best you can. There will be a point where we are back to our usual routines, or close to them, and if you start making habits of staying up until the early hours when you wouldn’t normally, you are setting yourself up for a harder time later down the line.



    Exercise

    I know that not everyone is in a position to be doing high intensity exercise, but a simple wal
    out in day light is all you need. When we exercise, our body starts to use up cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Time outside in natural daylight can also help with our sleep cycle, which feeds back to my previous point.


    If you can run 10k, great, good for you but if all you can manage is a 15 minute walk, then that’s fine too. If you can get yourself out in nature or green space, then even better. Perhaps walk to the shop rather than drive there? Obviously stick the what is practical for you, if you need a full shop and live 20 miles from your closest shop, walking there and back is perhaps not your best option. If however it’s a manageable walk and you won’t have too much to carry, maybe opt to get there on foot instead.



    Distance physically, not socially 

    I don’t actually like the term ‘social distancing’, as I think it’s a little misleading to what we actually need to be doing. Our social interaction isn’t the problem, it’s our physical interaction and proximity that needs to be managed. With today’s technology, it’s very easy to keep connected and remain social in a safe and appropriate way. From facetime, to phone calls, social media or even sending a letter or gift to a friend in the post, there are so many ways we can remain connected and social with each other without being physically in the same place. So, yes, you should maintain physical distance as per the guidelines wherever you are, but it’s important to try and stay in contact with people and maintain friendships and relationships. 


    Control what you can

    There are a lot of things out of our control at the moment, which for many is a very uncomfortable feeling. However, there are still many things that we can control, and the focus should be on them. A good starting point is time. Your time, structure, schedule, is all under your control. Work space and environment is within your control too. 


    Maybe next time you are out food shopping grab some pretty flowers to display near your work space? Or if you are not going out to shop, utilise a flower delivery service. Perhaps use your favourite stationary for the day? Or if you are hiding away in bed watching Netflix, change your bedding to freshly washed sheets and treat yourself to your favourite PJs. By focusing on all of the things we can control, especially if they are positive, we’ll feel a little better about the things that we can’t. 


    Turn off social media

    If you feel bad that such and such has gone on their 3rd run this week, baked a cake, and seems to be doing just fine, but you haven’t even managed to get dressed that week; stop. That could simply be their way of coping or keeping themselves busy and you are under no obligation to do the same. If you want to hide away from the world and watch Netflix, you should do just that. If you want to train as if you are running a marathon, go for it. 


    Now is not the time to be pressuring ourselves, or comparing ourselves to what other people are or aren’t doing, it’s the time to be looking after ourselves. If it’s having a negative impact on you, keep away from social media for a day or so. 


    Stress can have a huge impact both physically and mentally. Don’t beat yourself up or feel less about yourself for feeling more stressed than usual; we’re all feeling it in some shape or form, even if some people are doing a good job of hiding it. Our situation is stressful, so it’s only natural to be feeling it.


    Do you have any tips to keep yourself stress free?

    *Previously posted to www.emsworldblog.com  

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