Constant anxiety, economic stressors, and a lack of social interaction can lead to mental health challenges. While there’s no ‘works-for-everyone’ recipe, many people find relief using similar approaches these days. We’ve pulled up some mental health tips that will help you stay positive.
Tip #1 Create your new daily routine and stick to it
Your habitual daily activities are changing for a while and you are likely to see some disruption to your normal daily routine. Think about what your goals are and introduce activities that will help you achieve these goals. Start doing something you always wanted to but had no time for.
Setting new goals, creating a positive new routine, and sticking to it may bring you a sense of calmness and safety. The point is that when you experience repetitive motions and expected outcomes, you feel steady and safe. That’s how your subconscious works.
You might find it helpful to write a plan for tomorrow or next week. If you are working from home, try to wake up, get ready in the same way as usual, and stick to your normal working hours. You can set a couple of additional hours for a home workout, pick the time to clean the house, read, or watch some movies.
Routine is important because it creates your habits, while habits create your mood and nurture your personality. Our character is determined by daily habits and moods — how much we sleep, how frequently we exercise, what we think, how we entertain ourselves, and so on. The point is that it isn’t only our thoughts or activity that matter, but also the pattern of continually experiencing thoughts and activities, which produces a compounding effect and makes them valuable. Routine is what gives us a feeling of purpose.
Tip #2 Bring more mindfulness
Mindfulness is something that becomes even more popular than ever these days. In fact, mindfulness is the act of being consciously aware of your thoughts and attitudes. It comes in many forms: meditation, affirmations, breathing techniques, and keeping a diary or journal. Many people have found these practices helpful in shaping a more positive mindset.
One of the most popular suggestions is to start practicing gratitude regularly, focusing on the pleasant moments that happen every day. Write down just five things you are grateful for every day, however small they might seem. Also, try to recall and write down worries and stressors that took place during the day. Review the list at the end of the day and for those negative events that are still hanging around, ask yourself “Can I fix this?”. If the answer is no, just let it go. If the answer is yes, then start working on the action plan to fix it.
If you find yourself worried about what the future holds, practice focusing on the present, rather than on the past or future. Meditation and breathing techniques may help you with this. To dispel fears and anxieties, you need to come back to the present moment. Mindfulness practices may help you learn to control your thoughts and stop re-living obnoxious, unpleasant dialogues or events that have not happened. The habit of ‘’worst-case-scenario-thinking’ leads to fear, stress, and anxiety.
Tip #3 Stay fit and healthy
Our physical health has a big impact on our emotional and mental health. It can be tempting to fall into unhealthy behavior patterns like eating junk food, not drinking enough water, and lay on the couch rather than exercise regularly. However, well-balanced meals and regular physical activity can be the source of energy and pleasure.
In this time of stress, many of us are craving unhealthy food — especially sugary, salty empty calories. There is nothing wrong with you if you want to eat chips, chocolate cake, or one more pizza slice sometimes. It’s just you should understand that food is not the tool to soothe your emotions. Try to buy more fruits, vegetables, organic meat, fatty fish, olive oil to prepare some home-made meals — fresh food is always a better idea than canned or frozen products.
As for physical activity, you can have a walk, run, or bike ride alone or with family members of your household. Make sure you keep a safe 2-meter distance from others. You can also enjoy 15-30 minutes of online home workouts that are available on YouTube, for example. We highly recommend trying the HIIT exercises to burn calories, or yoga sessions to stretch and strengthen the entire body.
Tip #4 Find helpful distractions
To stop feeling worried, anxious, or lonely, we may need to start doing things we actually enjoy. Make an effort to focus on your favorite hobby (or find a new one!). For some people, creative activities like reading, drawing, cooking, or gardening may become helpful distractions. If you still have no idea what you should take as a hobby, you can start to learn something new. Luckily, today we have lots of free tutorials and courses online that are available.
Tip #5 Do not put extra pressure on yourself
We bet you have already had this frustrating feeling of guilt for not being productive enough. But you shouldn’t! Your value isn’t determined by your productivity. Trying to become the best version of yourself in a week and fill time to the extreme won’t help your mental health as it just puts extra pressure on your mind. The best you can do is to identify what you really want and which things are essential to you rather than rely on other people’s ‘shoulds’. Just find your own rhythm and goals. If watching Netflix this evening will make you calmer than learning a new language, then it’s okay, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about that.
Tip #6 Take care of your loved ones
Even if you cannot visit your family members or friends, for now, you should maintain warm relationships with people you trust and love. Think about how you can stay in touch with them by phone- or video-calls, messaging, or social media.
Many people find solace in looking after loved ones, whether by cooking meals, ordering food delivery for them, or spending time together, e.g. discussing movies, books together, or sharing some positive news. This will make you feel good and help you get through this uncertain period.
If you’ve got a web camera and an internet connection, you can still have dinner parties, game nights, and even karaoke sessions.
Taking care of your beloved pets also has plenty of mental health benefits like reducing anxiety, easing feelings of loneliness, decreasing stress, and improving sleep.
Tip #7 Limit media intake
Do not stay glued to the news — that is, we guess, the essential part of not going crazy. Try to limit the time you spend watching or reading news. You could set a specific time (no more than one hour a day) to read updates. Use trustworthy sources and fact-checked information from the news, social media, or other people (even if the information comes from influencers, do not rely on everything you hear).
Find a strict line between educating yourself with information that guides your decisions and stuffing yourself with information that simply increases anxiety. If you feel worried or anxious after coming into the news bubble, use online therapy platforms or apps to for self-help.