Looking after your Mental Health in Lockdown
Starting 2021 the right way
As we begin a new year in lockdown (and the chaos that this brings to our lives), we must pay closer attention to our wellbeing. Whether you are working from home or back in the workplace, the current restrictions are having a negative impact on our collective wellness.
When restrictions were first introduced, we were all stressed and anxious about the dangers of the virus. Although this fear and uncertainty persists today, we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel and a hope for the near future is keeping many of us going.
In the first lockdown back in March, warmer weather and brighter evenings helped us maintain our morale. However this lockdown presents us with new challenges. January, traditionally a month of resolutions and new beginnings, can also be difficult for many of us in normal times, with shorter days and bad weather. Add tougher restrictions and it’s easy to see how our wellbeing could be challenged.
There are many things that we can do to counteract these challenges such as: regular exercise, eating well and connecting with people in a safe way. However, many of us are seeking out more to help us this time around.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when times are challenging:
Become Informed not Overwhelmed
It’s important that we all stay informed. Many of us are spending our time analyzing the daily case numbers and taking comfort when the trend is decreasing and engaging social media to keep informed. The negative impact is that we can become drawn into too much ‘bad news’. Television, radio and social media are full of bad news stories all day every day and consuming too much negative information impacts us.
With that in mind, it’s important that we regulate the amount of media we consume and counteract it with some positive experiences in our day, such as mindfulness, an online exercise class, or listening to an uplifting song or podcast. We can easily become overwhelmed by what we are exposed to at the moment, but there are many things we can do to alleviate these effects. Find something that helps you.
As an employer, encourage staff to become more mindful and think of offering online wellness programmes as part of your HR or culture practices.
Focus on What You Can Control
In times of crisis our minds can quickly become overwhelmed, making it difficult to focus on any task. To counteract this it’s important to narrow our focus and concentrate on the aspects of our lives that we can control. There are a lot of things that we can do to gain a sense of control over what is happening at the moment, such as:
- Establishing Routines: For most of us our work practices have drastically changed. By now most of us have developed new routines for our days but it’s important to regularly audit these routines to make sure that they are the best use of your time, you are meeting the demands of work so you don’t become overwhelmed, but also have time for self-care.
- Take Care of Yourself: During times of high stress the first thing that we tend to stop doing are the things that are good for our health and wellbeing. Now more than ever it’s vital to make time to take care of yourself. Simple things like chatting to a colleague or friend or making time for hobbies where possible will make a big difference to your overall wellbeing.
Regardless of our current work or life circumstances we should remind ourselves regularly – the past year has been extremely challenging, but consider the key things that we have all learned about ourselves:
We are a lot more resilient than we give ourselves credit for. People have been challenged over the last year in a way that no one could have foreseen. Whether it was working remotely, adapting to new health and safety routines in the workplace, or an unfortunate change of work circumstances, we have managed to work together and overcome the immense challenges we have faced.
As we begin a new year, it’s important to remember that resilience is developed by overcoming challenges in our lives. One of the most positive things we can all take from a difficult year is that we have developed an inner strength that will help us all be more resilient in the future.
Many of us fear change, which can often be a limiting factor in our personal growth. Our routines provide us safety but sometimes we become stuck in negative patterns which can influence our wellbeing. When the initial restrictions were brought in, many people struggled to cope but as time went by we adapted and found new routines and ways of staying connected with others.
Although our collective experience has been difficult, we have shown how capable we are of adapting to change in our lives. Having lived through this experience we can look forward and learn to be more confident when it comes to making changes for the better in our lives.
We tend to focus on the negative situations and events in our lives, our minds often seek out the things we do not have rather than focusing on the things we do have. Many of us have adopted an attitude of gratitude throughout the last number of months. We have realised through necessity that we have a lot to be thankful for. Even though many families have suffered greatly, many of us have begun to take notice of the good things in our lives that we are thankful for.
Positive psychology states that practicing gratitude can not only improve our outlook in life but also improve our relationships and have an overall positive effect on our wellbeing. When we do eventually return to normality, I think it is important to bring this new perspective with us.
Whatever your current situation is, remember what we have come through and remember how resilient we have been. These lessons in our resilience will help us maintain our sense of wellbeing.