20 ways to stay sane during lockdown.

20 ways to stay sane during lockdown.

Despite current restrictions around lock down easing, many people are still quarantined in their homes with little social contact. This may be a testing time on many levels but there are many ways we can alleviate the pressure on our mental health. Here are our top suggestions:

 

  1. Stick to a daily routine. Go to sleep and wake up at a similar time and don’t slip into early hours bedtime habits. Write a timetable that offers variety and schedule in time for work as well as rest and play.

 

  1. Get outside your four walls at least once a day. If you are concerned about contact venture out first thing in the morning or later in the evening. A simple walk around the block can provide the mental reset needed when you feel your mind slipping into negativity.

 

  1. Find some time to move each day. The prescribed thirty minutes enough to get those feel good hormones whizzing around the body. If you want a dedicated class there are many YouTube videos that offer free classes and programs.

 

  1. Reach out to others daily. There are so many different ways to connect. Try FaceTime, Skype, phone calls or texting to connect with other people in order to seek and provide support.

 

  1. Stay hydrated and eat well. Drink plenty of water, eat good, nutritious foods and get cooking from scratch. Focus on whole foods in their natural state. Ditch the takeaways (if that is an option) and spend time thinking about food as medicine in a time when your natural defences and physical health have never been so important.

 

  1. Put together your own self-care mental health kit. Include items that involve a sensory component (touch, taste, sight, hearing, smell, vestibular (movement) and proprioceptive (comforting pressure). An idea for each: a soft blanket or stuffed animal, a hot chocolate, nostalgic photos, comforting music, lavender or eucalyptus oil, a weighted blanket, a beautiful journal and pen, an inspirational book, and a colouring book. When you feel your mood slipping or can’t turn off those catastrophic thoughts go to the box and exercise some necessary self-care.

 

  1. Practice mindful patience and give people the benefit of the doubt. Everybody will have moments when they will not be at their best. It is important to move with grace through triggers and disagreements and try not to show up for every argument. Everyone is doing the best they can to make it through this and harbouring anger, resentment or malice is damaging to mental health and emotional equilibrium.

 

  1. Space can be at a premium, particularly with city living but It is important identify a space for retreat when things feel overwhelming. Identify a place where you can go to calm down when stressed. You can make this place cosy by using blankets, pillows, cushions, scarves, beanbags and even tents. It is good to know that even when we are on top of each other, we have our own special place to go to be alone.

 

  1. Lower expectations at the moment and practice radical self-acceptance. We are doing too many things at this moment, under fear and stress. Instead, give yourself what psychologists call “radical self-acceptance” which simply means accepting everything about yourself, your current situation, and your life without judgement. You cannot fail at this, it is not a test and there is no precedent. We are all doing the best we can in an impossible situation. You are doing your best and that is enough.

 

  1. Limit social media and COVID conversation. The amount of negative news can be extremely overwhelming. That doesn’t mean to cannot update daily with key pieces of information. Check in with one trusted news source every day. What are you really going to miss? Somebody will soon fill you in soon enough.

 

  1. Take time to notice the good in the world. Yes there is a lot of scary, negative, and overwhelming information to take in regarding this pandemic. On the flip side there are also lots of stories about people sacrificing, donating, and supporting one another in miraculous ways. You may need to look a little further than the mainstream media but it is out there!

 

  1. It’s a fact that helping others benefits both you and them. Find ways however big or small to give back to others. Helping others will increase your own wellbeing through a renewed sense of purpose. Support local business, offer to shop for elderly neighbours, check in with friends and family. These acts of kindness help to levy perspective and get you out of your head, home and personal concerns.

 

  1. Find something you can control. In times when you feel overwhelmed by circumstance find something in your little corner of the world to control. Clear out your wardrobe, pressure wash the patio, rearrange your furniture and clean the house. This is an amazing grounding exercise and helps to anchor us when the bigger things feel chaotic.

 

  1. Find a long-term project to dive into. Now is the time to learn how to play an instrument, put together a huge jigsaw puzzle, read all those unread books, paint a picture, crochet a blanket or start an online course. Find something that will keep you busy, distracted, and engaged to give you respite from what is going on in the outside world. It could also prepare you for the new normal with a vocational skill, new website or marketing plan.

 

  1. Research has shown that repetitive movement (knitting, colouring, painting, clay sculpting, jump roping etc) especially left-right movement (running, drumming, skating, hopping) can be effective at self-soothing and maintaining self-regulation in moments of distress.

 

  1. Our emotional brain is very receptive to the creative arts and it is a direct portal for the release of feeling. Find something that is creative (sculpting, drawing, dancing, music, singing, playing) and express yourself you will feel better for it.

 

  1. Seek out some humour in each day. There may be a lot to be worried about but counterbalance this heaviness with something funny each day. What makes you laugh? It might be overt such as a particular comedian or programme or designed such as laughter yoga.

 

  1. Focus on whatever bite-sized piece of a challenge that feels manageable. Try to exercise this present or near future ‘doing’ as much as possible. There are too many variables at the moment and trying to exercise a plan into next month is likely to cause anxiety and overwhelm. Chunk your days and keep aware of what is on your plate right now.

 

  1. Remind yourself daily that this is temporary. This pandemic can feel never ending and it is terrifying to think of the road stretching ahead of us. Its important to remind yourself that despite this difficult time it is a season of life and it will pass. We will return to feeling free, safe, busy, and connected in time.

 

  1. Find the lesson. When psychologists work with trauma, a key feature to helping someone is to find potential positive outcomes. We may not be able to change this situation but we can construct a sense of meaning out of destruction. The question to ask is what can each of us learn here, in big and small ways, from this crisis.

 

 

 

 

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