10 WAYS TO GUARD YOUR MENTAL HEALTH DURING THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK

Its challenging times for our mental and emotional wellbeing. The uncertainty of Covid-19 and its consequences is difficult to know as are social distancing requirements. All our lives have been affected profoundly.

It’s hard to find your equilibrium. So many of our routines and activities we took for granted have fallen to one side .– our daily commute, the gym, normal shopping. Most of us can cope for a week or two off work,  but several weeks, maybe months of isolation, of juggling family demands with working from home, of not seeing our loved ones face to face ,of worrying about parents/grandparents job, cashflow, the list is endless. the only consolation is we are ALL in it .

How can  we use this lockdown in a positive way?

Use these key practices to guard your body and mind during this crisis.

1. Be good to your body. Remember if you are well physically, you are on the way to good mental health too.

2. Get enough sleep. Have a good sleep routine. Don’t sleep longer just because you are home.

3. Have a set routine. This will give you purpose and help structure the day. Not having a routine can cause more stress. Have a set time for sleep, meals, exercise and work. Get some sun and move every day. You do not need to travel far-the garden is fine. A routine is essential, but try to do a different activity daily eg a film, start a new book, learn something new or just spend a few minutes on self-care like give yourself a facial, meditate, listen to music, anything. You may wish to take up online videos of exercise or dance. Regular exercise lowers stress lowers anxiety, increases mood and strengthens our immune system. Feed your body and mind.  Choose healthy options. Make one small improvement in your diet daily eg less sugar, more water,, extra greens etc.

4. Be kind to your mind. Push negative thoughts away e.g.I m going to be ill, I’m going to be financially ruined. Choose not to dwell on these thoughts but focus on positivity however small.

5. Practice gratitude. Find something good in everything and everyone around you. Create a positive aura/space around you. Learn to appreciate nature, be in nature just by looking out of the window or in the garden and noticing something new, it may be a crumpled leaf, a playful squirrel or just branches swaying in the breeze. 

6. Breathe. Do not underestimate the power of breathing .i) Release tension-sit comfortably and take 3 slow relaxing breaths. Lift your shoulders up to your ears and feel the tension. Then relax your shoulders. Repeat. Finish with three slow breaths. ii) Close your eyes, breathe into the count of 4. Feel your belly rise and expand. Exhale slowly for the count of eight. Pause.Start the next inhale. Repeat this for 1-3 minutes.

7. Make sure you have moments of tech-free time – hide your phone and enjoy moments away from messages calls etc. If you find yourself overwhelmed by grim news, step away, check-in just once a day and only believe reliable sources. You can’t do better than the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine www.cebm.net/oxford-covid-19.

8. Come from love. Yes, it is hard, things can get irritating at home at the moment. Invest time and energy (virtually) in people who will be with you no matter what .Having everyone around you 24/7 is challenging, but having some patience will help you through.

9. Serve others. Nothing is more fulfilling than making others around you happy and comfortable. It is rewarding for you too. find a purpose even during these worrying times. That doesn’t mean put yourself at risk. See how you can get involved in online projects. 

10. Plan what you are going to do after lockdown is over!

Author Sushma Bhanot 

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