I started writing this a few weeks ago because I was trying to think of some encouraging things to share. I don’t know a lot about a lot of things and I’m pretty much winging it on a daily basis if I’m honest. I do know what it feels like to have a bad week though, even a bad year, and I’m constantly striving to keep my mental health in good condition. Never has that been more important than in the last “blah” weeks of lockdown. I can’t even remember what week we’re onto now!
The irony is that, not long after starting to write about positivity, the emotional rollercoaster (that we’re all on at the moment!) took a dip for me, and so I felt far from positive, and it felt really hard to even try and shift my thinking from negative.
Today does mark the start of Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, so perhaps it’s all well timed. The encouragement this year is to “be kind”, which is a good reminder as we truly don’t know what others may be dealing with behind closed doors, and even more so now since we are spending so much time at home more recently.
Please don’t think that I have it all figured out, because I don’t. I often have to remind myself of the practical things I can do to improve my mental health and so this is as much for myself as for anyone else. I also reached out to my Instagram followers and asked what they had been doing recently to stay positive and so I’ve shared some of their tips too.
Find a routine
Even if you are still working or working from home, a new routine has had to be created and this can play havoc with your mood. I do love a routine (yes I am one of those people!) and so I must admit that I found it hard to be thrust into lockdown. It took me a couple of weeks to get my head around what was happening and how it was affecting us personally.
It doesn’t have to be a strict routine, but just having something that distinguishes what day it is has helped me!
“Write a little to do list each day”@woodsintothewoods
I have always loved a list, but I’m wanting to improve this by also including time each day for downtime. I constantly rush round doing things, but I need to just sit and do something that will help me. Having a bath is often a good option for because it is the only time I truly stop. You don’t have to write it down if that doesn’t work for you, but having in mind some things that you’d like to achieve each day can really help you focus on positive things. Yes, binge watching a complete season of your favourite show counts too!
It has long been said that exercise is good for your mental health, and at this time it is probably needed more than ever. I’ve been trying to get out for a walk or a run and I’ve been doing home workouts too. I always feel better for it, and when I had a really bad day a few weeks ago, I realised that I hadn’t left the house for nearly a week. Getting out and seeing how spring time has brought out all the flowers and blossom really helped.
“Limiting exposure to the news has really helped me”@littledevonhome
When I go out for a run or a walk on my own, it gives me some headspace. I might listen to my favourite music, a podcast or an audio book. Sometimes I have called friends and family at the same time. I can feel the tension go and I come home feeling refreshed. When I go for a walk with my husband it gives us an opportunity to talk. We’re not distracted by anything that may be happening at home and we can talk through how we feel, things that have happened in the day that may have affected us and our plans (usually house plans!). Talking is so important, especially when your mood is lower than usual and can help to process what is going on in your head. So many times when I have talked to someone that I trust, I am always reminded that I am not alone.
“We keep a journal of all the fun things we do and how we feel.”@ripon.house1887
Wow! This is definitely one thing that I need to do more! My first reaction is to comfort eat and so I’ll be honest, I probably should be exercising more than I’m eating right now!! Perhaps that’s why the bikini body is eluding me.
I’ve been doing a meal plan, for a few reasons. I did it before because I’m not the greatest cook and so I need to know what I’m cooking that week, but now it feels so much more important. I’ve been trying to limit my trips to the supermarket, and I’ve been trying to choose meals that can be cooked in the slow cooker and in bulk so that I can freeze other portions. This does mean that on days where I’m just not feeling up to cooking, there is already a meal ready to defrost and eat.
I have got into baking again though, mainly so that there are tasty treats around. Again, I’m starting to see why the bikini body may have to wait until 2021!
“Every day I think of 5 things that I am grateful for”@linsdrabwell
Connect with friends and family
I’ve briefly mentioned this already, but it’s certainly worth mentioning again. Talking to friends and family is really important, especially when you feel that you’re struggling with your mental health that week, or you’re just not having a good day.
I don’t live near my family or close friends and so I can’t say that I’ve missed being able to pop round to their house, but I have missed some family celebrations where we would usually be together in person. We have tried to be together virtually and I’m sure we’re not the only ones who feel that their general knowledge has been put to the test with all the quizzes!
“Read a book. Do a jigsaw. Remember small things that make me smile…”@lifewiththeowens
I have found it to be quite draining to be on video on a constant basis, so I have tried to vary how I contact friends and family. I have had a phone call conversation with them whilst on a walk, or pottering around the house (I even caught up with a friend when I was sanding walls the other day!) and I’ve got back into writing letters too. It has been so lovely to know that they have been appreciated and have arrived just at the right time.
“Thinking about what I’m grateful for.”
Enjoy the simple things
I think out of everything, this has been the most constant. The first two weeks of lockdown were pretty tough and there was a lot to process. There were some days where I felt like just staying in bed and feeling sorry for myself. I then started to think of all those who were dealing with more difficult situations than we were; for example I’m not trying to home school children or care for ill loved ones. It certainly helped me to put things into perspective.
Saying that, I do think that we need to just let ourselves have bad days and not really fight them too hard. It truly is an emotional rollercoaster, and once I started to expect a bad day as much as a good day, it really helped me to accept it. There is a lot to process and we need to give ourselves time to catch up and deal with any curve balls that come, because that’s life right now.
Some of the simple things I have been enjoying are:
Flowers, the sound of birds, a slow morning, walks to see the sunset, baking, finding a new red wine that I like, funny videos and pictures on the family group chat, audio books, using my sewing machine for the first time in years.
What have been some of yours?
I truly hope that this week is a good week for you and, if nothing else, that this has helped some to realise that they’re not on their own. Talk to friends and family, be kind and take some time out to look after yourself. With love,