7 tips to improve you mental health during lockdown
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For many people, the pandemic has taken a huge toll on their mental health.
From worrying about the health of family and friends, to job loses, financial hardship and anxieties about the future, it can be an overwhelming time - made worse by the third national lockdown.
Alexandra Birrell, who has an MSc in Mental Health and Psychological therapies, gives 7 tips to improve your well-being and make the next few months a little easier.
Do one activity per day that gives you a sense of relaxation or enjoyment.
Ms Birrell, from Norwich, said: "This should be something that has nothing to do with work, childcare responsibilities or housework – something that is just for you.
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"Go for a brisk walk while listening to music, spend some time writing, drawing or painting, or read a chapter of a book.
"Life is intense right now - we all need time to be able to regularly and intentionally switch off."
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Connect with others.
"Share authentically and be honest about how you’re feeling. You’ll be surprised at how many can relate to the anxiety that naturally goes along with the uncertainty of a pandemic."
Know your survival response.
"When feeling overwhelmed, our bodies have go-to habitual responses.
"Some people get anxious and try to gather as much information as possible, which can easily lead to overwhelm.
"Some go into denial and disconnect from reality, which can be dangerous when there are real threats and risks.
"By becoming aware of how your body responds to stress, you can use moments of overwhelm as a trigger to think about whether there are more helpful ways of coping."
"Do you ever find yourself thinking, 'I should be coping better' or 'stop being ridiculous' when we feel low or anxious?
"We tend to berate ourselves to try and control the way we’re feeling. Unfortunately, this kind of an approach only serves to make us feel worse and adds a layer of suffering on top of an already difficult situation.
"How would you speak to a friend or a family member if they were feeling the way you’re feeling? Often, we would never speak to a loved one the way that we speak to ourselves. Practicing being kind and gentle can go a long way toward self-soothing in moments of difficulty."
Limit, but don’t completely avoid, consumption of news.
"We all need to strike a balance between being informed with the latest information, and not flooding ourselves with anxiety-provoking information and stimuli.
"If you’re locked down with other people in the house, it’s important to recognise that this is not a natural situation and spending this much time with anyone is bound to get on your nerves.
"Schedule in regular time to be alone and fill your own cup."
Keep a journal of positive things that happen throughout your day.
"Keeping a log of moments of connection and the things that make you feel hopeful can help to balance out biased thinking and help us remember what’s important in life."
Alexandra Birrell has an MSc in Mental Health and Psychological therapies and is a trauma sensitive yoga facilitator.
She can be contacted on Instagram: @embodied_empowerment_project