These are indeed strange times. Who could have thought that things would change so dramatically and so quickly.
There is so much uncertainty around with Covid 19 and lockdown that there is an underlying anxiety there all the time.
The underlying stress may be sneaking up on you in terms of lack of sleep, irritability with housemates and others (ooh yes!).
Here are my top 10 tips for having good mental hygiene during lockdown:
1. Have A Routine
There is a lot of external uncertainty in our lives so we need to bring some predictability back into our lives by setting up some type of routine.
Allocate set times for physical activity, work, breaks – and especially if you are living on your own, make an effort to link in with people.
Having a routine and something that you can control will help you to feel more grounded.
During the working week, my day starts with a meditation and some tapping, a quick walk and this is my ‘commute’ as it were, and indicates that it is time to start work.
I’m at my desk by 9 usually and then have agreed times for breaks and lunch.
Lunchtime, I may do another short walk before settling back to the work for the afternoon.
At the end of the day, I also do another walk to help me to get a little headspace.
2. Set Boundaries
You may now be sharing your working space and day with your partner, children etc.
If at all possible, try to set physical boundaries where you are working and set some rules about people disturbing you while you are working.
Not so easy with children but the adults should be able to manage this.
And when work finishes, it finishes…. don’t be tempted to keep checking emails etc.
Also, if you are not used to spending your days together with your partner, you will find that there are more disagreements than usual.
Recognise together that these are strange and stressful times. Talk about it and forgive them and more importantly, forgive yourself.
We are all trying to work through this and get used to the new routines so be honest about what is working in your new working situation and what is not.
It is extremely annoying when you are dug into a piece of work and someone sits down in front of you eating a piece of toast wanting a chat. Really interrupts the flow.
In my own case, my husband and I have now agreed that we will try as much as possible to limit our interaction to lunch, breaks etc.
3. Get Dressed Up!
Even if you are not interfacing with clients/customers, or not meeting anyone, dress as if you are.
I definitely feel different when I am in my work clothes and it puts me into a different frame of mind.
If you choose not to do that, at least choose clothes that make you feel good, be it lucky underpants, your good shirt or whatever floats your boat and raises the vibe.
4. Give Yourself More Headspace
We are certainly living in uncertain times and even if you are not conscious of feeling stressed, there is definitely an underlying anxiety.
Think about how you react if someone walks too close to you or coughs near you. And maybe your temper is a little bit shorter than usual or you’re not sleeping that well.
What this means is that you will need more space and time just doing nothing to allow your head to catch up with everything to make sense of what is going on.
So, more time than usual away from screens, tv, media and taking some time on your own.
5. Recognise That It Is Going To Take You Longer To Do Things
I read somewhere that we are going through a period of grieving for all that we cannot do, and what we have lost.
That makes a certain amount of sense to me because I am definitely more likely to react to things that previously wouldn’t have affected me.
And because there is underlying emotion there all the time – you may find it harder to motivate yourself to do things.
So, make allowances for yourself and give yourself a break for taking longer to do certain things.
6. Do Things That Bring You Joy
There is only so much Netflix, reading etc so it is important to surround yourself with things that will bring you joy – a couple of flowers from the garden, a nice scented candle, Gary Larson cartoon etc.
For me, I have extra fresh flowers within sight of where I work, a scented candle and have also put 2 teddies in the window for children doing their walkabout on their teddybear hunt.
I was dug into some work on the computer and I heard these squeals of delight from 2 very young children – because they had seen TWO teddies in the window.
It made my day!
7. Give Yourself Permission To Feel
It is a very uncertain time, and no one knows how long the restrictions will last. This has all sorts of repercussions for work, finances, having contact or not having contact with family members.
Yes, it is great to focus on the positive but it is completely normal to feel the negative.
So give yourself space to experience these emotions. These feelings will pass.
8. Be Conscious Where You Focus Your Attention
As with your diet, be careful about what you intake and notice the effects it has on you.
We all know what we have to do to take care of ourselves and loves ones but is it helpful to keep checking your phone to get EVERY single update?
And then of course, there is the dreaded WhatsApp group.
You know the alarmist texts that I am talking about.
Get your information from reputable official sources if you need to be kept informed. But before you read anything, ask yourself, is this going to make me feel better or worse?
There is a lot that we can’t control but we can control what we give our attention to.
9. Connect With Others To Share Your Concerns
If it all gets too much, find someone that you can talk to – either an individual or a group.
Be selective and choose a group or person that is going to make you feel better, not someone who is going to drag you down into all of the doomsday scenarios.
Find your tribe and you will probably find that others are feeling exactly the same way you are.
I am running an online stress release group each Wednesday art 7.00pm GMT. To join us, please sign up here
There are loads of apps and meditations available online.
If even logging on to these feels too much, then take time to just breathe and notice yourself breathing in and breathing out.
You could set your timer on your phone a couple of times a day, and pause and take a couple of breaths. Start doing this for a couple of seconds and over the days, you could keep building this up.
It will help to take you out of your head and into your body.
Hopefully, this will help you to maintain positive mental health throughout these uncertain times.
If you have any queries or if you would like help to release stress, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Each Wednesday at 7.00pm Irish time, I am running a FREE online stress release event. To attend, please sign up here