How To Be Good To Yourself For Your Mental Health
The recent crisis has caused disruption to the lives of people all over the world, and the social distancing measures that have been put in place have severely curtailed the liberties that we’re all so used to. For many people, this change has led to increased stress, anxiety, and depression, but for those who were already suffering from a mental health disorder, the current crises and the measures being taken to suppress it are causing additional distress.
It’s likely that, for at least the foreseeable future, we’re all going to have to spend more time in our homes, and with many workers being furloughed and daily routines having fallen by the wayside, more of us will be coping without the usual face-to-face contact that we rely on to keep us positive, connected and social. Unfortunately, we have little option but to adjust to the new normal, so what can we do to make social distancing more bearable?
Prioritizing Mental And Emotional Well-being
More than ever, it’s vital for us to put our mental and emotional health first. Even those who have never experienced a mental health problem before may find that they are suffering symptoms that are causing them distress and that need addressing, while those who are already struggling to cope will need to find new positive coping strategies to avoid falling into patterns of maladaptive coping mechanisms that lead to self-destructive behaviors.
The good news is that there is a lot you can do yourself to boost your positive and show yourself love, even if you’re not able to leave your home due to social distancing measures. Not only will these practices help you to manage your anxiety more effectively, they’ll also help you to stay healthy and ensure your days have more structure.
Being Kind To Yourself – What Does It Mean?
It’s easy to say you should be kind to yourself while social distancing, but what does this actually mean in practice? Essentially, it means that you need to be compassionate to yourself, paying close attention to how you feel, and giving yourself some time to adjust to this new way of living that feels so alien to us at the moment.
Rather than berating yourself for feeling more anxious or miserable than usual, you should stop and check yourself. Many people are feeling this way right now, so it’s normal to experience these emotions and feelings. Give yourself a break, don’t judge yourself too harshly, and look for ways to nurture yourself and make yourself feel better on a day-to-day basis.
Limit Your Screen Time
You can’t fail to have noticed that media these days is entirely taken up with very bad news. Endless TV programs, continuous news reports, and posts on social media leads to a saturation effect that can put you into a powerless and panicked mindset. Sometimes, you just need to take a break to reduce your stress and to give yourself some room to think more positively. Put some time limits on your media exposure to help keep you from feeling overwhelmed by all the bad news. If necessary, set your phone time and as soon as it sounds, walk away and do another activity – preferably one that makes you feel upbeat, relaxed or calm.
Create A Routine For Every Day
One of the biggest problems that we’re facing during social distancing and self-isolation is the amount of change we’re experiencing in our daily routines. Now that many of us aren’t going out to work, to the gym, or to see friends and loved ones, our regular patterns of behavior are all up in the air. With nothing left to do but stay at home and watch TV or sleep, it can be difficult to maintain a sense of purpose. Without structure in your day, it can be all-too-easy to fall into a negative pattern of behavior – sleeping badly, eating unhealthily, taking no exercise, drinking too much alcohol, and smoking too much. Therefore, creating and sticking to a routine is imperative.
When you establish a routine for each day, you have more purpose in your life, and it makes each day feel a little more normal. It will also help to prevent you from dwelling on the situation and all the worries and fears that crowd your head.
Try scheduling your meals, your work and some exercise for specific times of the day and this will give you more balance to your life. You should also make sure to put bedtime and morning routines in place so you get quality sleep – something that you really need to maintain good mental health.
Practice Deep Breathing And Meditation
Stress and panic won’t help you in this crisis and could make you much worse. Poor mental health can lead to lowered immunity, so you could become more susceptible to illness. One effective strategy to employ to reduce anxiety and stress is to begin practicing meditation and deep breathing techniques. Just take some time out to sit in a quiet place and focus on your breathing. When you’ve grounded yourself, even for just a few minutes, you’ll feel more relaxed and calm. You may also find that using essential oils for aromatherapy while you’re mindfully breathing will give you a mood lift too.
Stay Active While Social Distancing
Just because you’re social distancing you don’t have to just sit about watching TV all day long. If you can be active for half an hour each day, your endorphins will start flowing and you’ll have more energy.
If you’re permitted to leave the house in your area, you can go outside for a walk, jog or bike ride. However, even if you have to stay inside your home, there are still ways to stay active in your front room. Yoga and pilates are just two forms of exercise that you can easily do in your living room, while many workout videos have been released on YouTube to give you new and exciting ways to get fit and physical. From dance workouts to HIIT routines, you can try something new every day to keep your mind and body busy, to make you feel more positive, and to help you stay healthy even in lockdown.
Many people who struggle with mental health disorders find that journaling helps to relieve some of the anxiety and stress that they experience on a daily basis. While we’re experiencing these current social distancing measures, it can be very easy to look at the experience negatively. However, if you try to focus on the positive things instead, you can change your mindset and reduce those negative emotions. If you’ve never journaled before, this could be a great time to begin writing down your thoughts and feelings through the day, and to focus on the things that you feel good about and grateful for. The more you try to narrow your experience down to the things you feel happy about – and it could be something as small as the sun shining or your favorite song playing on the radio – the more upbeat you’ll begin to feel.
Focus On Self-Growth
It can be tempting to look at this period of social distancing as keeping you from being productive in your life. When you can’t go to your usual classes, your job, your gym, or participate in your typical activities that make you feel as though you’ve achieving something, it’s only normal to feel as if you’re in stagnation. However, look at things differently. This free time on your hands gives you plenty of opportunities for self-growth. Maybe you’ve always wanted the time to read the classics. Or maybe you’ve always been interested in learning a foreign language but never seemed to get around to it. There’s no time like the present. There are lots of online courses that you could take that would actually award you with qualifications that could help you with your career after lockdown, while there are also many more that will just help you to enjoy yourself and to improve yourself.
Boost Your Immune System
Although it’s impossible to protect yourself completely from getting sick with anything, there are things you can do to boost your immune system and improve your overall health and well-being. Make sure that you get plenty of quality sleep every night and plan a healthy balanced diet packed with whole foods, vitamins and minerals to buoy up your immunity.
Social Distancing Doesn’t Mean Being Alone
Although you may have to stay socially distant from friends and family, that doesn’t mean you have to be on your own all the time. Even if you can’t physically be close to your loved ones, you can be with them virtually thanks to the power of the internet and telephones.
Messaging apps and virtual conference calls can help you to stay connected with your parents, grandparents, siblings, colleagues and companions. It’s amazing what people are doing virtually these days. From virtual discos and dates to online quizzes, party games and dinner parties, there are lots of great ways to keep yourself from feeling lonely.
Plan activities like these into your life on a regular basis so that you can have something positive to look forward to throughout the week.
Look After Your Hygiene
When you’re going nowhere and seeing nobody, it can be tempting to simply let your personal hygiene slide. However, if you find that you’re not showering, getting dressed, washing your hair or changing your clothes regularly, it’s time to get back into a proper routine. Although it may seem pointless to get ready for the day when you’re not going out, something as simple as brushing your hair, putting on makeup or putting on a nice outfit instead of sweatpants or pajamas can make you feel like your best self again. In fact, this could be the perfect time to pamper yourself. Give yourself a manicure, indulge in a bubble bath, or try a new skincare regime. It’ll boost your self-esteem and help to put you in a more positive frame of mind.
Care For Your Living Space
Just like your own personal hygiene, if your home becomes dirty and untidy it can seriously impact on your mental well-being. It may feel easy to allow clutter and mess to build up – after all, nobody will be coming round for dinner for a while – but it can negatively effect your mindset. A cluttered home leads to a cluttered mind. So, try to keep your home clean and tidy as much as possible. Wash all of the dishes before you go to bed so you don’t have to face a pile of tableware and cutlery when you get up in the morning. Tidy up the living room before you switch the light off at night, and take the time to make your bed each morning. These are little things, but they can really help you to feel more upbeat. You may even want to take this opportunity to give your home and thorough deep clean from top to bottom. It’ll take your mind off what’s happening in the world and in your mind, and you’ll enjoy the benefits for weeks to come.
Talk Kindly To Yourself
Being kind to yourself needn’t be difficult, but it all begins by talking kindly to yourself. All-too-often, we treat others more respectfully and compassionately than we treat ourselves.
We say things to ourselves that we would never dream of saying to a friend, or even a stranger. Times are tough enough at the moment without listening to your internal critic telling you that you’re a failure. Begin consciously trying to speak to yourself more kindly. Imagine you were talking to a loved one and helping them through this crisis. Offer some reassurance and positive affirmations.
Soothe yourself by doing things that make you feel good. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Remember that you aren’t alone in this – most of us are feeling anxious, uncertain and stressed at this time.
Acknowledge how you feel, but then allow that feeling to pass, treating yourself in the same way as you’d treat a family member or close friend who is struggling with social distancing. You will get through this, and if you follow this advice, you will get through it stronger and more resilient than before.