In the last twelve months, the mental health of the entire population has suffered immensely worldwide. Having to deal with the fear of the pandemic, the uncertainty of the economy and the worry and grief caused by COVID-19 has seen a rise in mental health issues across the globe. Many of us have experienced varying stages of anxiety, stress, depression, panic and sadness as we’ve struggled to cope with lockdown life and the effects of the pandemic.
As Lockdown begins to lift in the UK, those mental health issues are not automatically going to go away. We don’t know a single person who hasn’t experienced some kind of mental health or emotional problem linked to the pandemic. The lifting of Lockdown now brings it’s own set of challenges as we struggle to get back to some semblance of normality. Many of us are still fearful and find ourselves anxious at the thought of leaving the house and mixing with people again.
At So Just Be, we care about you and would like to support you as much as we can because at the end of the day, we’re all in this together. We have had a look at some coping mechanisms you can use to help calm your troubled mind as you take your first steps back into the world. We are familiar ourselves with the effects of anxiety, stress and depression so we offer these top tips to you and hope they will be beneficial.
Remember, if you feel you can’t cope or require support, please contact your GP to get the help you need. We are not medical professionals. All we can offer is some advice on what works for us when we’re struggling:-
Get Back to Nature
We don’t know about you but we find that there is something immensely calming about being close to nature. After a day spent in front of the laptop, there’s nothing we enjoy more than getting out in the back garden or going for a stroll around the block. There’s something about the colour green that is inherently soothing; the green of the grass and the leaves on the trees provide us with a great sense of calm and refreshment. It sounds very ‘New-Age’ but being around nature honestly makes us feel happy and content.
If you have access to a back garden or a green area near you then take advantage of it. We’ve all been cooped up for so long that going outside may feel daunting so don’t put pressure on yourself, just go at your own pace. Get outside and soak up some of the Vitamin D that we have been sorely lacking throughout lockdown and the winter months. We promise you that you’ll improve your mood as a result.
We bang on about this ALL THE TIME but getting regular exercise really does do you good, both physically and mentally. We’ve all been stuck at home in our small spaces for so long that our brains need the change in scenery and our bodies are crying out for a bit more varied movement. Exercise helps our brains to produce endorphins which in turn help us to feel good.
Spending more than a couple days inside on the trot, sitting at a desk all day, makes us feel grumpy and irritable. There was a whole week in lockdown where I didn’t go out or do anything other than work upstairs during the day and sit on the sofa downstairs in the evening. By the end of the week, I found myself close to tears at even the slightest thing.
Getting outside for a walk was what I needed so I still try and keep doing that at least 3 times per week. The difference in my mood as a result is something that I really notice. I have more energy, I’m more positive and I feel more relaxed – all with 3 walks per week.
Talk to Someone/Write it Down
When the world gets on top of you and you’re struggling with your emotions, sometimes what you really need is an outlet. You just need to get all the worries and anxieties and fears out of your brain. There are a couple of ways you can do this. Personally, I’ve always struggled to verbalise my feelings as I’m quite a private person. Whenever I feel like everything is just too much, I tend to lean towards writing it all down. It makes me feel so much better to just list everything out on the page. I’ve written it down, it’s out of my head and I can stop thinking about it for a while.
The other way is of course to talk to someone. Whether it be a close friend or a loved one, just have a chat and don’t be afraid to be honest about the way you are feeling. Chances are that they have experienced similar emotions and they can offer you some support and advice.
There’s no shame in admitting that you’re struggling because WE ALL ARE. Sometimes it just takes a little bit of bravery to admit it. Talking to someone will help you feel better and if they are an important person in your life they’re not going to judge you, all they are going to be concerned about is helping you to get through it.
With the easing of Lockdown restrictions, people are starting to get out and about again. Some people will follow the rules to the letter, others will bend it slightly. Regardless, people are going to want to start meeting up with you in person again. It’s time to come out from behind the video screen. Now, getting back to social, face to face interaction again may seem quite dauting for some so it’s important to set some boundaries to help you to feel comfortable and enjoy these interactions with your loved ones.
If you’re worried about safety, be honest. Have a frank, open discussion with the people you want to see about what you feel comfortable with. Let them know that you’re feeling a bit anxious and nervous. If they want to meet you with 4 other people in their small back garden (rule of 6 in the UK at the moment) and you don’t feel comfortable with it then tell them or suggest a different day where you can just meet one on one.
If you’re concerned that the people you want to meet are not taking the rules very seriously then suggest that you host and put your requirements firmly in place. If they don’t like it, they can lump it! It’s important that you feel comfortable and safe around the people you care about.
Also, if it feels like every weekend is starting to fill up with meet-ups and activities, leaving you with no down-time at the weekends, it is okay to say ‘no’. Just because we can see people doesn’t mean that we have to sacrifice all of our free time. Self care matters too! Let’s face it, if you haven’t seen them for five months then a couple more weeks won’t hurt!
If you’re feeling anxious, stressed, depressed and just generally awful then the number one priority in your life right now should be you. One of my favourite sayings is ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’. It’s true. If you feel empty and blue, then how are you going to be any good to anyone else? You need to take care of you.
Do the things that make you happy. Relax with a long, hot bubble bath. Eat your favourite foods. Sing your favourite songs at the top of your lungs. Indulge in your hobbies. Paint your nails. Spend a whole weekend watching your favourite movies. Have a pyjama day. Eat the cake! You do you, the way you need to. Get that self-care time in wherever you can manage it. As the great Ru Paul says, ‘If you can’t love yourself how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?’
Remember, YOU MATTER. Taking a day off from work and chores and interaction isn’t being lazy or antisocial – it’s mental survival. It’s okay to put yourself first. You are worth it.
We hope these mental health tips provide you with some help and hope. Remember, you are not alone. If you feel you can’t cope and you’re struggling then please talk to someone and get the help you need. We’re all human and we’re all struggling right now so please know you’re not alone. Prioritise your mental health, take care of yourself and set those boundaries. Life may be returning to normal but you don’t need to rush, just go at your own pace.