As billions of people are being ordered to stay at home, practice social distancing and abide by self-isolation guidelines in order to reduce the impact of COVID-19, there’s no doubt all of these things can have a huge negative impact on our health and wellbeing. Whilst feelings of anxiety, fear, frustration, boredom and loneliness are a completely normal response to the current unprecedented times, it’s important to take action and think about how we manage these thoughts to prevent them from having a detrimental impact on our day-to-day living, so we can survive and thrive until normality resumes.
Here, Boom Cycle has enlisted the help of James Lamper, a psychologist at Emotion Matters to create 10 strategies you can incorporate into your daily routine, so you can boost your mental health and wellbeing, and stop anxiety and stress from becoming overwhelming.
1. Acknowledge your anxiety and focus on the present moment
When you are feeling anxious or worried, it is important to acknowledge that you feel this way. A great way of letting go of negative thoughts is journaling. Allocate some time during the day when you can write down all your thoughts and feelings. Then put your notebook away and shift your focus and attention to something else.
Expressive writing creates distance between you, and your thoughts and feelings. This can give you an instant feeling of relief and help you gain a fresh perspective to challenge your unhelpful and intrusive thoughts.
2. Stay connected with your loved ones
Maintaining contact with your family and friends is crucial for managing your mental health and staying positive. Even though we are living with social distancing, you can still stay in touch with your loved ones through scheduling regular phone and video calls.
You could plan to have dinner, watch a movie or play games with friends over Zoom, FaceTime, Skype or Houseparty.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or worried, it is important to have someone to reach out to. Expressing your worries with someone you trust can help you feel calm and safe. In turn, this can help you access a more positive mindset where you can rationalise your thoughts.
3. Structure your day
Having a routine in place during the isolation period can help you stay on top of your tasks and feel productive. Before you start your day, set your intention for the day and have something to work towards. If you are struggling to get things done, that is okay. It is important to start small, make small improvements each day and be kind to yourself.
If you are able to work from home, create a dedicated workspace to limit distractions and take regular breaks to stay focused. Sticking with a timetable can help you be more productive, and helps you set a boundary to disconnect from work at the end of your working day.
4. Focus on the basics
If you are struggling with your mental health, it is important to look after your physical health by getting enough sleep, following a balanced diet and staying active to help you regulate stress and hunger and to support your immune system. Try and avoid things that might exacerbate your anxiety, such as smoking and alcohol.
5. Engage in activities you enjoy and learn a new skill
Engaging in fun activities can help you relax, and take your mind off a difficult situation. If you are having extra free time at home, use this as an opportunity to upskill, learn a new language, sign up for an online course or improve your fitness levels by trying out new workouts.
6. Make sure you have access to reliable and accurate information
If you are struggling with anxiety and worry, limit your exposure to news and social media. Use trustworthy resources to stay informed on the current global situation. This will help you keep a realistic view of the crisis, which in turn will allow you to maintain a healthier mindset.
7. Manage nutrition for a healthy body and mind
Nourishing your mind and body with high-quality nutrients can significantly change the way we think and feel, and be a huge benefit for anybody struggling with mental health. Use the isolation period as an opportunity to cook more, learn a new recipe and eat regular meals high in vegetables, good quality protein and healthy fats.
Fuelling your body with the right nutrients will help you feel better, sleep well and have the energy that you need for optimal health and wellbeing.
8. Spend time in nature
According to current government guidelines, we are able to get out once a day for one form of exercise, while maintaining social distancing. Use this as an opportunity to spend some time in nature, such as going for a walk or a run in a nearby park.
Evidence shows that spending as little as 10 minutes a day in nature can enhance feelings of happiness and reduce stress. Plus exposure to the sun can be a great way of topping up your Vitamin D levels to boost your immunity.
9. Practice meditation, mindfulness & breathing techniques
Meditation is a great way to calm your mind, improve your sleep, and stay grounded in the present moment when overwhelming thoughts arise.
There are some great apps you can download for meditation. We particularly love the MEYA App. MEYA’s new ‘Embrace Change’ series contains specific music mind journeys to provide help during this uncertain period, including sleeping help, deep healing and protection meditation, the guided practice of ho’oponopono, an ancient mantra to resolve conflicts, a session on how to transform fear, breathwork to help strengthen the immune system, uplifting positive affirmations and dance meditation for those wanting to be more active. Click to download here.
You could also sign up for an online yoga class or a guided meditation course, go for a mindful walk by observing the nature and sounds around you, or engage in creative activities, such as drawing.
Practice mindfulness techniques regularly, such as deep breathing. When you start to feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, take a 5-second breath in, and slowly let it out. This breathing will help your blood flow and help you feel more relaxed.
10. Keep a gratitude journal
Practicing gratitude will enhance your optimism, and alleviate your anxiety. Research shows that people who regularly practice gratitude have a more positive outlook towards life, and are more resilient in getting through challenging situations. Keeping a gratitude journal will help you value what you have, and focus on the small positive things in life.
Head over to Boom Cycle’s instagram channel where James Lamper, Clinical Director of EmotionMatters has created two IGTV videos, 1) understanding anxiety/breathing techniques to calm your mind and body and 2) challenging anxious thoughts/building resilience to support members of the Boom Cycle community to thrive during isolation. Content is now accessible via: @Boomcycle.