29 May 10 tips to manage your mental health during COVID-19
As I write this blog, I’m on day… who knows?!… of social distancing. Some days feel like I’ve been at this for a lot longer than others. It is a challenging time and not easy to make sense of the current environment given the unknowns about what happens next. So if you aren’t feeling quite like yourself lately, that’s ok – you are not alone! It’s natural to feel like you are on a roller coaster right now and you may find you are experiencing ebbs and flows of emotions as you navigate your new reality. Whether you are more irritable, have high anxiety or are embracing the less hectic lifestyle and increased time at home, there is no right or wrong way to feel, and it’s important to recognize that it could change weekly, daily or even hourly.
At this time, we need to manage our stress more than ever. We need to stay healthy and keep our cortisol levels in check. One way to do that is by controlling our thoughts, which control our reactions (physically, mentally and emotionally) and our reactions control our stress responses. If you find yourself being overwhelmed with stress and anxiety, ask yourself the question, ‘what is in and out of my control?’.
You may not always have control over your circumstances, but you do have control over your mind. Even if you are feeling calm, be mindful that stress is powerful and it can creep up at any time. Let’s all do a little bit of self care during this time of unknowns. It’s important to take care of yourself so you are better able to help others. Remember, you need to put your own mask on first.
In taking care of yourself, reflect on what you need at this time to be your optimal self, physically and mentally. Keep in mind that what you need during this time may be totally different from the needs of your friends and family. Tune out any negative noise and keep checking in with yourself.
To help you keep your spirits high and your mental and physical health intact, I am sharing with you my top 10 tips for managing your mental health.
- Breathe. Understand that your breath can take you away from your conscious mind. It can also bring down physiological symptoms from stress. Acknowledge your feelings and breath. If you need guidance, there are some great apps to help you out such as Headspace, Calm and Mindshift.
- Achieve. Wake up and make your bed. This is an achievable goal to start your day and when you go in for bed time you will feel a sense of accomplishment.
- Self-care. Drink a glass of water and then do 20 minutes of movement as soon as you get up. It can be yoga, a walk with your kids, a hard core HITT workout – whatever keeps you consistent in starting your day off well. You can also write your daily intentions and take a moment to breath/mediate after.
- Stay connected. FaceTime or Zoom with family and friends. Just because you need to keep your physical distance, it doesn’t mean you need to avoid contact with loved ones. In this age of technology, you need to use it to your advantage during these uncertain times to maintain social connections in a different way.
- Journal. Write about your experiences in self-isolation. Tip: start with something you are grateful for that day.
- Be kind and compassionate. Start with yourself and then others. If you are a parent and trying to work from home with your kids, please don’t expect miracles. Some days will be A+ while others will be disasters and that’s ok! If you are a performer, know that this too shall pass; be in the moment, stay centred and try not to compare yourself with others.
- Choose what you read. Navigate the news and social media. What makes you feel good and what makes you worry? I call someone I trust each day, who I know is staying well informed (from a proper source), and ask them to tell me the ‘must know’ updates. I also try not to read the news before bed.
- Find a purpose. Vitor Franki wrote, “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, only by lack of meaning and purpose.” I believe we still need to hold on to a purpose during these times. When we feel a purpose, we feel happy. So what is your purpose during this time? It can be big or small. It may be helping support your family and keeping them safe, creating awareness within communities, or helping feed people you have never met.
- Your thoughts are your own. You are in control of your conscious thoughts – choose well and choose optimism (especially first thing in the morning).
- Check list vs Schedule. Are you a person who needs to wake up with a schedule and follow protocol on a daily basis? Or are you the person who likes to go through their day less organized? You will run, eat, socialize when I feel like it? Do you accomplish things with a check list but do it on your own time. Try to understand this about yourself and perhaps it will help you navigate the days with a little more ease.
Be Kind. Be Bold. Be Brave.