During these uncertain times, it is important to take time to consider the potential impacts on your mental health and arm yourself with the tools you need to manage this effectively.
Just like physical health, your mental health needs to be maintained and cared for, especially during times of stress and change.
It is understandable that many of us will experience some feelings of anxiety surrounding the news of current events, so ensuring we have effective tools to deploy in times of stress to protect our mental health is vital.
Tips for protecting & improving your mental health:
- Keep your curtains open to allow in daylight
- Connect with like-minded people, friends and family whenever you can (digitally if not in person)
- Continue with your regular routine as much as possible
- Avoid over researching, especially from sources that may spread misinformation
- Use positive tools for relieving stress and anxiety such as meditation and breathing exercises
Your mental state is fundamental to your health overall, as how you are feeling inside drives all your other functions.
By maintaining your mental health, you are more likely to maintain the other essential activities such as eating well, exercising, sleep and helping you to avoid other coping mechanisms that can further damage your health.
How to calm anxiety & improve mental health
Draw back the curtains
Daylight and sunshine help you to produce serotonin which is the hormone affecting your mood, sleep and other essential aspects impacting on your mental health.
Having lowered serotonin levels has been linked to causing depressed feelings, thus it is important to ensure you spend time in daylight.
Even if you are spending a lot of time over the coming weeks indoors, make sure you have any curtains or blinds out of the way of any sunlight.
Move your armchair or desk closer to a window so you can benefit from the light shining in. In addition, it is important to consider the quality of air and airflow around your home, so make sure you keep your space well ventilated with fresh air as this is beneficial for your lungs.
Connection is key
Humans are social animals and we thrive off connection with others. Connecting with other people face to face does become harder when there is increased remote work, and advised self-isolation, however there are many ways to connect with people from a distance.
Whether you join an online group such as the OYNB Challengers, FaceTime with friends and family, email your colleagues or start a group chat with your loved ones, try to make sure you are communicating and connecting with others regularly.
It is important to note that if you are feeling as though you are craving connection with someone, that someone else is likely to be feeling the same way. Make sure to check in with your friends and family, and keep an eye out for those who might be feeling lonely.
Continue your routine as much as possible
You may find that your regular routine has been impacted in some way, but where you are able to, try to keep it as close to your usual day as you can.
For example, if you are asked to work from home, try getting up at the same time, get dressed as if you were going into your workplace and make sure that you have a desk set up in a room that is different to where you sleep. This will help to separate your working day, from your home life, and avoid too much of a shock to the system.
Even if you are not required to work from home, but are self-isolating, it is good to continue your daily activities as much as you are able to. You may need to adapt these to be ‘at home’ friendly, such as switching out your usual cycle to work into a home workout.
There has been a surge in the volumes of sources for information on the outbreak of COVID-19, but not all of these sources are publishing credible or reliable information which can cause panic.
Whilst keeping up to date on the latest information released from government is worthwhile, try not to expose yourself to more information on the topic than is necessary.
Taking breaks away from looking at news stories, or social media platforms can help to take your mind off any anxiety-provoking information and avoid reaching a stage of panic.
Positive tools for relieving & helping improve anxiety
One of the best ways that you can improve symptoms that relate to anxiety and reduce stress is to practice meditation and mindfulness techniques.
Learning to silence the mind can help the brain and the body navigate stressful periods during the day, improve your overall mental wellbeing, and alleviate depressive symptoms.
Sitting for a few minutes each day, and quietly focusing on your breathing is sometimes all it takes to meditate. Everyone is different, so it is worthwhile to try several techniques to find which works best for you.
There are a few specific breathing techniques that you can implement such as Square Breathing Technique (or Box Breathing).
- Find a quiet place where you (hopefully) won’t be disturbed for about five minutes.
- Take a comfortable seat where your spine is straight and upright.
- INHALE slowly through the nose to a count of four. (Count silently in your head.)
- HOLD your breath for a count of four.
- EXHALE slowing through the nose to a count of four.
- HOLD your breath for a count of four.
- REPEAT the pattern – INHALE 4, HOLD 4, EXHALE 4, HOLD 4 for about five minutes.
Stop Anxiety by joining a caring community
If you are at all concerned about how to cope with the increased stress and anxiety that may be caused over the coming weeks, OYNB is here for you.
Drinking alcohol is not a beneficial way to deal with negative emotions and can exacerbate these feelings over time in fact there are so many benefits of giving up alcohol.
Instead, join the OYNB community and get the support you need to stay alcohol-free, and find out more about how to relieve stress in more effective and productive ways.