How to protect your mental health in lockdown

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Susan, founder of Lichfield based company The Wellbeing and Wellness Coach explains how you can take proactive steps to manage your mental health during the second lockdown.

There is no doubt that 2020 has been a challenging year with the emergence of Covid-19. As we move into the second wave of the pandemic and we enter another national lockdown, it is now more important than ever to take proactive steps to protect our mental health. See our tips for protecting your mental and emotional wellness during the second lockdown below.

  • Eat well and exercise

While some people reported how they used the first lockdown to get fit, most people reported they exercised less and increased their junk food and alcohol intake. While I’m not one to criticise a takeaway and a bottle of wine, the reality is, if you sink a bottle of wine each night and have three pizzas a week, your body and your mind is not going to be functioning at its best. Our minds need a range of nutrients to be able to function well.

Exercise is also a great mood booster and you don’t have to be doing an intensive 6am HIIT session every day. Even light, regular exercise such as walking will make a difference. I love yoga and find there are huge benefits for mental health!

  • Get as much natural light as possible

If you are not self-isolating and you’re able to get outside every day then definitely do this! Natural light can provide a lot of benefits to our mental health. It boosts vitamin D, can help to regulate our mood and improves sleep quality.

  • Stay connected

Staying connected to others is more important than ever. If you’re able to form a support bubble, then absolutely do it. If not, take advantage of technology to keep in touch with friends and family. Let’s be frank, connecting virtually doesn’t compare to seeing people we care about face to face. Despite this, continuing to connect with people who are important to us is great for our mental health – even if it is virtually or by phone!

  • Create a dedicated place and routine for work

It’s so easy when we’re staying at home and perhaps not doing the daily commute, to start letting our work routines slide. We might stay in bed longer, go to bed later, not get dressed when we get up and even curl up with the laptop while we work in bed. I’m not saying that you can never have a lie in and have to wear a suit while working from home but retaining healthy routines like getting up and getting dressed for work will help your mindset and help to protect your mental health.

Retaining a start and finish time for work and having a dedicated place in the house for work will help. If your workspace happens to be in a communal area of your home such as the kitchen or dining room, then make sure you put your laptop and documents away at night to help create a psychological line between home and work.

  • Practice self-care and do things you enjoy

Practising self-care and doing things you enjoy is crucial to good mental health. Self-care means different things to different people. For some, it can mean ensuring they eat well or go for a run, for others it can be remembering to take medication or even taking time for a bubble bath and face mask. Perhaps for you it’s even something different again?! Whatever it is for you, prioritise time for this and don’t compromise. Also, take time to do things you enjoy whether this is watching your favourite TV show, reading a book or going walking or cycling.

  • Address financial concerns

Many people are experiencing financial difficulties as a result of the pandemic. While it can feel frightening and overwhelming to address financial concerns, the reality is they are not going to go away on their own. Everyone’s situation will be different. While some may just need to plan and stick to a tighter budget for a period of time, others may need more intensive help and support. There are lots of organisations that can provide support including local food banks and the National Debtline.

National Debtline – https://www.nationaldebtline.org/

  • Go easy on yourself

We’re living through a global pandemic that has directly impacted all of us in some way. It’s ok to feel upset, angry, lonely, overwhelmed, perhaps even frightened and a whole host of other emotions. Challenging emotions are likely to arise for most of us and that’s completely ok. Sometimes you need to let yourself feel whatever emotion arises so you can process it, accept the situation we’re in and move forward. If there are some days that you just feel like curling up on the sofa with chocolate and a series on Netflix then give yourself permission to do it… just perhaps not every day!

If you want to develop healthier habits to protect your mental health, The Wellbeing and Wellness Coach can provide one to one coaching to support you in achieving this.

If you’d like to access online yoga during lockdown, friendly group sessions are held every Tuesday and Thursday evening. Find out more at www.wellbeingandwellness.co.uk