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Mental Health Awareness Week is 18-24th May this year, so we figured it’s a great time to run through some tips that will help alleviate those dark clouds and bring out the sunshine in all of us, especially important with the unusual and different times we are all experiencing currently.

Stress and anxiety are completely natural responses, and it’s valuable to understand that we all experience various degrees from time to time.

Here are some things that we do to keep ourselves on track both emotionally and physically.

Stick to a routine

When you go to work every day, you have to be there at a certain time, go for lunch at a certain time and go home at a certain time and having this structure enables us to be more efficient and get more done. Its important to keep to a structure or timetable whilst at home, to keep you disciplined and focussed when there are a myriad of potential distractions (yes, I’m talking to you Netflix!).

Keeping in mind when your customers are working should give you a good basis to form your timings around, but you can be a little flexible if you are an early bird or a night owl to tap into your peak performance time. Listen to your body and its rhythms and aim to wake up and go to bed at approximately the same time each day.

Sleeping too much or too little can disrupt your mental wellbeing. If you’re having difficulty drifting off at night, do something that uses your imagination, like writing a story or visualising a dream holiday. The imagination is the doorway between conscious and unconscious thought and this should help you feel sleepy. Using your phone and checking emails or what’s happening on Facebook will have the opposite effect, so leave it out of arm’s reach at least 30 minutes before hitting the hay.

Get active

Mental health experts confirm that exercise can elevate your mood and reduce anxiety, so make sure you build exercise into your daily routine too. Sometimes it can be a struggle to get going, but the endorphins that will be released as a result of getting your heart pumping are well known stress-relievers.

An early morning bodyweight workout or a daily walk in your local area is perfect. Make sure you mix it up and change your route each time to keep your interest.

Turn off the news

Constant negative updates will not be doing you any favours. In fact, your brain will just be getting more ammunition to manifest negative thoughts. So limit yourself to catching up with the news just once a day. 

The same goes for your social media – if there are certain people or pages you follow that are causing you anxiety, consider muting them temporarily or deleting them altogether. If things are important, there are other ways you can reach people and be contacted, but make sure you understand the difference between urgent and important, often they get confused! 

Gimme some space man!

It’s likely that since March this year you’ve been spending a lot more time at home and, unless you live alone, in close proximity to others. Whether that’s with your housemates or family members, it’s a good idea to practise considerate household etiquette.

Showing little kindnesses for the people you live with, such as sharing cooking responsibilities or dedicating space for work or ‘alone time’, can help defuse tensions that can sometimes build up. Make a rule that when you are in your work space you shouldn’t be disturbed unless for something urgent. Use headphones and your playlist to block out external noise or listen to podcasts or self-development broadcasts to keep you focussed.

Stay connected with friends and family

Right now it might be tough to visit your family, friends and loved ones, but you’re only ever a video call away from them. Apps like FaceTime, Zoom, WhatsApp and House Party mean you can still have a catch up over a glass of wine, albeit virtually. Ironically, you might even speak more often than you did before!

Knock it up a notch by making it fun. Set up a virtual themed quiz with family, or book a fancy dress virtual party with your friends. Anything you can do to reconnect regularly and get you chuckling will keep your mind positive and healthy.

Share the love

Whether it’s calling to check in on an elderly relative or asking your neighbour if they want anything when you venture out to do your food shop, considering others is not only important but always feels good. 

Being altruistic and contributing to the community not only has a positive impact on others, but has also been shown in numerous studies to increase our own wellbeing, it really is a win-win situation!

And relax

Deep breathing helps you feel connected to your body—it brings your awareness away from the worries in your head and quiets your mind. Even a few rounds can help you calm down when things feel too much. 

Give it a go right now! Breathe in for a slow count of 5, hold for 3, then breathe out for 5. Repeat 5 times and feel the serenity ooze into you! There are many mindfulness apps that promote good mental health and can help with deep breathing and meditations, our favourites are Headspace and Calm.

Things might seem uncertain at times, but these times also give us opportunities to become better versions of ourselves. Learn from what your body and mind are saying and why they are saying it.

Stay safe, stay chilled, we’re always here to support you.

Doug Norman

Author Doug Norman

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