25th June 2020
“Unprecedented times” – that seems to be the most popular term used in 2020 so far.
Whatever our experience, many people around us are anxious and stressed. Whether it’s about social distancing, the economy, caring responsibilities, home schooling, health fears for themselves and others, finances – the list feels endless.
And whilst there are many things that employers can and are doing to alleviate some of those pressures, encouraging people to look after themselves is a vital ingredient in helping and maintaining good mental health at this time.
Here’s some tips to share on helping us be happier and ultimately better able to cope.
Do something that makes you smile for at least an hour each day.
Taking some time each day to do things that you enjoy is fabulous for your emotional wellbeing. Simple activities – that don’t cost the earth – but make you smile and feel good, release the important ‘happiness hormones’ including dopamine and serotonin. Amongst other important reasons, experiencing moments of happiness boosts our physical health, our energy and motivation and our resilience.
Be proud of who you are and be kind to yourself
Everyone is different and everyone’s achievements are different.
Albert Einstein wrote, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. The question I have for you at this point of our journey together is, “What is your genius?”
Recognising our strengths and celebrating our accomplishments – no matter how small – is paramount to self-esteem, positive energy and drive.
And when things go wrong…. Its important to forgive yourself. We all mess up. There is nothing that we can do about yesterday, but we can do something about tomorrow. And when you hear your inner voice being less than supportive, try to think what a friend would say – and you’ll be amazed how different the message is.
Be mindful of how lifestyle choices influence your mood and energy levels.
It’s important to understand the impact of our lifestyle choices has such as excessive drinking, poor diet and lack of sleep.
When times are hard, it's tempting to drink alcohol to "numb" or block out the pain. But it can exaggerate some feelings, make you feel angry or aggressive and can also make you feel more depressed. It can also lead to poor quality sleep. On average, an adult requires between 7 to 8 hours of good quality sleep for their body and mind to be fully rest. What is keeping you awake? Making healthy choices about your diet is also important, not only for your physiological wellbeing, but also it makes your brain work better too. And finally, being physically active - even moderate exercise - releases chemicals in your brain that lift your mood, gives you more energy and keep your heart healthy. If you can, adults should aim for 2.5 hours of exercise a week.
If you have a lot of stress in your life, find ways to reduce it. What stressors do you have control over, and you can actively remove from your life? For the things that you can’t remove, what positive coping mechanisms can you introduce such as organising your priorities in a list, sharing your concerns with a colleague or friend or just taking some time for yourself to exercise or relax and wind-down? If you have feelings of anxiety along with your stress, breathing techniques and mindfulness can help.
Spend time with people that make you laugh, cry, think and feel.
Positive and genuine relationships are an essential ingredient to our mental health and emotional wellbeing. Spending time with people you care about – that stimulate your emotions – again helps ‘happy hormones’ to be produced. But time for talking and sharing with friends and colleagues also helps release tension, resolve problems, inspire and motivate us. Strengthening relationships and connecting people is key to healthy minds.
Being generous with your time can also be very rewarding. Too often we allow life to pass us by and not give our time to people that need us. Making time for people helps with our sense of purpose, sense of belonging and most importantly helping someone else’s mental and emotional wellbeing.
Strive to make every day a school day.
Learning has been shown to improve and maintain our positive well-being. It can boost self-confidence and self-esteem and help us build a sense of purpose. Learning doesn’t necessarily need to be a college course or work-related training, there are lots of different ways to bring learning into your life like learning to cook something new, develop your DIY skills or exploring new hobbies like painting, writing or a new sport.
Build your resilience
Resilience is what allows you to cope with life's ups and downs. Accepting the past and focusing on the future can make something worthwhile out of painful times. Gratitude is also important as it builds our emotional resilience by helping us to see the positive things in life. Simple practices like maintaining a gratitude journal, complimenting ourselves, or even sending small tokens and thank you notes can make us feel a lot better and enhance our mood immediately. Finally, learning and sharing our experiences can not only help resolve issues but also support us build mechanisms which may help us cope better with future challenges.
“Life is a sum of all your choices. So, what are you doing today?” Albert Camus.