The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that between 35% and 50% of people with severe mental health problems in developed countries, and 76 – 85% in developing countries, receive no treatment.
During the span of our lifetimes many of us will battle with Depression and Mental Health. In the past few weeks the COVID19 pandemic has made a huge impact, claiming many lives and changing our day to day on a micro and macro level. With many of us now being in lockdown this could further affect our mental wellbeing, so in this article we will be sharing 6 tips on how to put your mental well-being first during these challenging times.
Stay Connected, avoiding mental isolation
According to the National Institute of Health, a substantial body of research suggests that receiving social support alleviates the negative emotional impact of stressful experiences. Due to the COVID19 pandemic we are currently unable to visit family and friends so, during lockdown, it is imperative to stay connected with loved ones, friends and work colleagues. Loneliness can have a terrible impact on your mental wellbeing and we would recommend video calling apps like WhatsApp, Facetime or Zoom. Although we are all in isolation you can still socialise using online apps such as Kahoot as well as playing online games with friends and family.
Work – If you are used to working in an office environment, take some time during the work day to catch up with your line manager and team, we would recommend calling first thing in the morning or at the end of the day as well as weekly company calls. This is also a good time to collaborate with other teams within the business too.
Kindness Matters – Reframing self-talk and how we talk to others
With changes to daily routines, stressors can trigger an array of negative thoughts during this time and now more than ever it’s important to be kind to yourself and others. Negative thoughts and self-talk like “I can’t do this” or “I feel out of control” can reinforce pessimist trails of thought. The good news is there are ways of reversing such effects to make our internal and external monologues so the thoughts are less catastrophic. Countless doctors including Dr. Pashby recommends taking 4-5 deep breaths and re-framing these thoughts “I’m feeling very anxious about what is going on around me, but [insert positive ie I am taking precautions by X,Y,Z”
Another handy tip we recommend through personal experience is keeping a journal. It is a helpful way identify negative thoughts – by putting pen to paper (or using your keyboard and screen) you can reframe negative thoughts into positivity through small, actionable steps.
Philippa Perry author of How to Stay Sane (The School of Life) advises to “Note the head chatter, expect it and do not let it put you off. We need to point ourselves in the direction of good news. Start a habit of looking at the positives in any situation, however dire. It will feel phoney at first. Often new behaviours feel false because they are unfamiliar; but an optimistic outlook is no more false than always assuming nothing good will ever happen” (2012:79)
This leads us on to our next key piece of advice.
Be Mindful of Social Media
Within the past two decades there has been a huge increase in our usage of technology and our consumption of social media, news and online apps. Technology can have both positive and detrimental effects to our mental health. In this day and age there are so many forms of different media flooding our newsfeed, before you know it you have spent hours online reading about the latest COVID19 story, diets and new fads. If you are feeling overwhelmed we recommend:
Sourcing information from reputable websites as well as NHS and websites that are focussing solely on COVID19 research and developments, there are a lot of unreliable online sources that are releasing sensationalised news articles
Unfollowing accounts on social media that are releasing sensationalised stories or content that are having negative affects on your well being
Taking a break from social media – prior to the COVID19 outbreak it was normal for our phones to be within close proximity, ready to be picked up as soon as a notification pops up on our screen. Reducing the amount of time we spend on our phones will help
There are a number of good online apps that are particularly helpful, that promote Mental Health and Wellbeing such as:
Heathy Body, Healthy Mind
Our physical and mental health should be of utmost importance whilst navigating through this uncertain time.
An Article by Science Daily, has found that poor mental health is sometimes linked to poor diet quality. Scientific research suggests that what you eat can effect your mood and energy levels, increases in sugary foods and caffeine can increase lethargy and alter your emotions. Making a slight change to your diet can stabilise your blood sugar and make you feel more emotionally uplifted and energetic. It is a great time to try out new and simple dishes in the Kitchen with so many online recipes readily available.
Recent guidelines from both the NHS and the Government have advised we should be partaking in daily exercise daily.
Charities like the Mental Health Organisation have also released initiatives like Take Action, Get Active 2020 taking just as little as 30 minutes a day to be more active these are some tips directly from their webpage:
HIIT, Pilates, Yoga – whatever exercise floats your boat that day.
Walking – it's great to try and get some fresh air everyday so why not incorporate this into your day?
Baking – get your sweat on in the kitchen by cooking up a storm.
Gardening – this can be a great workout too!
Additionally are also a range of online fitness classes to chose from, whilst most companies might charge you, there are some really good classes for free on YouTube.
Utilising Time – Hobbies, Courses, Personal Projects
The COVID19 pandemic has impacted us in different ways, working from home means that you may have a few extra hours (like an hour that would have been used for your daily commute) and we would advise making use of your newfound extra time productively:
Finish a project you have been putting off for some time
Learn a new skill: crocheting, playing an instrument, baking
Home Improvements / Spring Clear outs
Starting a new online course
Re-igniting past time hobbies: reading, puzzles, board games
Practicing Gratitude & Charity Work – Getting involved
Focusing on the positives during a stressful time is another great way to manage mental health, trying to focus on some of the little things we are grateful for. Helping ourselves but also helping others by getting involved in Charity or a Cause.
Mental Health Organisation Take Action Get Active 2020
NHS Volunteer Army