TAKING CARE OF YOUR MENTAL HEALTH IN 2021
As we begin to navigate the new year, we're working to focus on looking after our mental health and wellness more than ever before. We caught up with our Digital Marketing Manager, Sophie - also a trained mental health first aider, to bring you her top tips for looking after your mental health this year.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF...
The first lockdown came as we were on our way into spring, which meant more daylight and better weather. Waking up in dark mornings, seeing little daylight due to working hours, and finding the motivation to go out in the cold are all challenges making this winter lockdown even more difficult to navigate. If you're finding things harder this time around, be kind to yourself - we are still experiencing extremely unusual and uncertain times and your feelings are completely valid.
SET YOURSELF A ROUTINE, AND ADAPT IT TO THE SEASON...
As creatures of habit, we tend to enjoy having certain rituals we stick to on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. By waking up at a similar time each day, to faux commuting by getting out for an evening walk, this routine can help us feel more settled in an uncertain time. You may well have a lockdown routine in place by now, but it’s also important that you adapt it for winter. From switching up your exercise regime to finding new winter recipes, this change can help you feel more refreshed when we aren’t sure how long this lockdown will last for.
Let’s face it, Zooming your friends isn’t as fun as the real thing. Accidentally talking over each other and internet issues can make what was a fun experience turn into a chore, but connecting with people is still an essential part of looking after ourselves. Find a way that works for you, from a phone call to voice notes, to even old fashioned letter writing, there’s lots of ways to hear from your loved ones. Most importantly, be open with how you’re feeling. Talking through our emotions can help us process what might be triggering negative feelings and find key coping strategies.
SET SHORT TERM GOALS
None of us know what the next few months will look like, so take it one day at a time, setting yourself smaller goals which are achievable for that day or week. When I think back to January 2020 and the plans I had for the year ahead, I barely achieved any of them. But the goalposts changed on us, so instead of thinking about all the things I didn’t do, I started to celebrate the little wins; showing my dad how Netflix works from 150 miles away, finding out that I really really like walking, growing closer to my team while we navigate this storm together, and discovering new corners of my hometown I never knew existed.
BE MINDFUL OF WHAT YOU FOCUS YOUR ATTENTION ON
One word I’ve seen pop up a lot over the last couple of months is ‘doom scrolling’. It essentially means mindlessly flicking through negative news articles. Instead, try to set a time limit on how much news you absorb each day, and plan something else to read in it’s place so you don’t find yourself lured back in. Stick to the facts and only read the news which you find helpful. If you find you feel overwhelmed, try switching off from not only the traditional news channels but also social media, as you can’t always help what news stories other people are sharing which find their way to your own feed.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR PHYSICAL HEALTH AND GO OUTSIDE AT LEAST ONCE A DAY
Our mental and physical health are connected, and eating a balanced diet, getting the right sleep and moving once a day can all have a huge impact on our mental wellbeing. When writing your routine, build exercise into it if possible, and find an activity that works for you. This can be anything from a lunchtime walk to morning yoga. Getting outside into nature and also getting as much natural light as possible can also have a big effect on your mood, including feeling less claustrophobic and feeling connected to the outside world.
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