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7 Tips for Mental Wellbeing (Life Lessons from Lockdown)

signs saying "don't give up" and "you matter"
 

I have finally returned to my blog – it’s been a while.

I’m sure most of us had a tough time during the pandemic and several lockdowns, and when your blog is themed around travel and trying different vegan foods, it becomes quite impossible to write content when you are confined to your home.

Also, my mental health took a nosedive. So, I took some time for myself. At first to cry and despair, but then I did research, talking to others and found some ways to cope. And I’ll share those with you now. Whether going through another lockdown or your own personal hell, hopefully these tips will be of some help.

Interested in mental health? Check out my travel anxiety post with Ronnie Cane

People warming up for running

1. Get active for mental wellbeing

I know the last thing you may want to do when you’re feeling down is move, my default coping skill, is to hide in my bed. But trust me, movement can help.

You don’t have to throw yourself into weightlifting or full on cardio if you don’t want to. Start by just taking a walk outside or even turning on your favourite tunes and dancing around the house. Some nice yoga stretches are always nice, maybe contact someone and see if they’ll go for a walk with you (this’ll also help you stick to it if someone else is involved).

The hardest part of moving or exercise is starting it, but once you’ve done it the endorphins or the calmness will really help you feel better and it’s an excellent way to get rid of the negative energy.

2. Calm your anxiety

 

Another thing that came from my lockdown experience is learning to let go of what you can’t control. A problem I had before the pandemic, it became especially bad after coronavirus had its hold on the whole planet. Obviously I, myself, can not do anything to stop what’s happening and most of what happens in my life cannot be predicted. I needed to accept that.

The starting point is deciding to let go. 

Next, calm your mind. The best way for me is meditation. I use Calm and it’s been a lifesaver. Feeling anxious, there are some short talks to ease you, can’t sleep? Check out the vast amount of sleep stories. 

I also found this https://www.tree.fm/. Forests are my happy places, so listening to the atmospheric sounds are heaven.

Another handy tip; have a little notepad and pen by your bed. In the evening, before you sleep, write down what’s worrying you. This will help you get down your thoughts and let your mind rest, as you can look at these again the next day. Set it and forget it.

In the morning, you could also write down 3 things you are grateful for to help turn your perspective around.

Having a calmer find will empower you against worry and negative thoughts, you’ll be better equipped to recognise triggers and let go of those negative thoughts, giving you better mental wellbeing.

Check out this article on mindfulness meditation by lifehack.org.

 

3. Connect for mental wellbeing

One of the best things about living in the time we do now is that there are so many ways we can reach out and connect with other people. Whether digitally, through digital means or even, gasp, in real life.

If you’re feeling down, anxious, depressed, it’s hard, but I highly recommend you reach out  to someone you trust. It’s scary and daunting, but if they truly care for you, they will understand and support you.

It’s a great relief to talk to someone about how you’ve been feeling, you’ll release some of that tension that built up inside you. I reached out to someone about my depression and found out that they too had been on anti-depressants for several years and also felt too embarrassed to talk about it. 

This was both wonderful and heartbreaking. On one hand I had found someone else in the same boat without realising, but this experience also highlighted the fact that mental health and mental wellbeing are still seen as a secret shame and needs to be talked about much, MUCH more.

Volunteers cleaning up a beach

4. Give to others

 

A great way to meet other people, get out of the house and make a difference in the world. There are many people and causes in the world who need aid, and going out of your way to help someone else is one of the most satisfying things you can do. 

Some suggestions could be spending time with an elderly person who lives alone, collecting food to give to a food bank, or people in need. Even taking part in a fundraiser is a lovely thing to do. You’ll feel better about yourself knowing you’re making a positive difference and people get the support they need – everyone wins!

 
image showing a painting, flowers and tools

5. Keep learning

You may have heard that during the height of the pandemic when people were stuck in their homes that sourdough kit sales had skyrocketed. People were taking to cooking and baking to do something with their extra time and trying to improve themselves.

Now this is not to say you had to write the next best-selling novel, no-one should pressure themselves into having to master a new skill, but it is a productive way to distract your mind and get something out of it.

Like the exercise tip, you could just draw some doodle every day or even try to finally put together that cookbook you’ve always dreamed about. I myself took up learning Spanish. Some days are more productive than others, but that’s ok. If you’re not enjoying it any more, don’t force it, it’s probably not for you. Try something else. But know it’s also OK to not do anything for a little while. 

If you push something, you’ll find it harder to go back to it and make yourself feel bad about not continuing it. Instead, just experiment when you want and drop something if you don’t like it any more, at least you tried it. Schedule in an hour or two here and there when you think it will work for you

woman touching her face smiling

6. Mindfulness / Take pleasure in the little things

Maskne, was an issue for me during the lockdown. With wearing these face coverings and the extra everyday stresses, my skin was looking rough. This was when I decided to take extra care and research with my skin care routine and make it a nice, mindful ritual I did for myself every day. Skin care is self-care.

This approach of taking a step back and really appreciating, or just noticing, the little things we do can make you think about it all differently. Perhaps even make some beneficial changes. 

Instead of just going through the motions, notice what you do, how and why. When walking to the shop, perhaps look around you more, see if you can spot things you never saw before. When drinking a cup of tea, really focus on the flavours and how it makes you feel. This will open up your appreciation of life and maybe help you make positive changes.

two people in a therapy room

7. Talk to a professional

If none of the above helps, or you’re feeling totally alone and everything seems too hard, please seek out professional help.

Again, it’s hard and bloody scary, you’ll go through a lot of emotions, and it will exhaust you. I’ve had cognitive therapy and most recently behavioural activation therapy. Both have helped me in different ways, and I have learned lots of coping techniques that I hope to pass on to others.

Therapy is not admitting defeat and doesn’t mean you’re weak. It means you want to better yourself and will fight to do it. Which makes you brave and strong.

Check out the below links for more information:

Mind: Support and Services 

NHS: Every Mind Matters

Time-to-change.org.uk: help-and-support

mentalhealth.org.uk/getting-help

Do you have any suggestions? 

If you have any mental wellbeing tips or experiences, please do share them below, and hopefully we can help each other out.

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