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Community Hub / Health and wellbeing / Parents and carers / Social Inclusion

Staying on track with our mental health

By Jennifer Lumsden, July 17 2020

We are living in unsettling times, the old has gone, and we are not sure what the new will look like. We do know it will be different. We humans prefer routine stability and some predictability in our lives. As we navigate these tough and uncertain times, we need to be proactive in taking care of our mental health and of those dear to us.

Here are a couple of ideas to consider.

1. Watch your thoughts – do you say, “I am anxious, angry or scared?” Instead, try saying to yourself, “I have feelings of anxiety, anger or fear.” What is the difference? The second option acknowledges your feelings and demonstrates you can have control over your emotions. This allows you to be real with how you feel and to think about what you might do about the emotions. You may decide to turn off the news or reduce your social media, go for a walk, dance to Abba, or tinker with a hobby. When we notice our feelings, we open up choices we can make.

2. Make gratitude a habit – get a notebook or use your phone to write down 3-5 things you are grateful for every day. Pay attention to small things like a smile, the smell of baked goods or the sound of a bird singing.

3. Sleep – make it a priority. In times of change and uncertainty, sleep is so important, your brain, heart and body will thank you.

4. Nature – get into nature regularly. Walk at a park or the beach, while keeping distance and notice the sky, trees, leaves and the light, glance at the night sky. Listen to nature music or get an indoor plant.

5. Kindness – Kindness demonstrates strength, not weakness. Showing kindness is good for mental health and connects us with the other person, and be kind to yourself.

6. Volunteer – research shows volunteering is associated with better physical and emotional health and longevity.

7. Write yourself a ‘not to do list’ and feel good about some things being left undone.

8. Recognise others are struggling and be quick to offer compassion and forgiveness.

9. Keep connected with a few people, especially those who are positive and with who you can be yourself. Try online, phone calls, handwritten letters and walks at a safe distance. Try zoom dinners; it’s surprisingly effective.

10. Avoid seeking comfort in alcohol or gambling, when this is over, dealing with the result of unhelpful habits will take up the energy we need for recovery and opportunity.

When you’re having a hard time with the restrictions and not seeing friends and family, try to reframe the situation by saying, “We’re all doing this together for a really good reason. I am part of something bigger than myself and am making a difference. It gives me meaning out of what’s happening,”

Putting one or more of these tips into your daily routine will bring the positivity we all need right now. Remember, this time will end. Stay well now and always!

Taking care of mental health -get in nature

Taking care of mental health – enjoy nature

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