If you’re struggling right now with your mental health, we understand. We’re right there with you and we want you to know you’re not alone!
Your body and mind is in a strange place right now where there’s lots of perceived threats from the pandemic. There’s a lot of information coming our way daily. Our fight or flight responses are kicking in and quite frankly we’re in a permanent state of high stress. It’s totally OK to be exhausted or to feel a bit all over the shop now. This is natural. I can pretty much guarantee that even the people who look like they’ve got their lives together (damn you social media!) will be having down days from time to time too. We’re human. It happens.
So please go easy on yourself. If you need a few days in bed, that’s cool. If you aren’t becoming fluent in spanish or making Bake Off standard banana bread, that’s fine! We’re all trying to get through this a day at a time. Heck, this week I’ve had a full bar of vegan chocolate for breakfast. Twice. I don’t even like chocolate!!!
But here we are, just doing little things in our day to get by. This is a super strange time for everyone so here’s your reminder: go easy on yourself. You’re doing ace. Genuine.
With that in mind here’s a few things people have shared with us or we’ve tried out ourselves that have been helpful. You may find them useful too!
What does self-care look like for you? The definition of self care is: “The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.”
So without sounding like a Live, Laugh, Love poster (title of my next blog post)- do more of what makes you happy! And if you can’t do that stuff right now find other smaller, more manageable things to do. My coping techniques generally are going swimming and going to gigs with my friends. During lockdown I can’t do those things so instead I’m finding ways around it. I’m chatting to my mates every day on zoom, I’m watching bands’ live sets on YouTube and pretending I’m at a gig. I’m exercising at home! It’s not swimming but it’s something!
If you have a hobby or interest that helps your mental health JUST DO IT. Or find ways to do it (or something similar) that work for you now.
Sometimes even these things can feel overwhelming, so I’ll make my self care more simple. I’ll make sure I’m drinking enough water every day, or go to bed super early and just rest up. Even just making sure I’m opening my curtains and cracking a window open to get some fresh air is helpful! It’s just the little things sometimes right?!
Try and employ a mental filter so that you’re “filtering in” positive thoughts and information too, not just the bad stuff. Think about the 3:1 positive ratio method (for every one negative thought counteract it with three positive. Eg. “I’m really stressed about being in lockdown. So today I’m going to make sure I have a really nice bath, I’m going to call my friends for a chat, oh look at this awesome picture of a cat wearing a bow tie!”) 3 positives for every 1 negative!
Remember to watch your favorite YouTube channels and listen to fun podcasts (I’m listening to The Scrubs one with Zach Braff and Donald Faison- sooo good!)
Save some posi messages from Instagram (there’s loads on the HATW insta) to pick you up when you need it. Use your socials to counteract the negative stuff and put positive vibes out into the world. Shout out your mates who are awesome or skilled at something. Do an appreciation post for something that’s working for you right now, or someone that’s been helpful. It’s nice to pay it forward and spread some love. Shout out small businesses struggling right now but that you love to shop with! This is all going to help you feel more positive in these trying times.
Try not to over expose yourself to intense news, ask a friend to fill you in on necessary info when you need it. Delete some apps, and shut off when you need to. It’s all about controlling what you can in a time where you may feel out of control with so much. Si had some thoughts on this recently so check out his video!
Suggesting exercise is such an eye roller right? But if I can get a little chemical boost of serotonin by doing some push ups and it makes me even feel 1% happier you better believe I’m gonna be doing little bursts of exercise throughout my day. Utilise your outdoors exercise and really push yourself, or just have a chill yoga stretch at the start of the day. Seriously whatever works for you, just give it a go!
Positive affirmations are a constructive set up to your day. Tell yourself something uplifting in the mirror at the start or end of the day and challenge those negative thoughts. Here’s a few we love:
“Focus on now. Get through today, that’s another day closer to things getting better”
“I can do this, I am strong, I am capable”
“I am awesome, I got this”
Find an affirmation that works for you (even if you don’t believe it at first.) If you say it enough, you’ll change your thinking and start to believe it and then action it into your life.
If you’re the kind of person who thrives with a routine, then try and stick to one now. Make sure you’re getting up when you plan to. Try and set rough times each day to eat. Maybe even try and set goals for yourself each day to give yourself something to focus on. These could be work projects you have to get done, or general activities like “make sure you have a shower and a stretch today”. Stick with is as much as you can, and remember to factor in some chill time and some fun activities where you can blow off some steam and laugh! It’s so important to laugh right now!
Put together a shoe box or container full of things that remind you of good times, and things that bring a smile to your face. Put things in there that comfort you, that feel nice to your touch or that smell good. Mine has old mix CDs, photos of friends and family, a lush scented candle and a little cuddly toy shark I got on holiday that feels soft (and I love sharks!) When you’re feeling down, open your box up and give yourself a little emotional hug. I think of mine as my feelings first aid kit (god, I’m cheesy today!)
1. If you’re someone who struggles with intrusive negative thoughts then think about things to focus on instead. Write a little list of things you can do to take your mind off stuff – a jigsaw, colouring book, watching Netflix, whatever! It could even be something like picking a colour and counting how many things are around you in that colour or counting backwards from 100 in increments of 7.
2. If you can’t motivate yourself to do anything try the 5 minute rule. This is where you commit to an activity for just 5 mins. After the 5 mins you can choose to stop or continue!
3. Feeling all over the shop and burned out? Try some grounding techniques. Stop and take a breath. Notice things around you. Tick off the following mentally:
5 things you can see
4 things you can touch
3 things you can hear
2 things you can smell
1 thing you can taste
These sort of things help you move through distressing moments, focus your thinking and calm you down.
Remember- people care about you. If you’re in a bad place please reach out to a family member or friend that you can confide in and feel comforted by. Let them know what you need: “I just need someone to listen right now”, “ I need some advice”, “ I just need to know someone is here for me”.
If you feel like you can’t open up to someone you know, then there are a bunch of helplines available. These are ran by trained professionals who will support you through whatever you’re dealing with. Check out the helplines section on our website here.
Your GP can speak to you over the phone and counseling sessions can happen via call or FaceTime. Find what works for you, speak to someone who can help.
The HATW website (hatw.co.uk) has a tonne more coping techniques and things to read through and try out too. Skim through a few blog posts or chuck one of our rad playlists on. Go through the coping techniques section and make a list of stuff you wanna try. We believe it’s a good resource- there’s something there for everyone.
We’re all in this together pals, and we can all get through this. Stay strong, be good to yourselves and keep going. Even if that means chocolate for breakfast sometimes.