Top Tips for Good Mental Health
If you start to feel a rising sense of panic, take a moment to ground yourself. Focus on the present – remind yourself that you are well, that your family and friends are ok. You have a roof over your head and food to eat. Right now, you are ok. Breathe through it. Download the Insight Timer app for more meditation ideas.
Take time out for yourself. Go for a walk or take advantage of the empty streets and dig your old bike out of the garage. Even if you can’t physically go outside, try to find a way to get some fresh air. Step into the garden or open a window.
Get involved in the community. Volunteer to help someone – from making a phone call to doing some shopping or baking a cake, there are plenty of ways you can help make someone else’s day a little brighter.
Talk to someone. Most counsellors have switched from face to face work to telephone, Zoom and Skype. Look on Counselling Directory and pick up the phone. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. Even if you were good before, you might be finding things a struggle now. It’s ok.
Write a journal. Try to include something you are grateful for. Putting your thoughts down on paper might help you to see them differently, and over time, you might be able to notice patterns, or see changes in how you are feeling.
LISTEN. When your friends call, don’t try and give them advice or tell them what to do – be there for them. Really listen to what they’re saying. Try to step into their shoes and see things from their perspective. We might all be facing the same storm, but we’re not all in the same boat.
Avoid too much alcohol and sugar – although these things can be soothing in the short term, in the long term, they might make you feel worse.
Cut yourself some slack. Everything is new. There’s no instruction manual – no one knows what they’re doing really. We’re all just making it up as we go along.
Step away from social media and the news. Pick your favourite newspaper or TV channel, and dip into those as frequently as you can tolerate. Block out the rest.
Do something fun. Bake a cake, dye your hair, play a game online with friends, watch a comedy on Netflix. Even in these dark times, try to let in the light.
Avoid toxic friendships. Be there for someone who’s struggling but don’t let their gripes get to you. Chances are, they were like this before the pandemic.
Experience ALL the feelings. It is easy to push things away, because you ‘should’ be feeling grateful, or you know that someone else has it worse. Acknowledge that you can feel conflicting emotions at the same time: Gratitude and fear; anger and joy; sadness and compassion.
Choose your Pandemic ‘word’. Creating a mantra for yourself can provide renewed focus. Mine is ‘BRAVE’. What do you want to be? Kind, thoughtful, sassy, bright? Remind yourself of your word as often as you need. Paint it on a canvas. Put it on your screensaver. Live it!
Where to go for help?
Counsellors have switched from face to face to phone, Skype, Whatsapp and Zoom. Chigwell Therapy Centre is working with clients by Zoom: www.chigwelltherapycentre.com 07379 278139.
Local organisations are offering discounts and free sessions to NHS and key workers, including Cherry Tree Therapy Centre https://www.cherrytreetherapycentre.co.uk 0208 506 1868.
Visit www.counselling-directory.org.uk to find a counsellor near you
Other free services include MIND, Childline and The Samaritans.