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Protecting our mental health in lockdown

Current events around the world are having an impact on our mental health. I’d like to share some thoughts on how I feel we can all protect our mental health in the months ahead.

# Start a daily routine

Keep a daily routine that includes getting washed, dressed and making your bed. Open the blinds, open a couple of windows to create a good airflow in your living space.

Journal

Why not start a journal?

# Keep a "gratitude" journal

Keep a gratitude journal. This could be as simple as writing down 3 things you are thankful for each morning. Simplicity is key – being thankful for having meals for the day, a nice clear blue sky, a great cup of tea or a beautiful sunrise will help us to keep perspective on what is important right now.

# Limit social media

Choose short windows of time’ for watching news and consuming social media. I suggest, 15 minutes after lunch and 15 minutes after dinner at the very most. I cannot express how important it is, to not do this first thing in the morning or last thing before you go to sleep. (Out of all these suggestions, I am convinced this one will have the biggest impact on your mental health)

Phone and ear pods on table

Why not put the phone down occasionally?

# Connect with someone else

Connect with someone outside your home once a day, via phone or text. Try to do this directly, rather than, for example, in a group chat.

This sense of connection will firstly be of benefit to the other person, as they appreciate you making the effort to speak with them. But also, it will help take the focus off yourself and your own circumstances. This can serve as a welcome distraction.

# Make the most of your garden

If you have a garden or outside space, use it as much as possible. Sometimes when we are experiencing anxiety it can be difficult to do exercise or use our time in a constructive way. I understand this. Do not feel discouraged.

Something as simple as sitting outside to enjoy your morning coffee will be of benefit to your mental health. The daylight (even on an overcast day), and the fresh air are a great combination. Why not clean down a deck chair and have it sitting outside ready for you to use it?

Pretty garden shed

It's spring! Spend it in your garden if you have one.

# Affirm

Daily affirmations can be a really good way to combat the negative thoughts that we are all battling right now. The concept of affirmations sometimes gets shrugged off as airy-fairy’ nonsense, but I promise you it can have a positive impact on your mental health. For example, if you were to write two affirmations, and speak them audibly a few times every day, maybe think about them during the day when stress is triggered, at the very least it will do no harm.

My experience is that it will do a lot of good. Some examples might be

  • I feel fearful about what is happening right now, now but I can always pray and trust in God’s promise to never leave me.
  • Even though I am not with anyone right now, I have so many ways I can communicate with others, I am thankful for technology.
  • I can’t do everything in the way I normally can, but I am doing my best and that is enough.
  • I am blessed with good health right now, and I am going to use it to enjoy my day.
  • Despite feeling unwell, I am thankful for medicine, and access to healthcare if I need it.
  • I am going to come through this situation as a stronger person.

Ask for help

Reach out when you feel low. Identify three people you could rely on to offer a listening ear when you are having a tough day.

Phone counselling services also offer support;