During this time of isolation, it’s important to consider how’s best to maintain and nurture your mental wellbeing. Now’s the time you can really instil some good future practices.
There’s a lot of uncertainty about what the future holds, and when we lack that sense of control and predictability, we can quickly resort to feeling anxious and panicked. This is completely understandable. So, what we can do is make our lives that little bit more predictable by giving it some structure.
As soon as you come to a place of acceptance that what’s going on is largely out of your control (other than following government guidelines), the easier it is to adjust to your new reality. Then you can start over and begin building a new 'normal'.
It’s also important to be kind to yourself. If you’re not motivated or feeling a bit overwhelmed, that’s okay. Don’t try to snap yourself out it, because it’ll creep back in at another time. Go through the motions – your mind and body are trying to adjust so you’ll naturally feel more tired and unsettled. We’re bombarded with images and videos of people being super creative and productive recently... that doesn’t mean you need to be too. Take your time.
So, where do you start?
You’re not living your everyday life right now so spend a bit of time trying to construct a new routine. Whether you’re working from home or you have some time off:
Get ready in the morning. As comforting as it is wearing your pyjamas all day, chances are it doesn’t make you particularly productive. This doesn’t mean you need to get your occasion wear out, but spend the same time you normally would getting ready. Consider waking up at your usual time too, then once you’re ready you’ll be in the right mindset for the day ahead.
If you’re working from home, try to only work your normal working hours and have a dedicated workspace. It’s important for your ‘working’ area and ‘resting’ area to be kept apart to help keep a good work-life balance.
Take a break – use this time to let the creativity flow. Pick up your instrument or write some lyrics. It doesn’t need to be perfect, just let your brain have a bit of freedom.
If you have colleagues, keep in contact with them – this could help you feel part of a team, giving you a small sense of normality.
If you have any outside space (a garden, balcony) take advantage of this! Fresh air and natural sunlight will do you the world of good and give you that important dose of vitamin D.
A great thing that we can practise during this time is mindfulness. Before diving into the practice, it is useful to consider what is meant by the term;
Mindfulness – “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something”
But what does that mean? It’s simply the act of appreciating and taking in what is happening in your life at that very moment. What are your thoughts? What can you hear? How is your body feeling?
Breathing techniques can be a great way of calming down our body and mind. A good starting point is breathing in through your nose for 5 counts, holding your breath there for 5 counts, then breathe out through your mouth for 5 counts. Repeat that 5 times when you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious.
Body scans are another great way of bringing you back to the present moment. Starting with your feet and working your way up to the top of your head, slowly scan every part of your body. You may notice you hold tension in your legs, shoulders and face, let that soften and relax.
Finally, mindfulness can be practised throughout the day. When you’re next making a cuppa, try not to let your mind wander, focus just on the act of making that cup of tea. It may be harder than you think! Also take time to notice your surroundings – the blue sky, the smell of cooking, the sound of the birds.
It’s a well-known fact that exercise releases those happy hormones, endorphins. So if you’re feeling a bit lethargic and low, try and start with an easy 5-10 minutes of movement. This doesn’t mean a full body workout; you can put on your favourite song and dance around to that or run up and down your stairs a few times. Anything to get that heart rate up slightly. If you’re after a more guided workout, modern technology has enabled us to have so much information at our fingertips.
Fitness coach, Joe Wicks, has introduced morning PE lessons on YouTube to keep school children active and healthy, and a new viral challenge has taken over our social media feeds – The Stay at Home Challenge. If you’re more into the idea of strength training, Laura Biceps has put up some exercises you can do at home. Or if you’re after a bit of yoga, Steffy White holds regular online classes. Or for any other type of exercise, guarantee it’s online somewhere!
If online videos aren’t your thing, simply take an hour out of your day to get into nature. Take a walk (keeping a safe distance from others) and stick on a good podcast or album. Or venture out with your housemate or family and check in with how everyone’s day is going.
As a creative, you probably long for the time in the day to play or compose music, right? So, here is your chance. Take up that instrument you’ve wanted to learn, write the EP you’ve been meaning to write or sharpen up on your home recording set up!
You now have the time to reset yourself and come out of autopilot mode. Take advantage of your free time and try to make it beneficial, you could learn something that will set up your future.
The number of live streams that happen daily has massively increased, with musicians and bands still wanting to keep in touch with their fans - so make the most of these. Be part of the community that’s building all around us or build your own!
Now is the time to phone the friend you have been meaning to go for a coffee with or FaceTime a relative that lives far away. Equally, you could even get to know your neighbours better – wish them ‘good morning’ as they pass by. You could argue that we are currently being more social than we ever have been.
Maintaining connection with others, even at times when you don’t really want to, can make you feel more positive. We are all in this together, experiencing the same thing so everyone can relate. Don’t hold back on reaching out if and when you need to.
Remember you are not always going to feel positive enough to talk to everyone on your contacts list or constantly be creative. It is perfectly okay to have some downtime. If you’re living with other people, it’s still important that you have time by yourself to recharge. Allow yourself reflection time on how your day has been and how you’re feeling.
Stay safe, stay positive, stay creative.