A year in lockdown – with no clear end in sight – is taking its toll. We need to learn how to look after our minds as much as our bodies, says Grainne O’Neill, who shares ten habits to introduce for good mental hygiene …
As the whole Covid situation continues to go on (and on), and even though there is a vaccine in sight, it can still feel very frustrating with the monotony of the whole ‘Groundhog Day-ness’ of it all. We all know about exercising and eating well to enhance our wellbeing but here are my top ten tips for maintaining good mental hygiene:
1. Connecting With Others
It is very easy to feel isolated, especially if we are living on our own. For many of us, the only way to connect is virtually. Do remember that even if you can’t get to physically see your friends or loved ones in person, the soft contacts and conversations that you have with someone in a shop or when you buy a cup of coffee could help you to feel more connected. And always make time for a phone or video call when you’re feeling lonely, it really can work wonders to lift the spirits.
2. Unplug From Your Phone
We have all become wedded to our phones. Of course, they are very handy (especially for staying connected, see above) but there can be this incessant need to keep checking emails, news updates, social media and this means that your mind is constantly on. If you can’t bear to turn off your phone, even leaving it in another room so you don’t have it beside you for a couple of hours each day will help to give your mind a rest. And try not to check it for at least one hour before you go to bed to allow your mind to properly switch off.
Tapping or Emotional Freedom Techniques as it is more commonly known, is a system where you tap on acupuncture points around the body as a way of releasing stress and anxiety. When you stimulate acupuncture points, it sends a calming signal to the brain and is a great way to help you to feel more relaxed. Try it when you get up to kickstart your day or when you are finding things particularly stressful. You can find some more of my tapping tips through this link.
4. Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
When we see others often we automatically think that they are doing so much better than us. Remember, Facebook and Instagram is not real life and people usually only show the best side of themselves on their social media profiles. We don’t know what is going on behind the mask. And ask yourself, are you really comparing like with like?
5. It’s Ok Not Being Perfect
Trying to be perfect is exhausting and takes a lot of mental energy. The reality is that people love us warts and all. Our imperfections are what make us who we are. Give yourself a break and appreciate the quirkiness that makes you who you are.
6. Give Space To Your Emotions
Covid-19 has added an extra layer of stress, anxiety and frustration to everything that we do. Make sure to take some time out during your day, to tune into your emotions, see how you feel, and sit with whatever is coming up for you … and breathe. One of the great advantages of doing this is that when you go to try to go to sleep at night, having given yourself this time during the day means that you are not doing it when your head hits the pillow. Which leads me on to my next point…
7. A Good Night’s Sleep
Everything feels so much better when we have had a good night’s sleep. And we all have our own rhythm that is right for us. Try to tune into what works best for you (going to bed early or late), or getting up at a certain time. It may help to keep a note of the times when you had a great night’s sleep to see if there is a pattern emerging of what worked for you.
8. Acknowledge Your Achievements
This has been a very challenging year for everyone. The fact that you are still standing, putting food on the table every day and have survived this year is an achievement in itself. You are doing great so congratulate yourself for this and all the small victories throughout your day.
Visualising is a very powerful way of shifting your energy and raising your vibration. Close your eyes and picture where you would like to be, how you would like to feel, what you would like to be doing. Feel how good it feels to be exactly where you want to be, hear what people are saying to you, see what it looks like and really intensify these feelings, sounds, images and make them brighter and bolder. Keep doing this until you can really tune in with all your senses and notice how good it feels.
10. Self-Care & Compassion
We are a year along the Covid road and have lived with this stress for a long time. Now is the time to really ramp up on the self-care and being kind to ourselves. Even doing things like sending ourselves a bunch of flowers, asking ourselves, what is the gentlest thing for me to do here, and just giving ourselves a break.
Each and every one of us is a precious commodity and it is time to start treating ourselves like this.
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