I've found since the pandemic hit in, there is much more awareness of the importance of looking after our mental wellbeing. It was a reminder that it impacts every single one of us, regardless of age, sex, job status, amount of money in the bank. We all have days when we don't feel our best, but other times can feel quite different; despair about every day things, feeling unmotivated to do anything, low and alone, or just outright sad. With triggers all around is like comparing yourself to a stranger to on social media, or feeling overwhelmed with working from home, or stressed about all the other things going on in the world, its no wonder rates of anxiety and depression have doubled since the outbreak of Covid 19 and life looking very different to normal as a result.
While it's not uncommon to feel occasionally down, there are some every day things that can help you cope and feel better, instantly. See 5 easy and everyday suggestions below.
Get moving- exercise boost feel good hormones called endorphins, which is why it is encouraged so much. If you hear someone who regularly exercises complain if they haven't been able to work out, you can relate it to this lack of release they have missed as a result of not having exercised. Movement can be especially helpful if you feel stressed and need a sense of release, because you are literally allowing your body to let go of that feeling. Whatever your choice of movement, whether a jog in the park or lifting weight at the gym, it will help elevate your mood and make you feel better.
Expose yourself to nature. Studies show gardening is one of the most effective ways to improve symptoms of depression for people with mild to moderate symptoms. Being immersed in nature can quickly calm us down and improve our state of mood. Whether you have access to luscious forestry, plants around your home, or beautiful photographs of the Amazon rainforest in your office, exposure to colours of nature will help calm even the busiest mind.
Hang out with loved ones- talking to or socialising with people you consider to be part of your 'tribe' has a positive affect on how safe you feel in the world. And who doesn't want to feel safe?! Prehistorically, we all lived in close knit communities who we trusted and relied on for all manners of life. Modern living means more people live and socialise in isolation, which can make us feel uncertain of things and like we are battling our concerns alone, which can be the single most stressful thing on a human body in the long run. Sharing how you feel and being reassured that you're not alone, provides a sense of belonging. If you are struggling and need to speak with a professional, Talking Therapies with the NHS is a great service. Speak to your GP or a private specialist for more information or suitable alternatives you may wish to explore.
Keep a gratitude journal- I wasn't convinced of this for a long time and thought it was an airy fairy way to sell cute notebooks. But the psychology of reminding yourself of what is good in your life is one of the simplest ways to ease a tense mind. As part of our innate survival instincts, our brains are wired to remember things that we consider 'dangerous'. So it's not surprising so many of us struggle to sleep when our head hits the pillow, if we have all these negative thoughts floating around in our minds. Before bed or first thing in the morning, jot down 3 things you are grateful for. This doesn't have to be shared with anyone and can include anything from finding a great pair of jeans that fit perfectly or a great cup of tea you enjoyed for breakfast. Try it and see for yourself how much your state of wellbeing improves, as a result.
Schedule in tech free time - I know its not the easiest and sometimes more obvious thing to do, but the research is clear- the more time spent on your phone scrolling aimlessly through social media, the worse off your mood is likely to be. Doing something else, anything else, will not only make you feel better but is likely going to help you get through more in the day whether it's life admin or something fun that you realise you love doing. For me that's reading. This is guaranteed to make you feel better, as most of us don't realise how much time we spend aimlessly scrolling. A good idea is to dedicate time when you're not looking at your phone- put it in another room, lock it up, turn it off, or update your settings so your phone notifies you to only use it during a certain time. You will sleep better, get more done and be in a much better mood as a result!