Times are tough right now. We’re all feeling a bit unsure of what the future holds during what is a very uncertain time. But if we let things get on top of us while we’re stuck at home in lockdown, we can end up feeling overwhelmed and burnt out. If you start to feel like things are getting too much, here are 5 practical ways to lift yourself up!
1. If you can, go for a walk. (keeping social distancing rules of course!)
Science shows that walking is not only great for your physical health but your mental health too! It significantly improves your mood, stress levels, self-esteem and self-perception by giving you those much-needed endorphins. Getting outside is a great way to clear your head while soaking in some fresh air and vitamin D at the same time. It can be hard to get motivated for a walk when you’re not feeling great but even walking for as little as 10 minutes will do wonders for both your body and mind!
Become aware of your thoughts.
We often forget that are our thoughts are just thoughts and despite how it feels at times, we control them- not the other way around! They run off on wild stories (most of which are false or catastrophising) and if we don’t become aware of them, we can end up feeling drained and overwhelmed. When we bring awareness to some of our less helpful thoughts, we can actively work on changing them to be more positive and productive ones. Whilst this sounds too simple to really change much, it can actually be a very powerful mindfulness tool to use when you get stuck in a negative thinking cycle. Try and become aware of your thoughts, listen to them and ask yourself; “is what I am telling myself at this moment true? Is it helpful? Does it motivate me to move forward?” if not, change your self-talk, rewire those neural pathways and you will start thinking and feeling better!
3. Talk to someone.
One of the most effective ways to cope when you’re feeling down is by finding someone you can talk to and share your thoughts with them. Whether it’s a friend, family member or just someone you feel comfortable being open with, telling someone else what’s on your mind is a great way to gain new perspectives, unburden your negative thoughts and reconnect. Often, we don’t need people to solve all our problems for us, we just need to talk it out so we can see things a bit more clearly and lay it all out so those unhelpful thoughts are left to run off on tangents in our minds. Whilst catching up in person isn’t always possible right now, a phone call, skype call or even an exchange of texts can go a long way in helping you not feel so alone.
4. Cuddle your pets.
Pet adoption numbers have dramatically increased during a lockdown and it’s no wonder why. Did you know that having a pet has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, anxiety, loneliness, improve mood and can even do wonders for your cardiovascular health? Our furry family members are natural-born healers, they can sense when we are feeling down and instinctively comfort us with their affection and the unconditional love (the kind of love you can only get from a pet!). So if you don’t own a pet, now is a great time to adopt- keeping in mind a pet is a life-long decision, and if you already have a furbaby of your own, make cuddles your first point of call when you need a little boost!
If you’ve never tried meditation, with all this spare time on our hands, now is the perfect time to give it a shot! There have been countless studies on the benefits of meditation and after a long-running culture of scepticism around the practice, it’s now widely accepted in western culture as being one of the best tools for battling things like depression, anxiety, mood disorders, high-stress levels and chronic pain. Meditation has been proven to change regions in the brain linked to depression such as the prefrontal cortex where you process information about yourself, and the amygdala, the fear centre where the ‘fight or flight’ response lives. It changes the connections between these two parts of the brain which can drastically improve your mood and overall wellbeing. There are many online platforms with free ‘guided meditations’ out there to get you started, so there’s no excuse to give it go!
Blog by: Karina stone