How to Look After Your Mental Health During A Crisis
The world today seems scarcely recognisable. It’s as if we’ve all woken up on some strange, desolate and, frankly, pretty terrifying new planet. As the Coronavirus blazes its way around the globe and even world leaders prove vulnerable to the pathogen, we’re all grappling with our fear of this unseen enemy.
We find ourselves living a new ‘normal’, a world pretty much confined between four walls, where schools and businesses are shuttered, and where a comforting hug from our loved ones can prove lethal. To say the least, it’s a lot to deal with.
So how can you look after your mental health when you’re not even sure what might come next? Simply ‘staying calm’ is easier said than done, which is why many of us are looking for ways to establish a routine and stay connected with those we love.
Not sure where to start? Let’s take a look at a few strategies you can use to stay sane in a time of uncertainty and set yourself up for a healthier and happier tomorrow.
1. Be considerate of your space
Being stuck inside isn’t easy. And it’s far from something we’re used to. But it’s a necessary part of protecting ourselves and the most vulnerable from the spread of the virus.
And this sort of sacrifice means we’re going to be spending a lot more time in close quarters with the people we love. Whether that’s your housemates or your family members, it’s a good idea to practise considerate household etiquette.
Showing little kindnesses for the people you live with, such as sharing cooking responsibilities or dedicating spaces for ‘alone time’ and working from home, can help defuse the tensions in the house. And it can keep you from grating too fiercely on each other’s last nerves
And don’t think that the little things go unnoticed. Why not make sure your fridge and your cupboards are well-stocked when supplies look low? After all, in an era of empty supermarket shelves and the hoarding of household staples, knowing that your household is supplied with ample fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy to make it through the lockdown can be a great comfort.
2. Create a routine
The lockdown has many of us working from home, and that can be great for your mental health (especially as you’re no longer worrying about things like the daily commute). Not only will working from home help to reduce some of the financial stress so many of us are facing right now, but it will also give you a sense of normalcy and purpose. Try to stick to the routines you would have in the office—set up a designated office space and get up, get dressed and maintain your regular working hours. The more you stick to this, the more normal things will start to feel over time.
And for those of us that are furloughed or out of work, routine is even more vital to keep you motivated. Maybe there’s some DIY you’ve been meaning to do or you want to improve your fitness. Or maybe you’re looking to spruce up your CV and dive straight into the job hunt. That’s only going to happen if you set up a routine and stick to it. Make a schedule for each day and set goals. That way, you’re more likely to be productive and less likely to sit around binging Netflix.
Not only will this help you be more productive, but it’s also going to give you less time to worry about things you can’t control.
3. Get lost (in a book, that is)
Of course, you can’t work 24/7. And you shouldn’t be expecting yourself to fill every waking hour with work or personal projects. We’re in the midst of a global crisis, and now is the time to be gentle with yourself. Practice some extreme self-care by setting aside time each day for the things you love.
For example, right now is a perfect opportunity to get lost in that novel you’ve been meaning to make time for. You can even sign up for online book clubs and lending libraries. Have you considered starting up a virtual book club with your friends? After all, there’s no better way to escape the worries of this world than by getting lost in the world of a good book.
4. Get involved in a good cause
If you’ve ever worked in the charity sector, then you already know that one of the best ways to help yourself is by helping others. You might wonder, though, how you can still contribute to your community when your community is in lockdown.
It’s actually not as hard as you may think. There are still scores of things you can do right now, from donating blood to contributing money and supplies to your local food banks.
Believe us, plenty of charities are looking for people to help out. And if you’re currently on furlough, you’re allowed to volunteer, so why not spend your free time getting involved in a good cause?
You can even reach out to those in need right from the safety and security of your own home. Social networking apps like Zoom and Skype can help you video conference with lonely seniors stuck at home during the lockdown or parents struggling with homeschooling their children. You might even use this time to launch a new career in the non-profit sector, such as by taking up grant writing, fundraising or advocacy.
Don’t see this as a setback, see it as an opportunity
You’ll never have this much free time again, so make the most of it.
Sure, things are challenging, but you can make it through with your physical and mental health intact. What’s required, above all, is a commitment both to caring for yourself and caring for others. It means being a thoughtful and patient housemate. It means setting up a routine to integrate a sense of normalcy and accomplishment into your life on lockdown. It means taking the time to indulge in a little self-care. And above all, it means taking the time to reach out and connect with those in need.
Eager to see how you can get involved in a good time through all this? Find out which charities are looking for volunteers today.