Mental Health Survival for a Postponed World
Like many people, you might be experiencing a lot of interruption to your regularly scheduled programming. A sudden change in routine can affect your mental health and even motivation. Likewise, you might feel like 2020 is "cancelled." The changes in the world that we‘re experiencing are temporary. Here are some practical tips to act like life is postponed when it feels like it's cancelled.
Stick to a Routine
There‘s nothing wrong with embracing this brief interlude into second childhood as an adult. Meanwhile, getting motivated can be tricky when you fall out of routine. Having a daily routine is helpful for your mental health because you know what to expect from your day. If you previously had a morning alarm, keep an alarm set. Set it later if you'd like to, or if you can. Keeping a teensy bit of structure in your day can provide a sense of purpose and routine.
Do your regular morning activities. Eat breakfast, play with the kids, catch up on emails, etc. Similarly, in place of driving to work, do an exercise or enjoyable activity for the same amount of time. This can help you transition from home mode to work mode.
Eat meals at regular intervals. High stress can affect your mental health and physical health. Sometimes you can miss hunger cues. You might even overeat to soothe yourself. When activities can occupy your time, your metabolism can run on its regular schedule.
For some folks this is business as usual, but now the house is full and distracting. I feel grateful that my work routine has been relatively normal. Consequently, I take liberties during my day that I couldn’t before. I don’t wear shoes during sessions and I play with my cats on breaks. I wear comfy pants when I feel like it. You can take liberties, too!
If You're Unable to Work
Try these activities instead:
- Pick up an old hobby that you put down
- Start a new hobby
- Take a free class online (many online platforms are offering a free month trial)
- Remember that task you’ve been putting off for ages? Do it.
Fill your typical work hours with activities. This is different from "being productive." What you decide to do doesn’t have to be actual work. Consequently, it can help you feel a sense of normalcy if there's some learning or challenge. But this isn't a requirement.
Set a goal to do one small project per day. If you want to do some home projects, pace yourself so that you don’t run out of activities. Take advantage of making your own rules where you can.
Keep in Contact
You might already be in an email loop with your coworkers. Send your colleagues a message or start a group chat if you aren't. Create a group chat with your job site buddies from the field. You don’t have to talk about work. Catch up with one another. Chat about your interests while you‘re away from the job.
Keep in regular contact with friends and family if you want to fully embrace your freedom. Call a loved one to chat during your regular conference call hour. Family and friends are are emotional and social supports. Connecting with loved ones can remind you that you’re not alone in this.
We've been presented with a unique opportunity to do things that we've had little time to do. Do you want to work in your pyjamas? Make up a blanket fort? Go camping in your backyard? Host an outdoor movie night for your household? Train your cat? There’s no reason you can’t be having a little more fun in your life. Likewise, fun doesn’t have to stop during uncertain times.
According to research, spending 20 to 30 minutes outdoors reduces stress. Spend time in nature walking or even finding a nice spot to sit. Yes, even sitting in nature can reduce stress! Going outdoors during quieter times of the day like early morning or mealtimes can ensure social distancing.
Dress for Your Mood
What we wear can express how we feel and can influence our mood. Want to feel more relaxed? Enjoy a low maintenance day where you dress comfy and skip the make up. Balance this by maintaining good hygiene. Brush your teeth, shower, wash your hair, change your clothes. Give yourself some pampering like a bubble bath or a face mask. Get gussied up for a night in to feel fancy. You make the rules!
First of all, regular activity is correlated to improved mental health and well-being. Try to move 20 to 30 minutes per day. You can do this in nature, or in the home. Take the kids or the dog for a walk. Walk on a nature trail. Stroll around the neighbourhood for a while. Practice a yoga or exercise routine on YouTube.
Here are some quick tips to nourish yourself:
- Eat enjoyable meals
- Stay hydrated. Water can rejuvenate and invigorate!
- Limit how much news you take in
- Set boundaries. You can tell others you don’t want to hear the news! If you need to refuse helping, gently say “I wish I could, but I don’t have the resources right now.”
- Create a cozy spot just for you at home
- Write down your favourite relaxing activities for a self-care menu. Get a colouring book, write in a journal, dance!
- Practice gratitude. Acknowledge 3 things you’re grateful for each day
- Practice patience. Kids might act up, your spouse might be cranky, you might feel irritable. This is all normal amidst uncertainty.
- Use humour. Alfred Adler believers humour had a healing quality. Finding light in difficult situations is a coping mechanism and can help to lighten the mood.
Know When to Seek Support
You don't have to weather this difficult time alone. Talking to your social and emotional supports can be a big help. In contrast, talking to a professional can give you special strategies for your mental health. If you're feeling overwhelmed, consider contacting a counsellor.
Finally, remember--this is temporary. The tips in this blog can be a guide for transitions, too. Connecting to others can lighten your load. The more compassionate you can be towards others and yourself, the easier things will seem.
Seeking some mental health support?
Schedule your first counselling session today.