It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog and since I’ve had my newly revamped website, Covid19 has come to our doorsteps and decided to stay. Managing a business with two small children has definitely been challenging so I’m going to share my top 10 tips for Mental Health that are particularly useful during these times.
1. Get Active
The most important piece of advice that I can share is get active. At the minute, in Ireland, we can’t go beyond 2km from our homes. That still means we can walk, cycle, run, jog, skip (whatever takes your fancy). Getting out in the fresh air has SO many benefits: it makes you feel happier, strengthens your immune system, improves blood pressure and heart rate…amongst many others. Also, when you’re exercising, you’re getting a wonderful boost of the amazing chemical Serotonin. It’s linked with regulating mood and social behaviour, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, and sexual desire and function. In short- it’s AMAZING!
If getting out of the house isn’t possible for you. There are HUNDREDS of online workouts and apps that you can choose from, whatever your taste. You can do yoga, HIIT, aerobics, dance, Zumba, 7-minute workouts, weight lifting.
I know the struggle of trying to fit in exercise with small kids around and sometimes you might end up doing any of the above home workouts with a small person hanging from you (it adds to the challenge though right?) but sometimes, turning on your favourite upbeat tune and dancing it out for 20+ minutes is a workout in itself.
2. Take Care of Yourself
We’re hearing this statement a lot these days and while some days might be easier than others to give ourselves a pamper, read a book or do those relaxing things (I’m thinking particularly about those of you with kids), dressing yourself nicely, doing your hair and makeup and eating something that you know is going to benefit your body. Good food doesn’t have to take hours to prepare.
3. Surround yourself with people who lift you up
If you spend an hour listening to a ‘negative nelly’, it’s going to rub off! There is no shortage of people who will be delighted to highlight negatives in life. But think how do you feel when you spend time with someone that’s the opposite? Someone that’s supportive, kind, empathetic, makes you laugh, listens to you when you’re having a bad, and reassures you that it will pass. Be kind to yourself and surround yourself/talk on the phone with/video chat with people who lift you up. You’ll always recognise these people because you’ll feel better after talking with them.
4. Help others
Studies conducted by Berkeley University on the effects of helping others show that, “… helping others has a wide variety of benefits: Being kind and helpful can make us happier, give us a sense of purpose and meaning, and even lower our blood pressure”. So not only will you benefit mentally from supporting someone else, it has numerous physical benefits too- hurrah!
5. Manage the stress in your life
While stress is a normal part of everyday life and the stress hormones, we have are there for survival amongst other things, there becomes an issue when too much stress is present! Stress affects our physical and mental health and is recorded as the number 1 reason for falling sick.
Ways to manage stress are:
-recognise the areas or people in your life that are causing you stress and put a plan in a place on how to best deal with these
– deep breathing is incredibly beneficial
-mindfulness meditations (you can find literally 1000s of these for free on YouTube or Spotify)
– walking in nature
-journaling/writing about how your feeling
-talk with your supportive friends and family members about the stresses your experiencing
6. Be kind to and respect yourself
A lot of my clients come to coaching in self-sabotage mode. That is, they talk badly about themselves, they feel nothing they do is good enough and they fill their days with all the things they ‘should’ do. Being kind to yourself not only improves your mental health but also has tangible physical health benefits.
Self-Compassion is part of self-care. Be kind to yourself. What advice would you give to some you love? Put down that stick and stop beating yourself!!! Be kinder to yourself. Start right now!
7. Practice Mindfulness
One of the main signs that our mental health is suffering is increased mental agitation. When we’re focusing on problems, issues, worries, etc. they can become bigger and bigger until it feels like they’re unmanageable. Taking a step back and relaxing your mind by practicing calmness is so useful.
Mindfulness comes from emptying our minds of the constant chatter and focusing on what is just now- our breathing, our heartbeat, the physical sensations in our bodies.
Lie down or sit down, get yourself comfortable and spend a few minutes breathing in for 4seconds, filling your belly up with air and breathing out for 8 …and repeat…and repeat…and continue. Let your thoughts come and go and continue breathing. Sounds simple but the benefits of even doing 1 minute of mindfulness breathing has an incredible impact on our mental health as well as the day ahead.
8. Avoid substances that will exasperate things.
While having a glass of your favourite alcoholic beverage might be at the top of your list of things to help when you feel your mental health suffer, remember that alcohol is a depressant and when you do not feel 100%, it might end up making things worse.
Try opting for things will benefit your mental health like a good movie with a cup of tea instead.
9. Get a healthy routine in place
Routines and healthy habits are great for motivating us and help us feel in control and more positive about our days.
Try keep a similar routine each day by getting up at X time, getting dressed, exercising or relaxing. A great exercise I love to use with clients is to draw up your week and write down what you’re doing each day. You’ll get a good idea about where you’re focusing your time and see where you can be more efficient and what way you want your week to look instead. It sounds simple but again most people surprised that they spent X amount of time on social media (example) when they could have spent that time on something they would enjoy more/would benefit their mental health more.
10. Ask for help when you need it
Everyone needs help at some stage in their lives. It’s perfectly normal to have good days and bad days. Recognise when you need help and reach out. Sometimes talking with friends and family members helps as they can support you and offer help in different areas. Other times the support of a professional is needed. Counsellors and Life Coaches are available in person and online to help you through difficult times and get you back on the road to feeling yourself again.
Your mental health is a crucial part of your wellbeing and I hope that some of these tips are useful. Share this article with those you feel might benefits. Remeber- support each other and take care of yourself! Please get in touch if you are interested in online Life Coaching sessions or if you would like to talk about any the points above.
Wishing you all the best during these surreal times.
Warmest regards always,