As we enter another lockdown, it can be hard to think about another period of time at home. As much as lying in and staying in your pyjamas all day would be tempting, routine is essential. A relaxed routine may be preferred and that is okay, however some sort of routine is needed.
Find something that interests you to focus on for a period of time every single day. This could be doing a part of your art every day or a different project every day, whichever you prefer. Your interests may not link to a project and instead you may prefer to exercise or meditate.
This blog will give some suggestions of things you could try to reduce stress and improve your mental health during the lockdown.
1) Move more every day
Being active reduces stress and increases energy levels, which can improve sleep. Having routine sleep patterns allows you to be active through the day rather than sleeping through most of the day and being lethargic and not completing anything. A bad head space can occur when someone has not done something for a day and too much sleep can demotivate someone from getting up and active.
Why not explore different ways to add physical movement and activity to your day and find something that works best for you and perhaps find creative ways of implementing this into your routine and have some fun with it? You could try at home workouts through YouTube, go for a daily walk or make up fun games around the house on how you have to move around the house to do certain usual daily tasks. (For example, your family could say if you want to access the fridge you have to hop)
2) Try relaxation techniques
Relaxing and focusing your breathing can help to release tension and produce positive thoughts. Try to think about your body through the day and identify symptoms of stress or tension. You may realise your body is stiff and may look at different techniques to release this stress.
Why not try meditating and releasing negative thoughts, emotions and tension?
Have you ever tried the 4-7-8 breathing exercise? Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds, and then exhale for 8 seconds. Repeat as many times as you need to help calm your thoughts. If 4-7-8 doesn't work for you, try 4-4-6 or 4-6-6.
Apps can be helpful for meditation. We suggest: Calm, Headspace, Mindfulness
3) Connect with others
Perhaps speaking to others and social interaction is something that would relax you and keep you feeling positive. Staying at home can feel lonely, however many people you live with, being with the same amount of people day in day out can feel lonely, when there are limited amount of things to talk about and having a limited amount of board games that are available to play. Find time to zoom, facetime or call friends and other family members.
Many people are now bored of zoom quizzes after the first lockdown. Why not play a board game over zoom? Find a board game you both have or a game where the board is not the focus point within the game. Or you could recreate a favourite TV show to add some variety - Taskmaster, Pointless or Tenable could all be recreated with some prep work and make it more fun than just a normal quiz!
4) Take time to reflect and practice self-compassion
Make time every day to reflect on something positive. Whether all you managed to do was get out of bed and make a cup of tea or you completed an important task. Celebrate all the small things you have completed.
Why not has a notebook next to your bed that you focus on every evening and write down one or two positive things you did that day?
5) Improve Sleep
With different changes through the year you may be experiencing trouble sleeping. There are many things that can improve your sleep. Aim to go to bed and get up at a similar time each day. Try to gain natural sunlight every day, whether this being just opening curtains and windows or going for a walk, run or bike ride. This regulates your body clock which can help you sleep better.
If stress contributes to you not being able to sleep, why not try meditation or focus on your breathing before trying to sleep? You could see if any sounds calm you and play a calming soundtrack to help you focus and sleep.
This time is difficult for everyone. Not only focus on your mental health but make sure you check up on loved ones and make sure everyone is okay.
Below are some different resources which can help you this has made you think and either need some help or want to find out more.
Mind UK: https://www.mind.org.uk/
Time to Change: https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/personal-stories
Time to Change has numerous accounts from a range of young people with all different experiences of mental health problems. From anxiety to phobias, eating disorders to myth-busting, this website is a great starting point for anyone worried about a mental health issue, whoever it’s affecting.
Mental Health Foundation: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/
This has a specific section on the website for mental health through corona virus if this is something you may be in need of.