As of writing this, we are now more than three weeks into a nationwide lockdown that also sees more than half of the global population effectively confined to their own homes. I won’t mention the new C word, through fear of triggering my own anxiety, but these are challenging times. Collective fear, an inability to return to the norm, and daily updates of doom and gloom certainly draw in the metaphorical clouds on what are very sunny days. As someone who is more than familiar with health anxiety and typically a sense of pessimism, it is even more important now, more than ever, to really take care of my mental health. Here’s what I have been doing…
Avoid The Triggers
The lockdown, by definition, is a physical avoidance of the key trigger; a virus. So, why not mentally lock yourself away from that trigger too? Information is important and the daily updates from the government are key, but, outside of these nuggets of information it really does help to avoid too much of the doom and gloom. As a rule, I try not to read any negative or anxiety-inducing news first thing in the morning or last thing in the day.
Thankfully this is happening in 2020 and not 1920. With technology we can now be closer to our loved ones more frequently than ever. Schedule a weekly, or daily, FaceTime or House Party session with family and friends and check in on people that you haven’t heard from in a while. Better yet, check-in with those who are literally around you; there is no better feeling than helping someone out who really needs it.
In a complete U-turn on the above, there are also moments where it can pay to switch off. Reading and music have always been two escapes of mine and really take my mind away from the current situation. There has literally been no better time to put your phone or laptop down and grab that book or listen to that podcast. Taking your mind away from that anxiety can be great; find solace by transporting your mind to somewhere else entirely.
Have a Routine
Sure, you can’t have your old routine back, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t have a routine. Start with the basics; get up at a reasonable time and make your bed. That’s your first achievement of the day. Have a shower. Get dressed. Don’t get dressed but get that work done. Whatever it is, try and keep a bit of structure in your day-to-day life. It will help and it really gives me a sense of purpose doing something (whatever that something may be).
Write Down Thoughts and Feelings
Sometimes it is the classic remedies that work best. Writing things down is always helpful for me (case in point here) and there is no better time to highlight those times that you feel really good. I have a Six-Minute Diary which I swear by; positive affirmations in the AM followed by things I am grateful for in the PM. These can be as menial as you like; I, for one, am very grateful for good coffee on those slower paced days.