Welcome to part 2 of my Covid-19 related series on mental health! In part 1 we’ve covered Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and 6 practices that will help address those fundamental aspects of our lives.
In this part, I’ll share 11 powerful and yet super easy practices that have been helping me with my mental health. There are a lot, so let’s get to them!
This is a wonderful practice that has helped me get out of my head and gain perspective. Everyone’s practice will be different, there are so many ways to meditate and there’s no right or wrong technique I think – we are so unique and should do whatever works for us!
I use Headspace for my meditations and do them every morning during my morning routine. If you’re interested in finding an app that might work for you, I’ve created a list of mindfulness apps which you can download for free here.
Journalling also helps me get out of my head. It helps me talk through things that I’ve been overthinking or got too emotional over – and lets me resolve those things in my head. But again, everyone’s practice will be slightly different!
Google a couple of journaling prompts, pick up a pen and paper and get started – you will figure out what works best for you as you start doing it!
3. Write affirmations
Affirmations are statements affirming something about you or your life. They help you shift your perspective to a positive one and allow you to believe empowering things about your situation.
Affirmations may feel weird at first, but they are also incredibly powerful. I practice them every morning during my morning routine – and my practice changes depending on what I need it to be or address.
4. Take breaks
Just because you can continue working non-stop, it doesn’t mean you should. Taking breaks has been proven to be beneficial on all accounts and we sometimes have to be intentional about it.
Taking a break may mean anything – from getting up and getting some fresh air to just pausing and focusing on your breath for a second.
5. Create boundaries
Creating boundaries is an important skill that takes self-awareness and lots of practice. We all need to learn how to create boundaries between work and leisure time, boundaries in terms of the projects we take on as well as boundaries in our relationships with others.
For example, creating a boundary between work and time for you can entail creating a non-negotiable schedule of when you can be reached and when you are offline. It can also be a physical boundary – for example, you can have a dedicated space for work (normally that would be your office, but right now we’re talking about your workspace at home) or you can put on different clothing to put yourself in a work mode – and then take them off when you’re relaxing.
Boundaries are very important, they help us focus on our priorities in life while filtering all of the noise around them. Creating boundaries might be harder than you think though, because saying no to people or opportunities is much harder than saying yes to them!
I’m going to create a post on how to create boundaries and say no to people gracefully soon, so stay tuned.
6. Give yourself grace
I don’t know about you, but I’m a very demanding person when it comes to myself. I expect a lot from myself and I’m very harsh to myself when I don’t meet those expectations – that’s a fact and I’ve been learning how to be kinder to myself. But this is especially important these days.
We are all going through a spectrum of pain and emotions these days and we can’t expect ourselves to operate the same way we do normally. It’s ok not to be ok and we need to give ourselves time and space for that. We need to respect our experience and emotions – and stop that demanding internal talk.
You are human and you are wonderful. Unfortunately, we are our own biggest critics most of the time and our internal voices sometimes tell us things we will never say to a friend. Try to replace that negative voice with a more understanding one, treat yourself the same way you’d treat your best friend.
7. Change environments
If you can leave your home to go for a walk, do that by all means. Take advantage of changing environments and getting fresh air – while following social distancing best practices.
If you can’t leave your house, you will have to get creative! We went through a few weeks of not being able to leave our flat – we could only leave to go get groceries twice a week with a police permit, so trust me, I know how hard it can get.
Be creative when it comes to where you are! It’s crazy how many little places we can discover in our living spaces that feel like a little change of perspective or environment. For example, you can sit on the floor, move your desk somewhere else, go work on a balcony if you have one, etc. Let your inner child run free!
Moving is so good for our mental health, there have been countless studies behind that. And even though it can be difficult to motivate yourself – for those of us who are used to having a gym it’s hard to imagine how we would exercise at home, but it’s so important for your mental health.
There are so many YouTube videos with at-home exercise routines and apps that will let you have a fun workout! I’ve been using an app and exercising from home for a year and I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life. I did use airbnb gyms for cardio though, so I had to adjust that.
Move regularly and you will feel better. It’s that simple! And this isn’t not about your waistline or physical appearance, this is about your physical and mental wellbeing.
9. Get some sunlight
It’s crazy how much we need sunlight. I haven’t done too much research on this one – even though I’m sure there are a ton of studies behind this. I’m absolutely certain that we need it for our mental wellbeing. So if you can get outside and walk when it’s sunny out, please do that. If you can’t leave the house, try to get your face in the sun out of your window or balcony if you can!
When we weren’t able to leave the flat, my boyfriend and I would block out times on our calendars to hangout on our balcony for the 2 hours that the sun hit it. Now we go for long walks whenever it’s sunny and this is my favourite part of the day!
10. Practice self-awareness
I think this goes without saying, you will benefit endlessly from being more self-aware. It helps you understand and love yourself more. It also lets you know your reactions, what triggers you, how you handle things – and how your actions affect others and their emotions. Practising self-awareness will help you improve your emotional intelligence and become a better leader. It has countless benefits for your personal development!
Right now I’m talking more about the internal benefits of practicing self-awareness, about understanding your limits, your emotions and how you should handle what’s going on.
How can you practice it? Meditate, reflect and notice patterns in your behaviour. Dig deeper into your behaviour to see why you are reacting the way you are, why you feel a certain way, etc. There are lots of resources online where you can learn more how to make this behaviour second-nature.
11. Create rules around reading the news
And finally, number 11 – which is limiting your news intake. News tend to be very negative and sensationalist these days – and while it’s important to know what’s going on and being realistic about this virus and its impact on our world, it’s also important to create rules around how you consume that information.
Constant negativity isn’t healthy, so limit your news intake to a couple of times a day and try not to check them first thing in the morning. Practice self-awareness and figure out a system that works best for you!
So there you have it, that was a lot, but all of these practices are really powerful!
I hope these are helpful and I’m sending you love and strength.
Let me know what you’re already practising in the comments and what you will start doing!