5 ways to look after your mental health during lockdown

 

We are currently experiencing a collective traumatic experience which is incredibly overwhelming. Living through such uncertainty can bring up our darkest thoughts and fears. It is important to understand that this experience of uncertainty and anxiety will bring up past traumas and fears, it magnifies our worries and we may begin to regress. Regression happens as our unconscious attempts to take us back to times where we felt safe and protected. It is a defense mechanism that appears in response to stressful situations. We may find that our children have regressed developmentally or that we may be seeking solace in old songs, movies and books. These are all normal responses to the abnormal situation we find ourselves in. In an attempt to process this difficult time, it may help to try follow these steps to look after your mental health during lockdown.

 

  1. Manage your expectations

Understand the limitations you have now. This time may not bring out the master chef in you. Balancing life might feel overwhelming now, so understand your situation and the needs you have. A basic routine will help to manage your workload. There will be days where you have to be more flexible, allow yourself the freedom to understand and accept this. Set yourself weekly goals to keep up to date with deadlines.

 

  1. Find something creative to do daily

Creativity has been shown to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. Creativity can be expressed in many ways. Challenging yourself to journal, draw, photograph something can be a powerful cathartic experience. Cooking and gardening can be creative challenges. Use what you have to allow yourself to find joy in being creative. You will be surprised at how healing it can be!

 

  1. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness involves being present without judgement in the moment. Allow yourself to find moments of mindfulness throughout your day. A few minutes spent breathing in silence can help calm your mind and body. A mindful walk allows you to notice the beauty that surrounds you and can help shift your perspective. Mindfully eating a meal can be a great experience for the whole family. Focusing on being present in the moment can be a powerful way to connect to your thoughts and feelings. Be present with your children, use this time to notice their quirks and to witness their individuality.

 

  1. Move your body

Find ways to move your body in doing things you enjoy. Morning walks can be a great way to start your day and to establish a routine. Gentle stretching can ease your muscles and can be done between meetings. Playing with your pets can provide fun for the whole family. Dancing to your favourite songs is a fun way to move in a carefree way.

 

  1. Communicate

Being away from loved ones is difficult. Finding ways to communicate and connect with them can ease the longing you feel. Virtual visits are better than nothing. Video call your friends and record moments for those who are missing out by being away. Communicate the difficult feelings too. It’s important to find ways to speak about these feelings and fears. Remember that your mental health needs to be protected now more than ever. Psychologists are offering teletherapy now and this is a great way to manage these overwhelming thoughts and feelings.

 

Be kind to yourself and those around you. If you feel you are not coping, you can set up an appointment with Juliana on juliana@yourpsychologist.co.za.