Monitor your feelings
It is normal to feel a wide range of emotions during this time however it is important to monitor your feelings. Get into the habit on a daily basis to take a moment to check in with yourself. On a scale of 1 – 10 decide how you’re really feeling and mark it down in a diary. If you notice that you’re feeling on the lower end of the scale for several consecutive days in a row, be mindful that talking to someone about it could be beneficial.
Know that your experience is unique
While it does sometimes feel like “we’re all in this together”, it is important to know that your personal experience and reaction to another lockdown is unique. But that doesn’t mean you have to feel alone. While everyone responds to circumstances in different ways, you are allowed to go through the processes of emotions and shouldn’t be expected to just shrug things off. You could be living in the same household as someone and be feeling completely different to them and that’s ok. You are not expected to compare your emotional response to others and therefore if you are personally struggling, it is important to seek help.
Ensure you are sleeping well
Sleep in my opinion can be highly underrated because it provides a number of physical and mental benefits but often doesnt get the attention or care it deserves. Sleep allows our brains to process information and our bodies to repair themselves, but if we are sleep deprived it can negatively affect our mental abilities and emotional state. Lack of sleep can render a person to feel more impatient or prone to mood swings, plus also can compromise decision-making processes and creativity. Getting more sleep isn’t always an easy feat so ensure that you do everything in your power to set yourself up for it. Start practicing good sleep hygiene which involves some rules around what you do in your bedroom and how your bedroom is set up. That might mean removing screens such as iPads and mobile phones from the room right before bed, ensuring the room is dark or investing in quality linen, practising some meditation or listening to soothing music before bed.
Prioritise positive social connections
From an evolutionary perspective, humans are hardwired with a need to socialise because it can keep our minds agile and improves cognitive function. Research shows that having a strong network of support or strong community bonds fosters both emotional and physical health. However, keeping those social connections alive right now can feel extremely difficult. Instead, we could be finding ourselves stuck in a cycle of scrolling on social media which can sometimes make our moods feel worse. Instead of using social media, try to prioritise positive social connections that can help you to have deeper conversations. That might mean a group chat on FaceTime with your family, a socially distanced run with a friend or talking on the phone to someone.
Get a check-in buddy
Talk to friends and family members about putting in place ‘check-in buddies’ for each person so you’ve got someone to lean on whenever you need it. This will allow you to be honest about your feelings whilst being able to support someone in return. Set up regular virtual coffees or virtual gym sessions with your check-in buddy to make sure it’s a regular connection that provides a mutually beneficial outcome.
Consult online resources
There are a number of resources you can look to in order to help you get through a difficult time:
Lysn offers an online learning portal full of educational videos and articles, along with self-help tracking and assessment tools.
Beyond Blue has a ‘Check in’ App that was designed in consultation with young people to help take the fear out of having a conversation with a friend who might be struggling.
Conversations Matter is a practical online resource to support safe and effective community discussions about suicide.
Black Dog Institute has an online resources and tests to support those looking for specific areas of help.
Seek professional help
Just like you’d consult a GP or personal trainer for your physical health and fitness, seeking an expert’s advice for mental health is simply like a trainer for your mind. Remember that it’s a work in progress which at a time like this, can definitely require an expert’s help! There are a number of services you can reach out to virtual support (especially if you’re feeling concerned or can’t currently access in-person support). Places like Beyond Blue and Lifeline offer free over the phone counselling, and services like Lysn offer appointments with a psychologist from the comfort of your own home. Lysn provides access to psychologists via video chat, which can be accessed from the comfort of your own home for a fee. Lysn can also help you find your best-fit online psychologist through a simple, sophisticated matching questionnaire.
In a world where we are so online – we can shop from a click of our keypads, commit to memberships, sign up to social media, open bank accounts - within minutes on our devices – now we need to use our devices to look after ourselves by using it for services to help better us, limiting screen time for real life connections and conversations instead, and by accepting those around us who are suffering with mental health, welcoming them and encouraging their narrative to be talked about.