Looking After Your Mental Health During Tiered Times
Where Do We Start?!
We're sure that you are all the last people that need reminding about this, but the pandemic sucks! F*** COVID amiright?! 9 months ago we all probably thought that this was going to be over by the summer. Instead, we've been in and out of restrictions, not being able to see family and friends, always feeling on-edge over the next Government announcement. And of course, living in a period like this makes it a little harder to look after your mental health, especially during these tiered times. We all have questions like:
- When will I be returning to work?
- If you are already at work, when will more people start to filter in?
- Will it be safe?
- What about public transport?
- How many times will they change the rules?
- How do I keep my family safe?
- Can I go back to the gym?
- Will the gym be safe?
What This Does to Our Mental Health
These questions (and more) can send our minds racing, and feelings of worry and anxiety can creep in, which can affect our mental health. What’s more, you will even start to doubt yourself and ask yourself, am I overthinking? Am I being silly? I can’t believe that I’m thinking like this. We all feel that we shouldn’t be experiencing these feelings, that we should be feeling great 100% of the time. But we rarely acknowledge that these feelings (especially now) are very normal. It is very normal to care, it’s normal to worry, and it’s normal to want to feel safe. When our routines are interrupted, things may feel like they are completely out of place, as we are creatures of habit we subconsciously want to get back into that routine. So it’s OK not to feel OK. It’s completely normal. What we can do though, is implement tricks and techniques to help us manage those feelings a bit better.
How Our Brains Work
Our brains have a large task in keeping our bodies running 24/7. It keeps our organs running and is responsible for regulating everything from hormone levels, to energy levels, healing, muscle messaging etc. But our brains are also under a lot of mental stress. In normal acute scenarios of stress, our brain can handle those feelings, think of it as a prioritising machine. If it detects feelings of stress, it will direct its power to sorting out that specific problem, by either secreting more of a specific hormone like adrenaline to help you cope. This does mean that the other processes don’t get the attention that they are used to, but as we mentioned earlier, if this is just a small, specific scenario, our bodies can handle it. However, extended feelings of anxiety can take a toll on our bodies as your brain will be consistently trying to manage those feelings for an extended period. That’s the reason why some of us may not feel quite ourselves but we can’t explain why. These feelings are completely normal, but are a big indicator that pressure on our mental health can manifest itself physically.
So we need to be able to manage these feelings to get our mental health back on track. And it just so happens that working on our physical health can positively build resilience to our mental health.
Keeping That Balance Through Mindfulness
"Mindfulness" is a word that we hear all the time. Some have embraced it as the tool to manage their mental health, whilst others may be put off by the idea of meditating like a monk in the mountains of Tibet! But mindfulness is really useful (sometimes scarily so!!) and it doesn't necessarily have to be centred around meditation. It can be focusing on small moments in our everyday lives to be mindful, like:
- Waiting for the kettle to boil
- Peeling a satsuma (there's a really good podcast on this!! Check it out here)
- Brushing your teeth (again, another great podcast on that here)
This is known as Everyday Mindfulness. Focusing on how our bodies feel during these everyday tasks. From here, you can set yourself mindfulness goals which get a bit more challenging, but really help in the long run.
What Relaxes You?
It doesn't hurt to do things that we know help us to get into that relaxed state of mind. It could be anything:
- Scented candles
- A long warm bath,
- Listening to some relaxing jams
- Or even all of the above!
Whatever it is, our brains are always looking forward to the things we enjoy, so who are we to say no, right? Just be sure to try and avoid stimulants such as excessive alcohol consumption as research has shown that it can be damaging to our mental health.
Be Together, Even When You're Not
The restrictions we're facing may mean that we have not seen family members in a very, very long time. We miss them, and a hug is the first thing we want to give them!! But social distancing, and wanting to keep them safe, means for now we will have to find other ways to let our loved ones know we're thinking of them. Video calls are the first thing we all have probably tried. We get a big sigh of relief when we see our family safe and well, especially now. And of course, online family games are a great way to pass the time. Just be sure you let the competitive family members win to avoid those family arguments!! Phone calls and texts are also a good way to let someone know that you're thinking of them.
Look After Yourself, Inside and Out
In some of our previous blog posts, we've explained how important diet, exercise and sleep are to our to our physical and mental health. If our physical health slips, it can be cause of low energy levels in females, takes a toll on our mental health, and vice versa. For the nitty-gritty on how to improve these, be sure to check out our previous posts, but to give you a bitesized chunk of it:
- Try to keep a routine of exercise, even if it's a quick blast in your room. It will help to release those endorphins to help us feel good
- Sleep helps our bodies and minds to recover, so try to get your 7-8 hours a day. Avoid stimulants later on in the day
- Variety is the spice of life. Be sure to have variation in your diet to get those antioxidants and other useful goodness into your body. (A jrny Energy Shake can help with that too!)
At jrny, we are made up of a team of Sports Scientists and Registered Nutritionists. We want to make sure that we’re not just putting up the pseudo-science you’d see on other sites. If any of our staff put anything on our blog that relates to your health, you can bet that it is backed by evidence-based science! It always will be. That’s our commitment to you.