Checking in on your mental health during a lockdown

England went into a third lockdown earlier this week and it’s been something that’s really hit me. I was looking forward to doing some of the things this month that I hadn’t done in the months gone by but this new strain of the virus has made everything much worse than it was. So as if the third lockdown wasn’t enough, due to the dire state the UK epidemic is currently in, I noticed feelings of anxiety creeping back in.

I’ve tried my best to keep a check on my own mental health during these months since the first lockdown and I knew that the winter months would be harder in general and also for everyone’s wellbeing. However, I don’t think anyone could’ve envisaged that things would be quite as bad as they reportedly are. As such, I wanted to share a post with some of the things I’m doing to check in on my own moods, feelings and mental health. I hope others – who may ot may not be experiencing the same feelings – find them helpful to read.

I started practising mindfulness (the practice of bringing yourself into the present moment and not worrying about the past or future) a few years ago when I had a particularly stressful time in my life where I felt anxious all the time, right from the moment I opened my eyes in the morning to when I eventually fell asleep at night. It was one of the hardest times I’ve ever been through and mindfulness really helped me. I’ve been trying to do it at least a few minutes of mindfulness a few times a week over the last few months. It really does help but I think I might need to increase my own frequency or the length of time I choose to take out for it now. If you’d like to try it for yourself, you can visit this site to get on your way.

Decrease your exposure to the news
I’m not entirely sure if this point will help everyone but the people in my circle I’ve spoken to are doing the same as me – not watching the news all the time. The rates that are covered in the news each day are alarming to say the least and I think watching the news means you’re exposed to hearing about the pandemic multiple times a day. This can then increase if you’re active on social media and are then seeing people talking about it there too. Become conscious about this as I’ve felt that it makes me feel worse. I’m now trying once again to not watch the news more than once day and bring down the amount of time I’m on Twitter specifically so that my brain doesn’t go into overdrive about the state of the country or the world right now, and give way to anxiety.

Understand how much something is affecting you
This is easier said than done but a good way of seeing your feelings “measured” is by taking a self-assessment – only if you know you won’t become obsessed with the result! There’s an NHS mood self-assessment you can take to determine how you feel and hopefully try to take the steps needed to bring about some less anxious moments or time during the lockdown period. You can find the site here.

Get some fresh air everyday – even if it’s raining
Yes, I know it’s winter and the weather can be a little rubbish out there but I find that heading out for a walk, even just around the block a couple of times, clears my head and helps me recharge a bit. If you have a park nearby, that’s even better. Fresh air is always a great thing and more so for a mind that has the tendency to go into overdrive. If you make a pact with yourself to ensure you head out for a walk for 15 minutes everyday, you could get yourself into a rather positive routine, even if you are working from home.

Treat yourself but make it a priority to eat healthy
It might sound boring when you’re at home all the time and want to eat all the time but there are unimaginable benefits to keeping to healthy eating during this time rather than binging on unhealthy things. It might feel great comfort eating but I guarantee you that you will feel tonnes better if you eat healthy and know that you’re giving your immune system the best chance it has at fighting of anything coming at it. Fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as various other foods, are fantastic to prioritise in your diet at this time. You can have unhealthy days or meals too but if you keep to eating healthy most of the time, you’ll have yourself to thank later on. Trust me! It’ll boost your mood too.

Write your feelings down
Journaling is something that is recommended to keep a hold of your mental health in encouragement of not bottling up feelings. However, during a pandemic, I’ve found that keeping a journal really isn’t for me. However, writing down thoughts and then throwing what I’ve written away after a few hours or days actually helps. To me, it feels like I’ve released my thoughts and they are no longer burdening me. Whereas in the form of a journal, it’s like I’m inviting myself to keep a record of feelings I don’t particularly want to revisit. Try either, whatever suits you, but you will find it helps.

Watch something easy & light-hearted
This is probably going to sound a bit odd but in the last few months I’ve watched some pretty heavy things on online platforms. This has been out of choice but I’ve noticed that I’ve also consciously tried to balance out feeling a little anxious or down and trying to divert those feelings by watching something light-hearted. For me, I love watching romances so I’ve opted for those and they have made me feel good in days I have felt my heart sinking. I think watching something too sad or emotionally dramatic wouldn’t really help me so much during those particularly “bad” days. I’ll share a list soon of the things I’ve watched that have left me with a positive feeling.

Talk it out
I’ve found talking and owning up to others that I feel anxious quite challenging, especially because those who know me well would probably perceive me as someone who picks herself up most of the time. And I am usually like that but during these months where the situation has felt out of control and very uncertain, I’ve felt that sinking feeling so much more. There’s no shame in it. And even if you talk to only a couple of people, make sure you do talk. It’s a worrying time for everyone and although we think an “end” might be coming, we still need to live through the weeks of lockdown. It’s perfectly OK to feel the way you do – don’t deny yourself that.

I hope the above personal points helped someone out there. Don’t forget that we are all in this and we will, one day soon, be out of this. It is temporary, no matter how long it’s felt.

Much love,
AT x

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