In life, there are many things that cause us to feel stressed, under pressure, a little down, and really just not ourselves. In the last few years, we have had to deal with those very same pressures as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. This can all take a toll on your mental health.
People from all walks of life have experienced stress throughout the pandemic – from our frontline workers who are overwhelmed with work, young people who couldn’t go to school, family members who were/are separated from each other to the many we have sadly lost.
A study carried out by the Irish Medical Journal shows that the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated restrictions have affected approximately 1 in every 5 people here in Ireland. It has significantly increased stress, anxiety and depression.
It is completely understandable to feel scared, anxious or even helpless as we open up again to society. But take heart, for whatever situation you are in and where ever you are, you have the power to look after your mental health and wellbeing. We’re here today, to share some simple and easy ways for how you can care for your mental health.
Caring for your mental health:
Ever heard the saying ”I’m my own worst critic”? It is true for so many of us. You will beat yourself up for a mistake longer than you should and this can really have an effect on your mental health. Treat yourself with kindness and respect, look how far you’ve come already and take a minute to pat yourself on the back.
The critic may always be within, but there are ways to silence them. Try to make time for your favourite hobbies or projects, let yourself feel good and be free even if it’s enjoying a cuppa while completing a crossword puzzle.
Take care of your body
It’s no secret that your physical health can impact your mental health. When we eat sugary foods, we have a high and a very quick crash which can effect our productivity and our overall mood. Now, I am not saying you should only east fresh fruit, veg and drink water. That would be unrealistic.
Taking care of your body means:
- Eating a balanced diet
- Drinking plenty of water
- Getting enough sleep
- Avoiding excessive smoking and drinking
- Exercise – whether its a walk up the road, a hike or a swim – let’s get those bodies moving
Set realistic goals
There is nothing more daunting that a ‘to-do‘ list the length of your arm. While you know you will eventually complete each task, it can be hard to stay positive. This is why its important to set bite size achievable goals.
Take a task and break it into small but realistic goals. The sense of accomplishment each time you get to tick a box or cross it off the list is amazing. I do this one myself and it works. I always feel better after it.
‘Omm’ when you can
Meditation is an age-old tradition that has been around for thousands of years. I’ll admit, I myself was skeptical about this but it doesn’t mean you have sit with your legs crossed on top of a mountain and chant. Meditating, mindfulness and/or prayer involve so much more. You can try relaxation exercises such:
- Breath focus
- Tai Chi
- Sitting quietly to take in your surroundings
There has been extensive research on the benefits of meditation and it shows that it could help you feel calm and more relaxed. Even 15 minutes a day just for you can help.
Talk to someone you trust
Talking to someone or seeking help is and always will be a sign of strength!
Talking to someone you trust, whether it be a friend, family member of professional can help. A problem shared is a problem halved. For me, there is always a sigh of relief after talking through a problem or an issue. It allows you to talk it out, hear recommendations and face the issue with a fresh perspective.