In a time when positives seem hard to find, it isn’t surprising that many people’s mental health is suffering. There is no one solution to these complex and personal issues, but there are opportunities to reflect on the new and unexpected ways in which we are living, working and communicating, how this is affecting us, and what we could do differently.
I’ve actually seen more people walking, running and cycling in my local area since the lockdown, and with good reason. Not only does exercise have obvious physical benefits, but also mental ones. Running can help to relieve stress and blow away the mental cobwebs, especially if you’ve been working from home all day. A more calming walk or bike ride can help by providing you with a change of scenery and a chance to appreciate the world around us.
We have many ways of passing our time that are easy but ultimately unfulfilling. Most people will know the feeling of spending far too long watching videos or browsing social media, only to feel later that that time was wasted. Now might be a good time to think about the pastimes that you find fulfilling, and that make you feel good about yourself. When you do find something particularly enjoyable and worthwhile, it can be helpful to savour the moment. With so long spent at home, the days can begin to blur into one another, but trying to find an experience to savour, and look back on fondly, for every day can help to relieve the monotony, and help in deciding on the best ways of spending your free time.
Many people are now working from home for the first time and experiencing some unexpected challenges. Focus and communication with the rest of the team can be much harder whilst remote working, especially if there hasn’t been much time to adjust to new working methods. Taking regular breaks can help a lot with making sure that your working methods are productive and healthy. Communicating with your colleagues doesn’t come as naturally at a distance, but it can lessen feelings of isolation.
Escapism can sometimes feel like a guilty pleasure, but in a situation where our control is limited, it can be a good way of coping with adversity. Not all our methods of escapism are good for us in the long run, for example slipping into unhealthy habits around eating or drinking. However, stories and games can be powerful in helping us to forget our troubles. Whether reading, watching, listening, playing or creating, a dose of escapism is important in a situation like this.
Thanks to modern communications, quarantine no longer means a lack of contact with your friends or loved ones. Many people are finding this a good time to send that message or email they’ve always been meaning to send. With the advent of video calling, even face-to-face conversations are an option. It may not be quite the same as a real-life meeting, but it gives us an opportunity to maintain our friendships and relationships, as well as to get back in touch with people.
Finally, something that we may at first overlook. However well we get on with the people we live with, most of us are not used to spending such long periods in close proximity to them. It’s unavoidable for many people, but familiarity doesn’t have to breed contempt. Open and frank communication is essential for making sure that these relationships are still enriching our lives, rather than adding stress.
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