As we approach the one-year anniversary of this new way of living, it’s becoming apparent that the coping strategies we might have initially employed (however fun they may have been to indulge in at the time) just won’t cut it in the long term if we want to maintain our health and well-being throughout the coming months.
So it’s more important now than ever that we understand how to look after ourselves and our mental health. But thankfully, there are so many super simple strategies that will help us to do this. So here’s a few quick wins to get you started.
Look, we’re all partial to a cuppa. Tea, coffee, whatever you’re having. There’s nothing like it, especially during an Irish winter. But if we over-do it, which is easily to do, we can build up an excess of caffeine in our systems. If this happens it can increase our stress and anxiety levels and it can impact our sleep. Resulting in low energy levels and unstable moods, and all-around low well-being and mental health.
Luckily, we don’t need to quit altogether. But we do need to be aware of how much is too much, and that can vary from person to person. If you’re finding it hard to cut out the extra cup or two per day, maybe look at substituting it with a herbal tea. There are so many delicious options nowadays, you’re sure to find a flavor that you like. Or you could try a turmeric late, or a glass of warm milk with some honey in it.
Take vitamin D
Most Irish people are deficient in vitamin D. It’s just a reality of living in this often beautiful but rarely sunny island. But a lack of Vitamin D has been connected to fatigue and depression. A daily dose could see an improvement of your mood, your energy levels and it can support your immune system. Vitamin D comes in liquid form, which you can add to a drink with a dropper, or you could take a tablet. Whichever you prefer.
Let your voice ring out!
Opening your throat can be a great way to relieve tension and pent-up emotions like frustration or anger. Sing from the top of your lungs, exhale forcefully through an open mouth or use lion’s breath, chant your favourite mantra. If you have no neighbours, try screaming! Even screaming into a pillow will have the same relaxing effect on the body!
Relax your body
Take the time to see where your body is holding tension. Relax your muscles, soften your belly, unclench your jaw. Breathe into your belly, expand your whole torso. A bath is also a lovely option to give permission to your muscles to switch off. Try yoga Nidra or guided meditations to help you with this.
Do some yoga
Of course yoga was going to make it on to the list! Yoga is a great tool in reducing stress, anxiety and depression so try to get some your practice in, even if it is shorter or less disciplined than it used to be. You might find you are drawn more toward slower or restorative styles at this time. Embrace it, every little helps!
Feel your feelings
Are you allowing yourself to feel your true emotions? Emotions have a funny way of finding their way to the surface even if it’s through irrational outbursts or behaviours. Giving yourself permission to be down, scared, anxious or angry may have the desired effect of diffusing more overwhelming feelings in the future. Acknowledge the emotion, allow yourself to be vulnerable if you need to, and when the emotion passes, move on.
Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not as productive as before
It’s an unfortunate reality that right now, we don’t have access to what we need to naturally restore our energy levels and keep us emotionally regulated. Some of us may be energised by social interaction, others by connecting with nature. But whatever you do to reset and recharge, the likelihood is you can’t do it right now due to lockdown restrictions.
Because of this, our nervous system picks up the slack and works overtime to help us stay emotionally regulated, and over time, this drains our energy. In spite of this, most of us are still working full-time and have to balance that with increased family commitments.
With all this considered, it’s simply impossible to be as productive as we were before. So it’s important to not beat yourself up. We need to prioritize what’s important, and cut yourself some slack if you’re not the all-singing, all-dancing whirlwind you remember yourself as.
Let’s face it, this is a frustrating time. Whether it’s other people flaunting the lockdown rules, the constantly changing measures, or handling of the pandemic by the government. There is literally no-end of things that can frustrate us. All of this brings us a feeling of not being in control. And that’s a difficult feeling to live with.
But instead of resisting this feeling, why not try to surrender to it?
Accept that other people are going about things in a different way to you and there is nothing you can do about it.
Accept that decisions are being made that greatly impact you, your family and your well-being.
These can be difficult things to accept, but acceptance is a powerful tool if we can master it.
And remember, surrender does not mean non-action, it simply means accepting the present moment for all it’s faults. Once we accept this, we can gain a much greater clarity on our situation and of what the next steps forward should be.
I know it might not feel like it right now, but this too shall pass!