At a time when we’re all doing our best to take care of our physical health and the health of others, it’s important not to neglect our mental health.
I wrote a blog two months ago now with some tips for taking care of your mental health whilst self isolating. It hasn’t aged very well, because lets face it, two months ago, none of us knew what our future selves were getting in to. But more importantly, I couldn’t believe it had been two months since I’d started staying at home as per Governent guidelines. “Two months? Surely not. Its flown, I must be coping really well” was my initial reaction. At least until I realised that was total rubbish. For most of us, it’s actually really hard. Its undeniable that a lot of aspects of my mental health have been impacted, lots of which I hadn’t anticipated. So, here’s an updated list of ways to take care of yourself, written with a little more experience, and more than a bit of hindsight.
Don’t worry that much about productivity
I looked back at my original post about being productive and laughed. Sure, we might have loads more time to do things in now, but my March self had no idea just how little motivation I’d have to get them done. Okay, so I’m almost done with my uni assignments now and I’m trying my best to keep up with work (it can actually be a great distraction) but that’s it. No novels have been written, no 5k has been run – the ukulele I promised I’d teach myself to play still sits, untouched, in a corner of my bedroom. And that’s completely okay. We might not realise it, but the constant, low-level of stress we’re all dealing with right now is exhausting. Sometimes it can be fun to feel busy but if, some days, all you do is get out of bed, you’re a hero.
Limit your news intake
This piece of advice actually stands, and I’ve managed to stick to it for the most part. The news app has been muted on my phone, I only watch updates once a day and I’ve learned to laugh at the dodgy Facebook articles feeding me obvious fake news. The thing is, I used to let these freak me out to the point that I’d be on the verge of a panic attack. And the funny thing? None of them turned out to be right. Hindsight is a gift, and it made me realise that half the things I was panicking about two months ago were so far off that I can no longer even remember them.
And on that note, try not to dwell too much on ‘the future’. There’s so much vague media speculation about strategies for easing lockdown, whether the government is doing the right thing, how long social distancing will stay in place and on and on and on. There’s absolutely zero point trying to keep up with it all, because most of it is total rubbish anyway. It’s difficult, but try to take each day as it comes. For most of us, we’re safe, and we’re doing the right thing by following the rules. Trust that, and be patient.
Remember that its okay to feel down
Feeling less motivated lately? More irritable? Sleepier? Miserable? Yep, me too. There’s so much emphasis on staying positive and being up to your eyeballs in zoom quizzes and banana bread that we forget how tough this time actually is – on absolutely everyone. Staying home all the time and not being able to see your friends and family will take enough of a toll on your mental health as it is. And that’s before you even think about all the anxiety-inducing stuff going on outside. It’s really important to remember that if, 2 months in, you’re starting to get a bit sick of it, that’s totally okay. Normal, even. We can’t be positive and upbeat all the time.
It’s also really easy to feel guilty when you’re feeling down (which only makes you feel worse) because ‘so many people have it worse than you’. Okay, this might be true, and it really is a luxury for so many of us to have a home to stay in, to be able to work from home, to know exactly where our next meal is coming from. But even if you have all of these priveleges, it doesn’t make your feelings any less valid. And if you think you’re really struggling, reach out!! Chat to a friend, your parents or even one of these handy mental health helplines. You’re definitely not alone.
In the meantime, stay safe and check out some more of our blogs for a bit of light reading:
- How technology can maintain student communities.
- Caring less about body image.
- 4 Things I wish I’d known before I went to University.