Although lockdown restrictions are beginning to ease across the UK, it’s going to be some time before we return to some semblance of our normal pre-coronavirus lives. There’s a lot of uncertainty around what the next few weeks or months might look like – with financial pressures likely to rise and the threat of a second wave looming over us, it’s a lot to handle.
It’s understandable, then, that so many people are struggling with their mental health at the moment. Whether you’re feeling anxious, unsure, lonely or sad, people across the country are dealing with heightened emotional stress as a result of the crisis.
With this in mind, it’s important that we find new ways to process and cope with these feelings to take care of our mental health during this tricky time. And that’s where self-care comes in.
As the mental health charity Mind explains on its website: “Self-care techniques and general lifestyle changes can help manage the symptoms of many mental health problems. They may also help prevent some problems from developing or getting worse.”
It’s important to note that if you’re really struggling with your mental health, and you feel that it’s disrupting your everyday life, you should always seek professional help.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to deal with your mental health on a day-to-day basis – including how to improve your wellbeing when you find yourself lagging – keep reading for five suggestions of simple self-care activities you can fit into your lunchbreak while you’re working from home to give yourself a midday boost.
1. Connect with a friend or family member
Connecting with other people – even virtually – not only helps you to feel more confident and valued – it can also help to give you a different perspective on things.
If you’re having a bad day – or something is particularly frustrating or upsetting you – talking things through with someone can help to lighten the load. Plus, admitting how you’re feeling can help someone else to feel less alone.
If you don’t fancy talking to someone you know, online support groups – such as Mind’s Elefriends support community – can be a great place to start and connect with other people.
2. Do an at-home workout
Research has repeatedly shown that exercise has the power to make us feel good. Thanks to a winning combination of neurotransmitters – endorphins, serotonin and norepinephrine – which are released when we push our bodies during exercise, working out has the potential to leave us with a feeling of euphoria often referred to as a “runners high”. In fact, studies have even shown that running can help us to process emotions.
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With this in mind, fitting in an at-home workout or quick run during your lunchbreak is a sure fire way to give yourself a quick boost. The best bit? If you’re working from home, you’ll have your shower waiting for you afterwards.
3. Get crafty
If you’re looking for a way to take your mind off of things for a bit, getting creative is a great place to start. Of course it won’t work for everyone – if something is particularly troubling you, it can be hard to focus on anything else – but give it a go.
There’s something incredibly therapeutic and calming about sitting down and creating something, whether that’s a watercolour painting or a line drawing. We’re not talking fancy here – a couple of doodles will do – just try to give yourself (and your brain) a chance to switch off and experiment with colours and shapes for a bit.
4. Make yourself a fancy lunch
If you’re working from home for the time being, why not make the most of your kitchen during your lunch break? Treating yourself to a tasty lunch is a nice way to give yourself a little boost at lunchtime, not to mention that cooking in itself can be incredibly relaxing.
Why not give mindful eating a go while you’re at it?
5. Sit still
This may sound like a bit of a non-activity, but stick with us for a second.
At a time when we’re using technology more than ever, and when social media is particularly full of terrifying news updates and depressing figures, it’s more important than ever to take the time to check in with yourself.
For many people, self-care is simply about sitting back and understanding how you’re really feeling, and treating yourself with compassion (all too often, we’re talking to ourselves in a negative way). By sitting still – and getting rid of distractions – we can begin to identify any negative thought patterns that might be making our mental health worse in the first place.
As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and women’s issues. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time. You can find her on Twitter at @laurenjanegeall.
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