During any difficulty you may experience in life it is important to take care of your mind as well as your body. It’s important to remember that this situation is temporary, and these feelings will pass; but in the meantime what steps can you take to keep on top of your mental well-being and maintain a positive mindset while we are all riding out the storm at home?
Here, our Head Mindset Coach, Ash Lawrence, gives 7 tips to help keep you sane during lockdown! Make sure you practice them every day:
Life as we know it has suddenly changed and so for most of us our normal daily routine has been completely disrupted. How can we adapt to this and create positive goals and a new routine?
If you are working from home try and set your alarm for the usual time. Get up, get washed and dressed as normal, and work for the same number of hours as you would if you were still at the office.
It might be tempting to have a bit of a lie-in, switch the laptop on at lunchtime, and tap away until the small hours, all without changing out of your dressing gown. But in order to stay productive and positive it is important that we maintain structure in our daily lives.
Even if you are not working from home, it is important to stick to some sort of routine in order to prevent lying on the sofa in front of the TV in your pants for days on end. You can maintain a positive mindset by writing a daily plan and schedule in things such as cleaning, TV, reading and exercising. I would also recommend setting certain times to look at social media or watch the news instead of watching and listening all day; an overload of media can be counterproductive for someone who is maybe struggling with a lot of worry or anxiety – keep informed of course, but balance that with relaxation, work, and an adapted daily routine in order to keep everything in perspective.
With that in mind, sticking to a regular sleep pattern is important too, whether you are working from home or not it is important to keep regular hours and to stay well rested – both will be a huge benefit to your mental health.
2- Learn A New Skill
Maybe you have a hobby that you normally struggle to find the time for, and now are going to take the opportunity to really indulge – that’s great if it is an indoor pursuit, but if your passions include team sports or other group activities you might feel that despite having a lot of free time on your hands, you can’t do the things you love. It would be easy to feel down about this and to allow yourself to dwell on it. However, what is to stop you developing a new skill? Learning something new is a well-known tool in improving mental health and is great for building positivity and self-esteem.
There’s no better time to learn a new language, art or craft, or musical instrument – and given the technological age we are living in, there’s no excuse either; online tutorials on just about anything you can think of are literally just a click away! And while we’re on the subject of technological advances, have you heard of Zoom? It’s been around since 2011, but has had a recent upsurge in popularity since the coronavirus hit when schools and companies adopted the platform in order to hold conferences, webinars, and lessons – with fitness instructors in particular using it as a way to continue teaching classes from home. Which brings me nicely to tip number 3…
We all know that physical activity is a great mood lifter and is key to staying mentally healthy and positive. Even those who are older or not incredibly physically fit can participate in some sort of exercise; whether that be the online classes on offer on platforms such as Zoom or other platforms at the moment, or a walk or jog outside. Maybe the kids have a trampoline in the garden that you can utilise, or take a look at any of the many youtube videos that show you how to use everyday objects to work out at home.
Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment; it relieves tension and stress and boosts physical and mental energy thanks to the release of endorphins and other feel-good chemicals such as serotonin and oxytocin. If you are able to work-out in the garden or outside you’ll benefit from breathing in the fresh air and get an extra boost from the sunlight, but if not, any exercise is better than none. Make exercise part of your daily routine – ideally first thing in the morning, to start your day off in a positive frame of mind that will continue throughout the day.
4- Engage With Others
Obviously at the moment we can’t meet up with friends or colleagues in person, but don’t let that stop you from engaging with other people. Isolation and loneliness isn’t good for anyone’s mindset; we are social creatures and function best when we are able to socialise and interact with others. Thanks, again, to technology and the advent of social media, group chats and video links as well as the good old telephone, means we are better equipped than ever to stay in touch with those around us – even if we are stuck indoors.
5- It’s Not All About You
Using this time to think about the needs of others is actually about you – your positivity that is! If you are someone who tends to overthink things, if you have too much time to yourself, why not use this time to concentrate on how you can safely help others? Are there any volunteer programmes running in your area, either through local care homes or charities that support the elderly or vulnerable? Maybe you are able to help get essential supplies to those less fortunate, or shop for an at-risk neighbour? Do you have a qualification or skill you can share with others – perhaps by creating and uploading your own online tutorials?
Thinking about the needs of others will benefit yourself as well as them; often people find that keeping themselves busy and occupied keeps their mind focused, and that being productive means they aren’t letting feelings of worry take over their brain, putting them into a negative mindset.
6- Appreciate The Small Things
This one is obvious when you think about it, but is rarely something we consciously do. Now is the time. Perhaps you’re used to working long hours out of the house away from the kids, but now you have the time to really take in what they’re learning at school, or you are able to witness your toddler experience something for the first time. Maybe family meals are normally a rarity, but now you are all going to make an effort to sit and eat together. Appreciate spending time in your family’s company…switch the TV off and have a conversation or play a game.
And what if you are someone who lives alone? Spend more time on the phone with friends, sit in the garden if you can and appreciate your surroundings, feel the world slow down and breathe, appreciate your good health and the fact that you are alive. Taking some time to think of the things we are grateful for will fill our minds with positivity even in the most testing of times. The world is full of blessings and now, more than ever, we have the time to recognise those and hold them close to us.
7- Look For The Good In Others
That’s been quite difficult in recent times with certain stories pouring out during this lockdown period, but if you spend your time thinking bitter and negative thoughts it is only you that will suffer – the people who have gone home with their car boots full of toilet roll and baked beans aren’t affected by what you think. However hard it may seem at times, it is always better for our own positive mindset to look for the good in others rather than always looking for the worst.
Focus not on those who appear selfish but on those who are supporting and helping others; maybe some of those who appear to be loading their trolleys in the supermarkets are shopping for the elderly or a soup kitchen. Think of those who work in the health services at the moment, or those who are essential workers and are keeping the country going. Think of all those who are spreading messages of positivity and are trying to cultivate an ‘all in this together’ attitude – these thoughts will foster trust in others and a positive mindset that even in difficult times we can always find a light, but sometimes it has to start within ourselves.
Ash Lawrence has a PhD in Business and Sports Psychology and Philosophy. He specialises in Mindset re-programming for life success and outside of supporting the Street Soccer Foundation he works with numerous professional footballers both in the Premier League and EFL and a number of elite sportsmen and women across a variety of other sports.