Maintaining mental health is a challenge at the best of times; but the COVID-19 pandemic is causing an even greater test to our wellbeing. I have put together some useful ways to help cope during this time and actually learn to embrace this crazy situation!
1. A good routine for your mental health
When I hear the word ‘routine’ it usually makes me think of some boring, repetitive lifestyle that I would absolutely want to avoid. But during a pandemic, a routine can become your best friend and can actually be quite fun.
The way to set up your own routine is by giving yourself a to-do list every day. For example, cleaning, doing some Uni work, cooking, watching TV, going out for a walk or calling a loved one. The more you structure your day around these activities, the more your mind will learn to relax and focus on the tasks at hand. I’ve found that what works best for me is to work during the day. Then, when it comes to the evening, I put my laptop away and focus on leisure activities like watching a film or listening to some music. This should help to maintain a good work/play lifestyle where you continue to appreciate leisure activities.
Most people have come across mindfulness at some point in their life, yet few people tend to practice it daily. I have discovered the benefits of using this mental health technique in my own life. It keeps me from worrying about the uncertainties of the Coronavirus.
Mindfulness is a mental state which is achieved by focusing your attention on your senses, thoughts and bodily sensations in order to become fully present. A simple mindfulness activity that I have brought into my daily routine is a tea drinking ceremony. This involves making a hot tea of your choosing (my favourite is calming chamomile) and focusing your full attention on the sensations of the drinking act. Draw focus to your hands feeling the heat of the mug. Watch the steam evaporate slowly and then disappear. Smell and identify the subtle, herbal fragrances and taste the different fruity notes of the tea. Like with anything, the more you practice mindfulness, the better you will become and the more relaxed you will feel.
3. Cooking and Baking
If there has been anything positive to have come from this experience it would be my new-found love for cooking and baking. So far since the lockdown, I have learned how to make many delicious meals from scratch, including chicken balti, paprika goulash, and Thai green curry to name a few. There’s something quite satisfying about finding a recipe online or in a cookbook and making something delicious using your own hands. In fact, this is another way to practice mindfulness.
Before I began trying out new recipes, I was afraid of the cost of all the ingredients. But I have found that once you build up an infantry of spices and everyday essentials, the cooking becomes cheaper over time. In the long run you’ll probably save money! Cooking and baking really does chill me out. The sensory nature of tasting and smelling all the different ingredients is sure to calm your nerves.
4. Learn a new skill
Being in lockdown puts your brain at risk of boredom and disuse, so it’s good to find a way to keep yourself mentally stimulated. The best way to do this is to learn a new skill or pursue a new hobby. I have always loved learning languages, so a couple of weeks ago I decided to learn Portuguese and improve on my existing knowledge of Spanish. I’ve already seen an improvement in my mental wellbeing. The buzz I get from learning about language and culture gets me excited to travel when life returns to normal. Whether it’s learning to beatbox, or doing an online origami class; there has never been a better time to learn a new skill. You’ll be sure to find a wealth of knowledge and interesting content on YouTube and other sites.
I hope these 4 tips have helped to spark your imagination in some way and given you some ideas to deal with the mental health issues this pandemic is causing. Although I haven’t mentioned it in these tips, exercise is essential to your wellbeing. Make sure you get some fresh air, work on your yoga techniques and hopscotch your way into better health and fitness. This will all be over before we know it, so use the time wisely!