If you search Mental Wellbeing on the Queensland Government website, you’ll find a range of ways to strengthen your mental health in this time of extended social isolation.
Suggestions include going for a walk outside, calling a friend, working in the garden or listening to a new podcast.
Here are some other suggestions:
Have a routine. Routines help us get up in the morning. They make the time pass productively. Do set activities at set times even though it feels like your time is endless.
Put some physical activity into your day. Try this for starters: The Alphabet Exercise which strengthens your feet and ankles. You can do it in a chair. Rest one calf on your knee and put your foot out in front. Imagine you are writing the alphabet with your foot. You can do this with each foot. You will get more movement if you exercise with bare feet.
Give to others. Getting away from your problems can be very beneficial. Look for ways to use your skills and time for others. Perhaps you can knit. The Animal Rescue Craft Guild needs pouches for kangaroos and koalas. How about making a weekly call to a friend who lives alone?
Get creative. Creativity is a powerful tool to reduce anxiety and find a sense of control and purpose. Whether it’s sketching your dog or baking a cake, there are many ways to get creative. You don’t need to be an expert, just play around. Perhaps you have a hobby that you can take up again.
Limit your caffeine. It’s easy to have loads of tea and coffee when the days and nights are long. Too much caffeine can lead to anxiety and agitation. Note what you are having now and cut down by one or two cups. Switch to non-caffeine drinks after 2pm to help you sleep better.
At the end of each day, write a list of what you want to achieve tomorrow. Your list may only have one thing on it, but it will still give you a structure and a sense of accomplishment when it’s done. Don’t be ambitious. Start small. The Canadian author and psychologist Jordan Peterson calls this approach “clean your room”.
With social distancing, we are all missing touch, hugs especially. Hugs release oxytocin which calms the mind and body. Why not give yourself a hug? Fold your arms around yourself and hold on for as long as you want. Notice how your breathing slows down. Do this as often as you like.
Set up a relaxing routine before bed. Dim the lights in your room and read for 15 minutes. Put some lavender on your pillow. Do 20 slow breaths, counting down from 20 to zero. Use a cream and slowly massage your feet or hands. Approach this as an important time of self-care because you are worth it.
I hope these suggestions spark your imagination and help you and your loved ones stay mentally strong in this difficult time.
Kendall Morton is Director of Home Care Assistance Sunshine Coast to Wide Bay. Call 5491 6888 or email email@example.com