It can feel like every day brings more bad news – people are overwhelmed with all that’s going on with COVID-19, financial stresses, family concerns and the world seemingly going crazy.
A plethora of things to worry about, with the additional worry of trying not to worry.
So, how do we manage our mental health?
Emma Goldstraw from Total Health jokes that she could suggest green smoothies, walks on the beach and a good night’s sleep – but most of us already know that nutrition, movement, and sleep are important to our optimal health.
One of the more ‘everyday ways’ to help protect your mental health is by building a positive mindset, so when difficult and challenging things happen all the time, we are set up to cope and move through times like these (alongside being healthy, of course).
How can we change our mindset? Emma gave us a few top tips:
Consume positive media: Try and crowd out all that negativity by being selective. Follow those on social media platforms who emphasise the good in life. Limit the number of times you consume news each day, knowing all the bad things that happen in the world daily doesn’t stop them from happening.
Find the joy in each day: Look around you and find the little things in each day that make you smile – they are all around us. Look up or down and take in your surroundings. That flower, the smile from a stranger, the sun’s heat on your shoulders, the hug from your child, the tummy rubs with you cat… the simple things that bring joy are normally the free things in life, which is a bonus.
Turn your focus outwards: By focusing on others, you take the spotlight off yourself. Do something tangible to make someone else feel good and this will help you feel better about yourself. What meaningful things can you do to make your community better? What impact could you make by doing the things you love?
Pay attention: Be aware of the messages you are telling yourself. Most of our daily thoughts are negative, so catch yourself next time one pops into your head. “I’m not smart enough”, “I’m not pretty enough” etc – all those little messages can hold us back. Start taking note and put in the work to change these messages. Rather than criticising yourself when you look in the mirror, flip it around and change that message by telling yourself you look good.
Live in the moment: Really try to respond to life in the now. Stay present and be okay with what is happening for you now. If you are someone who tends to think they will be happy when…, can you reframe, and try to enjoy the process of getting to wherever you want to be? What if you never get there – will you then never be happy? Deciding to be happy with where you are now and choosing how you want to feel will lead to greater contentment.
Take care during these challenging times, go easy on yourself and be patient when making changes for yourself.
Please note, when I talk about mental health in this article, I’m not referring to diagnosed depression and anxiety. If you need help for more serious mental health concerns, please check this resource out as a starting point.