On Saturday 31st October 2020, we gazed at our television screens eagerly awaiting the latest COVID-19 Governmental update.
There had been rumblings and speculation throughout the day, of what this next update would bring, but as we listened to the Prime Minister delivering the news of a second national lockdown, there was still an element of shock that we were going back to a place that we had all hoped to avoid.
Does the second lockdown change the way you feel?
This latest news has unsurprisingly evoked an array of emotions across the nation, with many of us experiencing feelings of uncertainty and fear creeping back into our thoughts.
There are so many aspects to this pandemic that could trigger these feelings, from the fear of our loved ones or ourselves actually contracting COVID-19, to job market uncertainty an financial stresses or the isolation and loneliness that comes with restrictions of social interaction.
The implications of all these factors can have a major impact on our mental health. Mentalhealth.gov describes our mental health as:
“our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices”.
What can you do to stay positive during uncertainty?
When our mental health is impaired, it may cause feelings of anxiousness, hopelessness, low moods, or irritability and impact our sleep and day to day ability to cope.
If you are struggling it is important to consult a medical professional, such as your GP straight away. However, there are also many things we can do to help to cope with these feelings, to make yourself feel better and in turn even help others too!
One approach I try to adopt as much as possible is mindfulness. Mindfulness is defined by the mental health charity Mind as a technique you can learn which involves making a special effort to notice what’s happening in the present moment (in your mind, body and surroundings), without judging anything. It has roots in Buddhism and meditation (quietening your mind and putting yourself into a state of calmness and still), but you don’t have to be spiritual or have any particular beliefs to give it a try.
I found mindfulness a few years ago whilst undergoing a difficult period in my own life and in discovering this and educating myself, I have seen a dramatic difference with how I perceive the world.
The key principle of mindfulness is to focus on what is happening in the present moment, rather than speculation about the future, or replaying events of the past, which can cause unnecessary anxiety and upset.
Here are some ideas which I use regularly, to help me when life feels overwhelming:
- Breathe! Yes, I know it sounds a little odd and is something we absolutely take for granted, but once you learn to control your breath and focus upon this, with no distractions or interrupting thoughts, you will enter a state of calm. Try taking a large, slow inhale of breath, and hold for 5 seconds. Then release your breath, counting to 5. Repeat this 5 times. This is a great exercise to practice at any time but try it when you are feeling stressed/ anxious for maximum impact.
- Meditate! This is an extension of the breathing exercise above and is taking the time to focus on your breathing and your body and senses. Helping to slow down your racing thoughts, negative self-chatter and paying attention to what you are experiencing in any given moment. There are some brilliant resources online, such as guided meditations to get you started on your journey to zen.
- This may be as simple as having a walk and paying attention to your surroundings, feeling the wind blowing through your hair or feeling the sensation of the rain falling on your skin. Or even something a little more vigorous, such as boxing training, which is my personal favourite. I find it to be fast paced and require complete concentration, so that I can only focus on what I am doing in at that point in time. Completely mindful and releasing lots of fantastic feel good chemicals also!
- A guaranteed mood fixer for me, is nature! When life is becoming overwhelming and I can’t shake a negative state I like to head for the hills. Getting away from technology (social media and the news in particular!) and being surrounded by trees, with my dog by my side really does help me to reconnect with the present moment and recharge.
With many of us working from home in the coming weeks, try and use this opportunity to implement some mindful activity into your day. Even making a small, but consistent commitment to yourself in this way will have a positive impact on your mental health and overall wellbeing.
We’re working at full steam and ready to help with all of your onboarding and recruitment needs so please do not hesitate to get in touch today!