Welcome to our second blog in our ‘Surviving the Pandemic’ blog series.  Today, we focus on maintaining your mental wellbeing during this time of heightened anxiety and isolation.  In this blog we will provide you with mental wellness tips, meditation techniques and access to the resources I use to help me de-stress and meditate.

This blog may help you if:

  • If you’re feeling claustrophobic or trapped
  • Methods to handle your anxiety
  • Anxiety or overwhelm from the news, statistics and information
  • You need methods/resources to help you meditate and relax
  • How to alleviate feelings of Claustrophobic or being Trapped

Feeling Claustrophobic?

There are multiple simple methods you can take if you’re feeling claustrophobic in your isolation that may help alleviate symptoms and reduce your anxiety levels.  One option is to open the windows throughout your property and create a draw of fresh air (I do this daily).  It will help clear any ‘stagnant’ air in the house and replace it with cool flowing air.

It will also allow you take in the sounds, smells and sights of the outside world.  Perch yourself on the doorstep or under and open window and allow your thoughts to break through the boundary of your house and roam.  It will help you mentally escape the isolation and reduce your anxieties of feeling trapped.

Ever tried Skychology?

Get comfortable and focus on the sky.  Try looking at the sky out of the window or from your doorstep, or better yet, go into your garden or onto your doorstep and look up.  This may help give you a sense of space.  If you use the moment to practice meditation, it will also allow to escape time for a while if you feel as though you need a break from a certain task that has become repetitive, a person, or a conversation you have had for the 40th time this week.

Just deciding to look up at the sky and take an active approach to improve your wellbeing will shift your perspective of the situation and will help bring peace.  Whatever the weather, night or day, focus on the textures, colours and sensations you feel when focusing on the great expanse above.

Need a bit of personal space?

Personal space is supposed to be a necessity, not a luxury!  Individuality, and time alone is crucial for your mental health in this time (and relationships I might add).  I suggest it’s time to use rooms you rarely visit and create a space for yourself.  Not only does it give you a change of scenery, but it’s important for your mental wellness and personal space.  Being ‘joint-at-the-hip’ with a partner is lovely, but too much of a good thing, is unfortunately bad.  Having your own space to escape, with a flow of fresh air, in a room that’s all yours for while will help you feel LESS BILL MURRAY in Groundhog Day and MORE YOU every day! it’s give you a chance to step away, and sometimes that’s all that’s needed to gain a bit of calm and be rid of that anxiety.

5 Ways to Handle Your Anxiety During Coronavirus Lockdown

Social MediaStay Connected with Friends and Share Thoughts

Maintaining relationships with friends you can’t see during this period doesn’t have to be difficult.  Healthy relationships are integral to supporting overall mental wellbeing, so think about staying in touch with friends and family members over the phone or using facetiming methods – it is important to talk to someone and hear their voice.  It might also be a good time to connect with some good friends you haven’t spoken to in a while.  I have done it and it has been great!

It is also important to talk about any worries and concerns with close friends and family, so you don’t internalise them and allow yourself to dwell.  Chances are, they are feeling anxious too – you will help yourself and may just help them through this time as well.  If you have nobody you feel you can talk to, here’s a link to a great charity: MIND .  They are only a phone call away.

Look after your body through Exercise & Nutrition

This isn’t the time to fall into unhealthy routines that’ll be hard to break once this is over.  At times like these it can be easy, in the first couple of weeks of isolation my sleep suffered from anxiety, thus affecting my productivity and energy levels the following days.  Exercise, good nutrition and finding a basic routine helped me through this.

You are still allowed to leave your house, alone or with members of your household, for 1 form of exercise a day.  Utilise this opportunity fully and spend time in the fresh air and outdoors.  If you feel able, try a fast-paced long walk or even a run to work up a sweat and ‘blow away the cobwebs’ from being indoors.  You can also have a great workout a home with a little bit of space and a great YouTube video.

Getting the right nutrition is essential for mental wellness.  A diet high in foods listed below have shown to improve the overall wellbeing of individuals, particularly if they eat a large of vegetables on a daily basis.  It has been shown that a clean diet, such as Paleo, has improved has sustained improvements to mental wellness, including a reduction in the severity of depression.  I can also vouch for the improvement in mental health once I turned away from the processed foods and adopted a paleo lifestyle, for more info, click the link What is Paleo.

  • Organic vegetables (not corn because that’s a grain)
  • Seafood and Fish
  • Grass-fed and finished meat (where practicable)
  • Free-Range Eggs
  • Nuts and Seeds (not peanuts as they are legumes)
  • Herbs and Spices
  • Fruits
  • Healthy oils (coconut, olive oil, avocado, flax, ghee

However, the opposite is also true, that eating high levels of unhealthy saturated fats, refined sugars and carbohydrates, and processed foods is linked to a decrease in mental wellness.  When wanting to avoid the most severe depression and anxiety, nutrition, practised simultaneously with the other methods mentioned in this blog are critical for maintaining mental wellness during normal times, therefore especially during this Coronavirus Pandemic Isolation.

COVID-19Handling Information, Statistics and Facts about Coronavirus

We are being overloaded with statistics, from various sources about the COVID-19.  Not only that, but we are being overrun by opinions and conspiracy theories on the internet and social media.

The bottom line is find a credible source, such as GOV.UK or NHS and only fact check that from information you receive in your news feed.  Chances are, even the media will show different figures – often they use private sources and of course are always fighting for the ‘you heard it here first’ bragging rights.  Bear in mind, there will be inaccurate information circulating every moment.  Therefore, the best way to cope, might just be to tune it out all together or to allocate a time slot every day, for example the 6pm news, where you will allow yourself to keep informed.  It is important too NOT get attached or stressed about the figures.

Instead of watching the news or trolling through social media looking for information, bury yourself in a book for a few hours, perhaps LINK TO BOOK, and forget about the flood of figures.  It’s for your own health and wellbeing and might be a good opportunity for education.  For example, the affects sugar has on your body? You might be surprised! Check it out HERE

Staying Present and MindfulFocus On The Now (Stay Present)

Focusing on the present and not worrying about the future is also important to manage your anxiety and stress.  You can achieve this by switching off notifications for a few hours every day that connect you to the opinions of the world around you.  You can also practice meditation.  If you need help mediating, try LSW Mind Cards.  They are great for a calm, and guided mediation.  If you are unsure how to being meditation, try these simple steps to being with:

  • Remove all distractions from your vicinity, including any electronic devices. Find a comfortable chair or lie down in a comfortable position.
  • Focus on your breathing. Inhale for 10 counts, then hold your breath for 10 counts. Exhale for 10 counts. Repeat five times. Put all your attention into every breath, allow your thoughts to disappear with every breath.
  • Inhale and tense your body. Pause, relax, and exhale. Repeat five times.
  • Notice your breath and body. If a body part feels tight, consciously relax it.
  • When a thought comes up, slowly return your focus to just your breathing. If you fall sleep, just let it happen and have a nap.

Woman Asleep, SleepPractice Good Sleep Hygiene/Quality

Sleep is important for physical and mental health.  Try to maintain regular sleep patterns, such as avoiding screens for at least 2 hours prior to bed (read that book you have always wanted to read instead), significantly cut back on caffeine, and create a restful environment.

I personally suffer from insomnia during particularly stressful periods, such as now.  Therefore, it is important for me, and you to keep healthy sleeping habits.  One method I use is to keep a notebook and pen beside my bed.  I write down any thoughts, for example things I need to do the next day and remove them from my head to quiet my mind and help me drift off to sleep without worry.

During the day, I make sure I exercise and work-up a sweat to burn off some energy from being stuck at home.  If I didn’t, I know I’d be too restless for a good sleep that night. Methods like these should help reduce your anxiety during this Coronavirus Lockdown.  It is important NOT to slip into unhealthy habits that are head to break.

To wrap up, it is important, now more than ever if you are suffering from anxiety to get it under control through healthy habits, and not allow the situation to intensify any mental illness.  This is an intense time, and it is hard to cope with all the information and the prospect of ‘what happens next?’.  But in truth, your mental wellbeing is more important.  Therefore, practise some of the habits suggested and focus on yourself.  And when this is all over, you will feel ready to get back to public life, whatever that might involve for you.

Stay Home, and Stay Safe

Alex York

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