Our focus should be on staying physically safe and healthy during the COVID-19 outbreak. But at the same time, we also need to keep our spirits up to combat stress and promote our mental health.
This is especially important now most of us are spending a lot more time in isolation. So we’ve done research into things we can all do to boost our mood and bring some positivity into our lives.
Bear in mind, that this does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please refer to this NHS guidance for help.
The NHS website also has lots of information to do with mental health and wellbeing. Here are the main takeaways to improve your mood:
- Start a gratitude journal - Write down three things you are grateful for each night before you go to bed
- Create a routine - To give yourself a sense of stability and control
- Focus on the things you can control - Rather than the things you can’t
- Set yourself some goals - Learn new skills, and build self-confidence
- Healthy eating - Don’t rely on unhealthy, sugary snacks
- Schedule in self-care / ‘me time’ - Don’t let the boundaries between work and home blur.
- Be kind to yourself - Treat yourself like you would a good friend
- Do an activity you enjoy - To encourage a sense of wellbeing
- Avoid unhealthy coping strategies - Like drinking alcohol, smoking or caffeine
- Do some volunteering - This will give you some perspective on your problems
- Connect with people - You can do this in isolation through a variety of tools. Or catch up with friends and family over the phone. Share any problems you are experiencing with someone close or a counsellor.
- Exercise - Is a good stress-buster and can help you get better sleep - as long as you don’t exercise too late in the evening
- Try and get seven to eight hours sleep a night - Check the NHS website for tips
- Try breathing exercises/meditation - This can help you to feel more relaxed
- Practice mindfulness - This can lead to a sense of wellbeing
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of engaging our senses and being in the present moment, instead of being on auto-pilot or drifting into ruminating thoughts. This gives us a fresh perspective and a new sense of appreciation.
How can I be more mindful on a daily basis?
Meditation is a good way to practice mindfulness, as you train your mind to observe your thoughts and feelings without judgement.
You could visit YouTube for free mediation videos, or you could look into getting a meditation apps such as Headspace or Calm:
Headspace - Available on iOS and Android. You can follow guided meditations by former monk and co-founder, Andy Puddicombe. Watch his 10 minute TED talk on mindfulness here. The app is free to download, with a free two-week trial. Then it’s £9.99 a month or £44.99 a year to subscribe and unlock further material.
Calm - Available on iOS and Android. Their tagline is ‘Sleep more. Stress less. Live Better”.
You get a free one week trial, followed by a subscription which costs £28.99 a year (no monthly option).
How to be more mindful throughout the day
Aside from meditation, there are other ways we can practise mindfulness as we go about our daily lives.
The mental health charity, Mind, has some advice about this. For example, you could try mindful eating. This means paying attention when eating a meal, by engaging all of your senses. Notice the smell, taste and texture of your food.
You could also exercise mindfully, by paying attention to your movements, the feel of your feet on the ground and the breeze against your skin. In fact, even activities like brushing your teeth, having a shower or washing the pots can turn into an opportunity to practice being in the present moment.
Also, there is a Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) course available online for called Be Mindful. It has helped thousands of people to improve their mental wellbeing. And it is approved by the NHS, costing £30 in total.
Best positive podcasts:
You may also find it interesting to listen to podcasts that involve discussions about mental health and useful coping strategies people have found along the way.
Happy Place - Hosted by radio presenter Fearne Cotton. She says “This is a place where I want to collect all things that make me happy - from joyful food to a clear mind”. In this podcast, she interviews different celebrities to get their views on life.
The Calmer You Podcast - Hosted by Chloe Brotheridge, author of The Anxiety Solution. Different guests appear on each episode and topics include working from home, mobile phone anxiety and listening to your intuition.
TED Radio Hour - Explores big questions with some of the world’s greatest intellectuals. A recent podcast called ‘The Opportunity of Boredom’ is very topical at the moment with lots of people finding they have more time on their hands.
The Mental Health Foundation - This website includes a range of podcasts for your wellbeing, including ones on nutrition, sleep and exercise.
Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.