We find ourselves in difficult and unprecedented times. We are having to adjust quickly whilst being bombarded with negative and anxiety inducing news.  Whilst it is important to stay informed about what’s going on outside of our homes, it can feel overwhelming and scary at the same time. Therefore it’s important to focus on the things we can do to support and manage our emotional wellbeing. It is a crucial time to be looking after our mental health and this in turn, will allow us to look after others around us. Now is a time for kindness and compassion, but we must not forget to show kindness and compassion to ourselves too. 

Instead of focussing on the things that are out of our control, we can help reduce anxiety by gaining control in the areas we can. Here are some simple but valuable ways to help focus on your mental health on a daily basis:

Create a schedule

Having order to our day is so important and sets us up to be more productive. Create a routine and try and stick to it.  Get dressed and ready – whether it’s to put you into work mode or just comfortable clothes. It will help you to feel more productive and ready to face the day.  Try to eat well and drink lots of water – stick to your usual diet so you don’t fall into the habit of snacking all day. Structure your day around your work, your children or other activities but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do it all.  Just focus on doing the best you can. 

Avoid too much negative news

It is one thing to be informed about the current situation and feel equipped to deal with our changing circumstances. Don’t however, surround yourself with constant negativity and fear mongering articles – make sure you focus only on credible and reputable news sources. Doing so without any positive or comforting news can cause our brain to engage in a panic response also called ‘fight or flight’. This response is our brain going into survival mode. When there is no immediate threat to fight or run from, this is unhelpful and disruptive.

Identify the things that make you happy

This could be something as small as getting outside, reading a book you enjoy or calling a friend. Focus on doing things you enjoy or think about learning something new.  There are many online classes or ideas available online. Stay engaged and keep yourself busy. 

Keep moving

Physical exercise may seem a little harder when you are trying to stay home and your usual gyms and parks are no longer an option for you.  You can of course still go outdoors once a day for a walk or exercise but think about ways in which you can work out at home too. There are many options available online to suit a wide range of interests and for most of them, no equipment is necessary.  Working out for your body is also working out for your mind and keeps you focussed, relaxed and energised.

Stay connected

As we are all spending so much time at home, it can be easy to feel isolated or lonely. Keep in touch with your family and friends as much as you can via calls, texts, emails and social media.  It will help you feel connected to the outside world and appreciate that we are all in this together. You can also use this opportunity to catch up with or reconnect with old friends that you may not have spoken to for a while.

It’s ok to not feel ok all of the time

Spending so much time at home whilst being disengaged from our usual everyday life is going to be challenging. And whilst we need to all make a concentrated effort to apply some structure and fun to each day, we will all experience days when we find this hard.  Recognise these feelings, perhaps stay away from the news that day and talk about how you feel. Whether it’s with someone at home with you or on the phone to friends or family, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. There are always helplines you can call too.

Spending time with your pet

The human animal bond can be incredibly beneficial at this time, animals can help to reduce our stress and anxiety enabling us to feel more relaxed. Try to spend some time with your pet, stroking and caring for them, it may be a great time to teach your dog some new tricks.

Canine Assisted Learning continues to work remotely with the children and adults who need us at this difficult time, enabling a calming environment where we can talk safely. This is particularly important when we are all experiencing more negativity than we are used to. I

For more information on Canine Assisted Learning, visit us at www.canineassistedlearning.com