At the beginning of the pandemic, I shared (here) how we can better manage our wellbeing. As its Mental Health Awareness week, I thought I would share some of the things that I do specifically to help manage my own mental health and wellbeing.
Being good at looking after our mental health and wellbeing is hard at the best of times. I don’t think it’s something that we are used to doing consistently well. We are getting better at it but we could perhaps do more. There isn’t a one size fits all approach and people (especially some of us northern folk) still find it difficult to talk about how we feel. Amongst all of those things we are now dealing with a global crisis where we have to juggle new complexities to our daily lives and try and navigate many unknowns. For me, in addition to those things, life becomes a little more complicated as I plan for the arrival of my first child in July – that’s hugely exciting and somewhat scary at the same time!
We’re all dealing with so many highs and lows at the moment so it’s important to be mindful of how we embrace the highs and steer the course for the lows.
This is what I do:
- Structure of my day is important. I’ll be honest, keeping up with that structure has been a little tricky of late but I’ll make sure I get up early in the morning and take my dog Ted, for a walk. Sometimes I’ll grab my earphones and listen to a podcast or some music. Other times I’ll just enjoy the quietness, embracing being out early, before most others. I’ll also make sure I’ve got some kind of plan around my day, making sure I have some time for lunch and planning to make sure that I switch off from work at a reasonable time in the evening. Those things give me some focus and by having my to-do list, there is some satisfaction in seeing progress as I tick things off.
- Eating well. I make sure that breakfast and lunch are decent meals. I can quite easily fall into a trap of eating junk and I love a pizza (as does Mrs Q during her pregnancy) so I’ll make sure that I plan something for dinner. I’ve quite enjoyed having the time to cook in the evening. I’ll put some music on and get on with it. I’m no Jamie Oliver but I’m getting better. Before the lockdown I’d be very guilty of ordering takeaway or stopping at the shops to grab a quick fix.
- Exercise is really important to me. I don’t feel good if I don’t do it and I’m missing being able to get to the gym. I have been running more and it’s been great to figure out new routes around where I live. The lock down has certainly made me feel more appreciative of what’s on my door step. I think, what is important about exercise is, do what feels right for you. We don’t all need to be the Body Coach jumping around our livings rooms.
- Staying in touch. I could be better at this. My friends tell me that I might as well send a message by carrier pigeon, because my responses to their texts are that slow. I’ve made sure that I’m better at this lately. I’ve had a lot of zoom catch ups and quizzes. I’ll make sure that I pick up the phone and say hello to my friends and family when I can. Importantly, I’ll ask ‘are you ok?’ and ask it twice. Asking twice means that you are more likely to get the real answer which is a good conversation starter.
- Learning something new. I don’t really have much of a choice on this one – I’ve been sent lots of ‘New Dad’ books. Hopefully I’ll be a nappy changing pro. I have also been dabbling at making bread, trying my hand at joinery (I need lots of new storage) and a spot of gardening.
- Doing nothing. I drive my wife crazy because I always have a plan and I’m always busy doing something. Lockdown has taught me to slow down a bit. Doing nothing is important. People talk about mindfulness which is about being present and in the moment. I think that sometimes being ‘mindless’ is a thing that we should do. You need to slow your brain down as its needs time to reset and recharge. I’m watching a lot of box sets, films and a bit of easy going TV. Who knew that ‘The Chase’ and ‘Tipping Point’ were that good? I think that ‘Deal or No Deal’ needs a comeback.
- Practicing gratitude. It’s important for me to remember that sometimes the simple things are just as important as everything else. I’ve been grateful for the time I have had to re-evaluate what is important to me as I plan for the arrival of our new family member.
All these things have been important to keep me focused and in good mental health. I hope that they give you some thought for what you might do. I’ll admit, I have some low points of my day and week every now and again, but the key thing to remember is to be kind to yourself, reflect on the highs and the lows will quickly pass.
You can find plenty of good advice online.
- Take a look at the NHS website here https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-covid-19-staying-at-home-tips/
- org.uk also have some great tools https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-to-mental-health
- www.headspace.com has a whole host of podcast and tools to help with stress and anxiety, better sleep, and exercise.
Marketing and Solutions Director
19th May 2020