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Mental well-being: for now and into the future

Good mental health habits are particularly useful to develop right now as we find ourselves living through unusual times. No matter where we sit on the spectrum of how our own circumstances are affected, we should be mindful of a few invaluable processes that will help us maintain positivity and help us navigate life, now and afterwards, when we return to a more usual way of living.

“The fear of being out of control and unable to tolerate uncertainty are common characteristics of many anxiety disorders. So it's understandable that many individuals with pre-existing anxiety are facing challenges at the moment.” Anxiety UK's Nicky Lidbetter

For some people working from home is a huge change. For others, including the Just Audit team, it is business as usual. Some people live their life from one Amazon delivery to the next, whereas others may have never shopped online. You may be someone who enjoys a riotous social life, regular nights out and are constantly surrounded by friends, colleagues and family. Others might pursue a more solitary, peaceful, home-loving route. We are all facing this current time in our lives from different perspectives and so our mental health is ours alone to take care of.

Here are our carefully researched (but common sense) top tips to looking after yourself:

Limit the amount of time you spend watching the news

We believe that the BBC broadcast that is on every day, around 5pm, is probably all you need. It gives the latest facts and figures and any updates. As the news is now significantly less ‘minute-by-minute’ it is interesting to see the different perspectives of the various cabinet ministers as they report on their own sets of responsibilities.

Recognise the triggers that make you anxious

If you experience a stressful response to anything, be aware of it and avoid it if you can. A news overload can be harmful. If home deliveries to your door are worrying you, leave out a note to ask the delivery person to leave the goods on your step and ring the bell but you are self-isolating (even if you aren’t). Anxiety can lower the immune system so be aware of your own personal concerns and talk them through with someone you trust.

Eat well

Eat a balanced diet with plenty of water, fresh food and lots of colour. Working from home doesn’t mean you have to eat all day (and we know this from experience!). It’s good to keep to your usual eating habits and you might even find you are drawn to do a little more cooking from scratch. The current flour shortage is telling us that maybe people are more drawn to baking than fresh soup making!

Volunteer your time if appropriate

If you aren’t self-isolating, are symptom-free and have time available, give something back to your community, even if it’s just helping one person. Many neighbourhoods are operating Covid-19 support teams who shop, collect prescriptions and check on more vulnerable people. It makes you feel good, occupies your time productively and gives a great feeling of community and well-being. Adopt good social distancing and hygiene practices for everyone’s sake.

Spend your time wisely

There’s nothing hugely wrong with a duvet day and a Netflix boxset but not every day! Even if you have been furloughed and find yourself unable to work in your existing job, you can have good, fulfilling days doing all sorts of things. We recommend having some sort of plan for the day with a reasonable time to get up, shower and start some sort of project. Gardening, cooking, walking, exercising, drawing, DIY, decorating, researching your next adventure, thinking of a new business project – whatever you have been putting off – now is the time! There are plenty of free short courses online and webinars are a useful way to learn.

Keep in contact with the world

We can’t stress enough how important human contact is. Take the time to speak to people outside your own household every day. Pick up the phone to friends, colleagues and family. Text a few vulnerable people and see if they need anything. Skype your work colleagues or friends in Australia. It’s good for the soul to connect and share experiences. Lots of people are setting up House Party, Teams or Zoom gatherings to chat, enjoy a quiz or other social activities. Exercising can also be done as a group online which can make you feel more committed and motivated to join in.

Limit social media time

Whilst it’s important to be in touch with your circle, it’s also worth remembering that social media platforms aren’t always helpful in creating a peaceful, calm mindset. There are an awful lot of inflated opinions out there, fake news and people often acting out of character. It is something to be limited where possible. Have a set part of the day where you catch up and understand the feelings you experience as content starts to make you feel negative in any way - stress, anger, worry, panic - then switch off. Having a set time to catch up means you can make meaningful connections but social media is not allowed to take over your world. Reality is best!

Enjoy your down-time

Make time for rest and, for those of us isolating with others, enjoy your enforced family time by connecting in both old and new ways that make you happy. Being outdoors, within the parameters set by the government, is ideal for a sense of well-being. Connecting with nature in any small way, even if it’s experiencing the weather and seeing birds fly overhead, is therapy in itself. Reading and watching non-stressful TV with your family – especially comedy - is also great for the soul.

We hope these few tips help remind you of how to set yourself good routes to a healthy mindset. Let us know if there are any we’ve missed!

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