This is a guest post by Luisa Pimenta.
“At this very moment, millions of people are at home self-isolating. Some of us are confined in small spaces completely alone, whilst others are stuck with the same ‘quarantine buddies’ 24-hours a day. The consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic are physically and mentally draining; and certainly not beneficial to our mental wellbeing.
Many aspects of our lives have changed quickly and dramatically, leaving us feeling lost, worried and anxious. However, let’s keep in mind that this, too, shall pass – and that there is always something we can do to improve our level of comfort even in quarantine.
Now more than ever, we need to dedicate time to look after our mental health. With this in mind, here are three tips and techniques that can help you stay grounded and manage the rollercoaster of emotions we are experiencing during this global health crisis.
Journaling is a well-known self-care technique and has many benefits, such as clearing and calming the mind. Take a few minutes every day to reflect on how you feel and appreciate the good things you have. It sounds trivial, but focussing on the positives in your life does wonders for your mental wellbeing.
There are different journaling techniques you can explore; but for the kind of journaling I like to do, there are basically no rules. Some days I may write long pages and let it all out. Other days I might write just three words. It doesn’t matter!
Allow yourself to ‘feel’ something and put it into words. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it just needs to be real. And no matter how tough your day is, make yourself think of at least a couple of good things you have going on in your life.
Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance –Eckhart Tolle
Remember you’re not writing a novel, so anything that brings you joy is worth writing down – no matter how silly or unimportant it may seem. Are you grateful for it? Did it bring you joy? Did it make you smile? Then write it down!
For example, today I wrote:
‘Sunshine in Scotland‘
‘My boyfriend’s sense of humour’
I find it extremely important to end each day with a couple (if not more) of happy thoughts.
I used to think of meditation as ’nonsense’. However, over the years I have learned that it can help to reduce stress levels and rewire our brains towards more positive thoughts. By helping us to handle negative feelings and emotions, practising meditation can have a huge impact on our mental wellbeing.
I started my meditation journey using an app called Headspace. At this point I wasn’t yet convinced that meditation was for me, but as I was going through some difficult times I decided to give it a go.
I took it seriously but I also knew my personal limitations, so I started meditating for just 10 minutes every day before I went to work – as simple as that! Do not make it more complicated than it needs to be.
The more regularly and the more deeply you meditate, the sooner you will find yourself acting always from a center of peace –J. Donald Walters
Apps like Headspace are very convenient not only because you have guidance, but also because you can decide how long you want to practise for. The app consists of a big library of guided meditation sessions organised by goals; from improving sleep and releasing stress to combatting anxiety.
Give it a go, but take it slow! Meditation can be quite frustrating in the beginning as we realise how hard it is to quieten the mind. Be patient and don’t be too hard on yourself.
THE POWER OF NOW BY ECKHART TOLLE
This book had a tremendous impact on my life, and I go back to it regularly. It brings me peace because it reminds me of how important it is to be present and grounded. Yes, it is a self-help book – one that I think we should all read as it shows us the way out of psychological pain, created by our own thoughts.
Eckhart Tolle guides us through the process of differentiating between the situations we are in, and the narrative of our minds. His work makes us realise that the constant commentary that goes on in our minds every single minute is very often of no good to us. It takes us out of the present moment and makes us worry about the future, or brings us sadness for something that happened in the past.
So whenever you catch yourself worrying or feeling unhappy, become aware of your thoughts and question them for a second. What is your mind telling you? You’ll realise that most of the time, the thoughts that made you uneasy, worried or anxious are thoughts that live in the future or past.
The power for creating a better future is contained in the present moment: You create a good future by creating a good present –Eckhart Tolle
Take a minute and ask yourself how would you experience this moment without the mental self-talk? What is left if you are not creating a narrative in your mind? The answer is: the present moment. Look around you and observe everything, feel your breath, be aware of any smells or sounds. Repeat this process every time you find yourself worrying about the future or regretting the past. You will soon realise how our own minds sabotage our mental wellbeing on a daily basis!
Last, but not least…
With regular practice, the three tips above can very quickly start to change the way you feel and experience life. I know this because I’ve seen the impact they have on my own mental wellbeing.
Each activity is fairly simple and will not take more than 30 minutes to complete – unless you want to spend longer on it, of course. This way, you get to introduce new habits into your life without feeling overwhelmed.
Don’t get me wrong – keeping yourself busy can be good, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself during these already challenging times. I find that covering up emotions and thoughts with loads of activities will only give you a false and temporary sense of ease.
Most importantly, remember that it’s only a matter of time until life goes back to normal – but the benefits you get from learning to live in the present and to be grateful for what you have will forever change your mental wellbeing for the better. Stay safe!”