Many have breezed through lockdown 2.0 but others have found it tough going. Wherever you fit on the scale, it’s great to know how to support your own mental wellbeing as well as others.
We’ve gathered some of the most practical steps online from top sites like Forbes, Harvard Health Publishing by Harvard Medical School and Medical News Today to give you 6 bite-sized tips to get you through the next few days and weeks.
1. Create a daily check in with friends and family
A healthy emotional and mental state is something we all need to work on but for many Kiwis it’s a daily struggle. Now more than ever we need to look out for one another. For many of us when the going gets tough it’s hard to articulate how we’re feeling, why we’re feeling that way and what we’re struggling with.
If you or a friend or family member is struggling with the impact of Covid-19 then a mental health scale can help define what you’re feeling and where you are at day to day or even hour by hour, and is a great tool for you and those wanting to help.
To put it in action, create a small circle of people to check in with using this scale and invite them to use it with you too.
Next create a plan around what you would like them to do when you express a certain number. Like, “When I message you with an 8 I am asking you to please call me as soon as you can”. Or “When I send you a 4 I am doing OK but please stay in touch with me today”.
2. Do a digital detox
During times of heightened stress and anxiety peaks while in isolation, limiting social media activity or ditching it all together to do something else may be a gentler option for your soul.
Seeing other people’s happy or productive posts especially on Instagram may do the opposite for you than was intended by the poster. Scientific studies have found that when people are in a state of vulnerable mental health, comparing their life to others can elicit feelings of FOMO (fear of missing out) and inadequacy, and exacerbate feelings of isolation triggering greater levels of depression or anxiety.
If you are the one doing all the posting, take care to keep sense checking your posts so you don’t cross into over-self-absorption. Perhaps write the post, let it all out, then decide later after stepping a way whether to post it live.
Instead of using social media, connect with friends or family and schedule in a daily chat over a cup of tea. If you’d prefer to reach out to someone outside your network then try a support line like Youthline or Lifeline. By staying away from sites like Twitter and Facebook, you’ll also avoid fake news, alarming conspiracy theories and overactive ill-informed keyboard warriors.
3. See the cup as half full instead of half empty
While it may not seem like it, if you’re reading this post you are likely to be in a situation that the majority of the world could only dream about. You have the internet and a device to connect on, you likely have a warm home, warm, clean, dry clothes and perhaps even people in your bubble. These are all positives!
Plus, if you’re reading this from New Zealand, we’re acing our Covid plan and will be operating back to a relative “normal” soon. Yes, things have taken a dive, but think of the blessings of having a country where we endeavour to not let people slide through the cracks.
There are so many studies that show how practising gratitude can elevate mental health. So if you have never done something like listing “Three things I am grateful for today…” now is the perfect time to start it and you may even create a new habit. If you have children, it could be the perfect task to share together at breakfast, lunch or dinner.
4. Plan something to look forward to
We don’t really know what the future holds, but we all need hope and fun things to look forward to. We’re so lucky in Aotearoa New Zealand that spring is just days away. That means beach, picnics, barbecues and of course Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Luckily a lot of spring and summer fun is easily affordable. Now is the perfect time to make a few plans – loose or fixed – with your favourite people. It could be making a plan for the next person’s birthday by booking an activity like ziplining or a hike, or a restaurant, or getting together at someone’s house.
Or keep your future plans super simple, like putting Netflix or movie release dates in your calendar, getting excited about the weekend by planning at least one thing to do that you don’t do during the week, like repotting plants, gardening, waterside fishing, a kayak or walking to your favourite bakery to buy a treat.
Or even start a savings account for a dream holiday way down the track – even popping $10 in will open up a future of possibility. Being future-focussed can stimulate optimism and send positive hormones around the brain, and be a sound reminder that while we’re amidst an awful blip, it won’t be forever.
5. Create a Daily routine but keep it simple
If you’re in Auckland and are working from home for level 3, or are in and or will opt to stay at home during level 2, or if you have lost your job, create a simple routine to build structure into your day.
Psychologists say by sticking to a routine people cut down on decision-making throughout the day by reducing activity options to choose from, and the dreaded lull moments where people can typically spiral with spikes of anxiety.
So whether its a stretch in the morning, a walk around the neighbourhood, a daily scheduled coffee with your bubble buddies or over Zoom, or a keeping to a regular lunch time, by sticking to a routine you’ll have a no surprises life and your body and mind will thank you for the certainty.
And if you change your schedule replacing it with a sleep in, chat with friends or a dance around the lounge, it’s all good. Just use it to replace an item on your list and leap to the next item on your schedule.
While you can’t control the world you sure can take a moment for an indulgent treat. Even knowing that you have a tasty snack to look forward to mid-afternoon or evening can be enough to keep you excited and motivated – yes, even something small like a chocolatey treat can create a sense of thrill.
A little reward can go a long way and our Gooey Choccie Mug Cake takes the, erm, cake! Enjoy in the evening after a busy day.
- 3 tbsp. Original Almond Breeze Almond Milk
- 2-3 tsp. coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. cocoa or cacao powder
- 3 tbsp. spelt flour
- 2 tbsp. coconut sugar
- 1/4 tsp. baking powder
- Dark chocolate (optional)
- Icing sugar to dust (optional)
- Oreos to decorate (optional)
- Combine the spelt flour, coconut sugar, salt, baking powder and cocoa/cacao powder in a mug.
- Next, add the Original Almond Breeze Almond Milk, coconut oil and vanilla extract and stir so there is little to no dry mix.
- Option to push a piece or two of dark chocolate into the centre of the mixture so it goes gooey in the middle.
- Place mug in microwave and cook for 40 seconds.
- Dust with icing sugar if desired and add crunchy broken and whole Oreos on top for an extra chocolatey punch!
From our love of Almond Breeze almond milk to yours…
Discover more almondlicious recipes by clicking here!