1. Connect with others
We are social creatures; relationships are key to our mental health. Having to self-isolate or practise social distancing may be difficult. There are obvious ways to digitally connect through WhatsApp, Skype and Facebook. Or even an old-fashioned phone call! But it can be worth thinking about some more imaginative ways.
How about organising a group of friends to all watch the same movie and then meet up digitally to discuss it? You can have a Netflix Watch Party with your friends and talk just as you usually would.
If you have a skill, perhaps you could set up a Facebook live session and teach people to knit or draw. If you, or someone you know, don’t like using social media, make an agreement to write a letter or email to each other once a week.
2. Be physically active
Our physical and mental health and undeniably linked, so it’s important to stay active, even if we don’t feel like it! At the moment the government are advising that we can still go out to exercise once per day. If you do this, please remember to still practice social distancing. If you are lucky enough to have outdoor space you can use it as a gym. There are lots of YouTube videos that you can use to help you exercise either in the home or in your garden.
Many yoga and fitness classes are now being run online, you could go to a ‘virtual class’ with your friends. This has the added benefit of keeping connected with people. Maybe spend this time learning about a new form of exercise, like Pilates or Tai Chi.
3. Be mentally active
The current situation can make us feel quite anxious and stressed, and it’s easy to allow our thoughts to spiral into thinking about ‘what if’s’. Physical exercise can certainly help take our minds off these thoughts. But it’s important to keep mentally active as well.
Board games are a good way of keeping mentally active. Many of us have family favorites which can be used to keep children entertained. But there has been an explosion in board games for adults over recent years. Games like Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan and Scrabble are making a comeback! Many of these games are also good for children.
Or maybe learn a new card game? Most of us have a pack of cards at home. And there are lots of websites which teach you how to play games like canasta and crazy eights.
If you have children at home, you can also help them with their work for your own benefit too. There are lots of resources being posted online to help parents. Many parents would be grateful for a bit of help and this can always be done via apps like Skype or WhatsApp.
4. Learn new skills
Research shows that learning new skills can improve your mental wellbeing. Learning a new skill can improve our self-confidence and help connect us to others.
There are loads of skills you can learn online. Crafts such as knitting and crochet, drawing and painting all help us to be more focused on the moment. Which has been shown to help with our mental wellbeing.
Talk to your friends. Do any of them have a skill that you would like to learn? By getting a group of you to learn together this can be a brilliant way of connecting. Not only will you learn a new skill but you will have lots of fun! Or think about all those DIY jobs you have in the house but don’t know how to tackle. There’s a YouTube video online that will show you!
Research shows that paying more attention to the present moment can improve our mental wellbeing. The NHS are using mindfulness more and more in their approach to things like stress, anxiety and depression.
Mindfulness is something which sounds easy but can be difficult. Some people try it and find it hard. But, like with any skill, it gets easier the more you practice it. A simple exercise is to practice mindfulness whilst brushing your teeth. Concentrate on how the brush feels in your hand, the sensation of it brushing your teeth, the feeling of your feet against your bathroom floor, the smell and taste of the toothpaste. Its amazing how much we experience in the space of 2 minutes brushing our teeth!
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Another exercise, which may be of interest to some, is to take a piece of chocolate or a sweet. Put it on the back of your hand. Concentrate on how it feels against your skin. Pick it up and feel its texture. Look at its colour. Smell it. Put it in your mouth and let it dissolve without you biting into it. Experience how that feels. This also has the added benefit of making chocolate and sweets last longer!
6. Give to others
Giving to others is a great way to boost our wellbeing. We know that it gives us a sense of purpose and creates feelings of positivity which are particularly important at times like this. So you may not be able to go out and volunteer at a community project but think about other ways you can give.
Sign up to one of the local Mutual Aid groups, donate food to a foodbank or use an app like Nextdoor to connect to your local community. Think about people you know who are self-isolating and alone at home. Give them a call for a chat.
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