Lockdowns throw our usual routines out of sequence. Oamaru counsellor Amanda Acheson offers some tips to help keep your mental wellbeing in balance during Level 3.
So here we are again.
We’ve been here before.
We learnt how to zoom, scan, social distance and even (for some of us) home-school.
Then there is the new normal of the mask-wearing world we are living in for the time being – and it feels as if we are all just winging it.
This time around I remembered that getting into a routine straight away was a great way to keep well.
A study published by Lancet Psychiatry suggests those with a schedule focused on healthy daytime routines have healthier nighttime sleep cycles.
Those with disrupted sleep cycles have higher predispositions to mental health difficulties.
When the usual routines are out of sequence, sleep can become disrupted too, for example, working from home and balancing home-schooling.
Here are some simple routines to keep our mental wellness in balance:
HAVE AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
The art of being grateful for what we have around us helps us to see the beauty of the world.
Perhaps experiment by keeping a journal of your observations or taking a photo and sending it to a friend.
BE KIND TO YOUR MIND
Find some activities you enjoy that help quieten the chatter in your mind.
Our feelings are often directly linked to our thinking and when we bombard our minds with unhelpful thinking we can find ourselves overwhelmed by anxious feelings.
Minimise the amount of social media you use and news you watch, and recognise what stimulates noisy chatter in your head. Instead, find some relaxing habits such as using mindfulness apps, breathing exercises, audio books or even yoga or Pilates classes you can follow online.
A DAILY SELF CHECK
Do a self check on your overall physical wellbeing – exercise, eating well, and good sleep habits.
Monitor alcohol and caffeine intake.
These self checks support being a balanced human.
Laughing is good for your mental wellness. Who doesn’t love a funny Youtube clip?
Laughter reduces stress hormones in the brain and increases oxygen flow. Find things and people around you that give you joy and laughter … it is safely contagious!
Finally, stay connected and ask for help if you need it. If you are feeling low, find someone you can talk to who will really hear you.
Sometimes all that you need to know is that there is someone out there to hear what’s going on in your mind.
Naming the feeling is important and having a companion to accompany you as you explore what’s going on provides reassurance that you are not alone.
This new reality we find ourselves in reminds us how important it is for us all to do our bit to work together.
This whakatauki puts it beautifully: Ko koe kei tēnā kīwai, ko au kei tēnei kīwai o te kete. You carry your handle and I’ll carry my handle of our kete.
Here is a list of support services if extra help is needed:
Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor
Depression healthline: 0800611116
Lifeline Aotearoa: 0800543354
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508828865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
Alcohol Drug Helpline: 0800787797
General mental health inquiries: 0800443366
The Depression Helpline: 0800111757