Sun, 10 January, 2021
A Lockdown may not be the ideal way to start a new year. It has left many people feeling bad and pessimistic. But we all know it is essential, it won't last forever, and the UK has vaccinated over 1 million people already, so the end is in sight. Not tomorrow, but in sight.
So while we are still under coronavirus restrictions, it is important to be looking after our mental well-being, because many of us find this third lockdown very difficult. Through small, positive changes to our day-to-day habits, we can learn how to react to unavoidable negative thoughts and bad feelings.
To acknowledge that the covid-19 pandemic has affected your mental health, is not to say that you are weak. In fact, being truthful and honest to yourself about how you are coping is a sight of great strength. Just like asking for help when your workload is large is not a sight of failure, but a necessity to help you be at your best.
Try not to lie-in and instead keep to a routine
Have a stricter routine during these tumultuous times can play an important role in getting a better nights sleep. Try to be strict with yourself, that means being in bed and rising within a 15 to 20-minute window. Also, keep this up on the weekends too.
Improving your quality of sleep will improve the quality of repair to your body and mind overnight. And that will begin as soon as your head touches the pillow and you start to rest properly.
Paying attention to the things that make you feel grateful
This is quite a well known practice for well-being and it has even been taught to Harvard students that have been struggling with negativity.
The practice is simple: Each morning, write down three things you are grateful for, then choose one and elaborate on it a little. For example:
- The support of my family
- For starting a new courses
- Having a video call with my friends today
I'm very excited to start my new masters course and I cannot wait to meet my fellow students and our lectures.
Now it may be difficult at first to come up with three each day, but try to keep your chooses unique. Keep it up for more than 21 days and you'll have start to readdress the balance between focusing on negative and positive news, actions or feelings in your life.
Acknowledge bad feelings like stress, then bin them
Bad feelings are a fact of life and they can become more prevalent when our self-esteem is low and we going through hard times. But when we start to feel bad thoughts or feelings coming into our minds, mindfulness teaches us not to ignore them, feel them, acknowledge them, and tell ourselves to worry about them later. However, this exercise recommended by Psychologist Nick Wignall makes a slight twist.
Write down onto a piece of paper all the things that are making you feel stressed or anxious. Next, take the piece of paper, scrunch it up, and throw it in the bin. If you do this at around the same time each day for over 21 days, you'll be training you mind to only worry at a designated time and location. This should be particularly effective if you find inhibiting feelings of stress popping up throughout a typical day. Instead, you'll be reducing the overall time that you are feeling stressed and more time feeling good.
Allow good feelings to become reality
We have all heard the phrase 'Thinking makes it so,' and it express that through our own thoughts we create our own reality. One basic example of this is that when we're thinking of buying a certain car, we start to see it everywhere.
So learning from that, if we start to think about positive outcomes more often, we should start to spot them more regularly. Positivity isn't about dissolution, it's about not letting the two bad things that happen not out-way the ten good. It's about believing that the odds are in your favour, rather than against. And it's about believing you can do something, rather than a fear of failure holding you back.
Keep comparisons in context
The final point to think about is keeping comparison in the right context. We compare our bodies to the images we see on social media, rather than thinking about what is most important to us. The same can happen with research work or education.
Keep your comparisons to what matters most to you and your values.
Try not to compare you work or progress to others. For a start, if someone has made more progress than you, that can make you feel bad and hold you back. On the other hand, if you've done more than another, that might give you a false sense of security. At the end of the day, these kinds of negative comparisons help nobody.
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