tips to support your mental health
So here we are, navigating another lockdown as we roll into 2021. Although a lockdown situation isn’t new to us by now, we are human and with that comes a lot of emotion to manage. What with being in the middle of winter and entering a new year, things can feel heavy. We spoke to Jodie Cariss, the founder of Brighton’s new mental health provider, Self Space, to hear her top tips for all of us that are managing (another) lockdown.
It’s okay to feel a lot
If we didn’t know this already, it’s definitely something that came with 2020. Jodie says: “When we repress emotion, it comes out in our body or in our relationships. Much of what we come into contact with in our culture tells us if we’re not happy, there’s something wrong. Try to avoid toxic positivity, allow yourself to feel (both heavy and light) without judgement and without rushing to your emotional exits.”
Social media can be a big place for this. It can be easy to find ourselves wondering why everyone else looks like they are absolutely ‘FINE’ during the pandemic, but it’s important to remember that more often than not, people will only be sharing their best bits. Not the bits where they’re crying at home or overcome with anxiety. Setting social media limits and focusing on yourself and your needs is what’s important to remember right now.
Bedtime isn’t just for kids
Jodie says: “Tired children just do not cope. And we, as adults, share in this sensitive experience of a shortfall of sleep. A lack of sleep results in tiredness, and tiredness reduces our capacity to cope with stress and everyday challenges. We carry our worries to our pillows where they are joined by other catastrophising thoughts, which causes a lack of sleep. So, approach your sleep like you are your own responsible parent and take from the wisdom of your younger self.”
Here at BOTI HQ we’ve definitely been having a tough time sleeping soundly over the last couple of weeks and one thing we’ve found helps is charging your phone in another room at night, so that you can’t just roll over and find yourself auto-scrolling before bed. If you can’t sleep without it then pop it on aeroplane mode at least an hour before bed. Boundaries are BIG right now and this will give yourself time to switch off.
Busy is addictive
Hands up if you try and keep yourself busy to distract from what’s happening right now? Jodie explains: “Being busy is addictive. When we complete tasks, our brain releases the pleasure hormone dopamine, which makes us feel good. We can get hooked on this feeling and the rewarding experience, so we want it to be repeated. We then crave this pleasure again and again. But are we really doing ourselves any favours by staying so busy?”
This makes SO. MUCH. SENSE. Sound familiar? If we’ve learnt anything over the last year, it’s that acknowledging and allowing ourselves to feel our feelings (the highs and the lows!) rather than slipping into old coping mechanisms and distractions has definitely helped. With the restrictions in place right now, we automatically have some of our usual distractions taken away, so taking even just five minutes each morning to check in with yourself can really help. Ask yourself how you’re feeling and what you need today.
Remember, we’re good at adapting
Lesson of 2020, perhaps? Jodie says: “History has shown that when change comes to humanity, either on the global level, like it’s happening now, or on the personal level – we’re really good at it. We’re really good at adaptation. If we can remember that, it can help to actually mitigate the fear and anxiety we’re feeling. There is, and will be, pain.
“There will undoubtedly be an impact on our collective mental health, but there will also be some post-trying-times resilience gained… we just can’t see or feel it yet because we’re still in the fire.”
Remember to check in with yourself each day and your loved ones as much as you can right now. We’re in this together! Jodie has partnered with Selina, to bring Self Space to her home town in Brighton, launching on 11th January. Self Space provides accessible mental health support and Jodie hopes to help change the way we look after our mental health, making every day about mental maintenance, in the same way we look after our physical health. To find out more, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org and quote ‘Brightonians’ for 10% off.