For many people, the financial strain caused by Coronavirus is negatively impacting on their mental health.
But it’s not just economic worries that are affecting our mental well-being.
Concerns around a whole host of issues, such as family, relationships, isolation, boredom and ‘the future’ are also all causing anxiety.
Since lockdown began in March last year, support groups and charities have been flooded with calls, as the UK faces its biggest mental health crisis in decades.
Struggling in the latest lockdown?
While many were hopeful that things might get better in 2021, now that we’ve been plunged into another lockdown, for many, this has not been the case.
Given all that is going on, now is the time to pay attention to our mental wellbeing, and to focus on self-care.
Here’s some tips to help you feel healthier and happier, and to help set you on the right track in these uncertain times.
1) Get into a routine
A really helpful way to get through the latest lockdown – and especially if you are working from home – is by getting some structure into your day.
Getting up at a decent time, getting showered and dressed, and starting work at 9am can work wonders for your motivation.
But also be sure to take breaks throughout the day where you get up and move around, or better still, go outside.
2) Manage your work-life balance
Resist the temptation to work into the evening. Try and finish up around the same time as you normally would.
If work seems to be the main focus in your life right now, think about taking up a new hobby or other interest.
You could maybe try doing something creative, or go back and read your favourite books.
3) Exercise regularly
Walking, running and cycling can all get you out of the house into the fresh air. Exercising outside helps to produce endorphins which can really help to lift your mood.
As you can’t go to the gym or swimming pool, or play your usual team sport, why not try a new form of exercise.
There are a whole host of apps offering classes – such as yoga, pilates, HIIT, and Zumba – which you can do from your living room, bedroom or back garden.
As part of your focus on your physical well-being, make sure you eat properly and stay well hydrated.
And try not to hit the wine every night.
4) Put your phone down
Hard as it may be, try and put your phone down for a period each day, and give yourself a digital detox. Even a short break from technology is better than nothing.
Better still, try turning your phone off for a few hours in the evening, and leave it switched off overnight.
This will give you a better chance of getting a good night’s sleep without disturbance. Good quality sleep is crucial for good mental health.
Equally, when you are back on your phone, try to limit your time on social media sites. Too much scrolling can often cause more anxiety. Also remember to take a break from the news cycle from time to time.
5) Learn to be more mindful
Mindfulness involves listening to our thoughts and feelings in a way that improves our ability to manage difficult situations and, in turn, make better choices.
Set aside time each day if you can to carry out a relaxation exercise such as a short meditation, or some controlled breathing. These can all help you ‘be in the present moment.’
Check out apps such as Headspace and Calm.
6) Try to avoid panic buying
With ongoing uncertainty, not only due to Covid, but also due to Brexit, it can be tempting to stockpile.
This may be because you are worried items won’t be available, or that the things you usually buy are set to get more costly.
But you need to resist this temptation, as if stockpiling becomes a big problem again – as it did last year – we could see restrictions introduced again to try and keep a steady supply of goods on the shelves.
While uncertainty can be tough to deal with mentally, it’s important to be mindful of others when you shop, and to leave enough for other people.
7) Don’t go on a spending spree as a ‘pick-me-up’
In the depths of lockdown, you might feel that going online and buying new shoes, clothes, bags, gadgets or gizmos may make you feel happier. But you need to tread carefully.
Going shopping can offer a little escapism, but over time, retail ‘therapy’ could get very costly, and you could end up spending money you don’t have.
Limit the time you spend browsing online, and if there’s a ‘big’ purchase you think you’d like to make, write it down, then wait a week – or even a month – to see if it is still something you really want.
Saying ‘no’ to yourself and exercising some self-restraint can help you stay within your budget – and this can be very beneficial for your mental health.
8) Take stock of your finances and reduce stress
To reduce stress caused by your money situation, it may help to get a clear understanding of your financial priorities. This can help improve both your financial – and mental – wellbeing.
Taking back control will be an important part of this.
A good starting point involves writing a list of the things you would like to address.
Having done this, find the relevant paperwork where you feel change is needed. Also think about which organisations you may need to get help and guidance from.
9) Open up and talk about money
If you are struggling financially due to the pandemic, your instinct may be to keep your money worries to yourself.
But why not flip this, and see Covid-19 as an opportunity to break the taboo surrounding talking about money.
For some couples – perhaps where one partner now has to rely on the other partner to keep them both going financially, having lost their own income through redundancy or reduced hours – starting the conversation about money will be a necessity.
Sharing a problem really can help matters – so make a pledge to be more open with your other half, to re-evaluate your financial position, set goals together, and check in monthly together to see what progress you are making.
Head here for more tips on talking about money.
10) Talk to friends and relatives – and the professionals
While you might feel you need to be strong for those who depend on you, suffering alone during lockdown will only add to the pressure you’re under.
If possible, try sharing your situation – and your fears and worries – with friends or family.
And don’t be afraid of seeking professional help.