The world we once knew has changed; I do hope it will eventually be for the better. The lockdown has brought varying challenges to everyone, putting pressure on relationships within the household and managing the endless battles with technology. Overcoming these obstacles can take a bit of trial and error, but finding some positivity in each day will certainly help.
It seems an age since the start of lockdown. I don’t know about you, but the last few months have felt like Groundhog Day! I lose track of the days as they seemingly merge together. I have managed to slow down, giving myself permission to do nothing on occasion, whilst being productive at other times. I’m really missing the clinic, and I don’t think work will be the same for a long time, but there is some hope for a reopening (more on this later).
I’ve really enjoyed the sunshine, and having access to Ashridge National Trust forest is a godsend. We’re walking around 8km, three times a week, and it brings me into the present as I focus on the surroundings. If something is troubling me, solutions spring to mind.
Get out in nature
Getting out in nature is one of the best ways to stay positive and protect your mental health. Embrace the outdoors and take in your surroundings.
Negative thinking is often triggered by raised cortisol levels (your fight or flight response), and these worrying times can lead to an over-production of the stress hormone. Walking in nature releases serotonin (the feel-good hormone) and dopamine (the reward hormone). A healthy dose of nature will lower cortisol levels (unless you’re charged at by a wild elephant, which is one problem we don’t have to face in the UK!).
Look up at the tree tops and appreciate their grandeur. Reach even further and watch the birds, high in the sky. Then take a deep breath.
People who know me always say I look up. When we were allowed out as tourists, I always noticed the beautiful things above head height. It’s a technique that really helped me cope with a tragic loss, some years ago. When you’re feeling low, looking down can become a habit as you try to avoid any eye contact. Looking up can really lift your spirits.
Here are some more techniques to try when things are getting you down:
- The 5-2-8 technique – Focussing on your breathing is very effective at calming you down. Breathe in for the count of five, hold for two and then breathe out for eight. Do this a few times.
- Hold your emotional stress release (ESR) points – This is an incredibly simple, powerful technique that changes the way you react to stress. It won’t take the problem away, but it will change how you deal with it. Let me know if you’d like to give this a try, and I’ll talk you through it.
- Take a vitamin B complex – I recommend Nutri-Calm. Designed to support you through challenging times, it really does what it says on the tin.
- Take a Bach flower remedy – I recommend Walnut, which promotes adaptability, emotional flexibility and protection during times of change. It also acts as a cloak of protection if you’re over-sensitive to the environment or influenced by others.
- Only watch the news once a day – Obsessing about the news will only worry you more. Try to avoid watching in the evenings as it could disturb your sleep.
- Limit your time on social media – Seeing what others are doing can make you feel dissatisfied with yourself. It’s not going to make you feel better, particularly if you’re already feeling low.
- Phone a friend – Brighten your mood by chatting to a friend and sharing problems, stories and laughter.