2020 has been an incredibly challenging year on our physical, emotional, and financial health. In turn, this has impacted on many people’s mental health.
A pandemic is an easy time for us to become absorbed in the world’s struggles and to become overwhelmed by them.
I’m currently working through a ‘challenging times’ module with my therapist and I’m finding it helpful to remember that adjusting to strange circumstances does put a strain on us and our mental health. This is a normal reaction to exceptional circumstances. Anxiety is a normal response to our brain picking up on signals that there is danger out there. Be kind to yourself.
Here are some simple things that can help you to keep a check on your physical and mental well-being during a pandemic.
Diet- Balance is Key
Many people will swear by a particular way of eating as being the oracle of well-being and optimum health.
Eliminating meat and dairy products might be one way, or cutting the carbs and eating mainly proteins and fats could be another.
With these ways of eating, while it may make them seem as though they’re good for you, it may not actually be the case at all.
They eliminate vital components to your diet, which may cause adverse effects in the longer term.
Maintaining balance is key to well-being. That means including; a good amount of carbohydrates in fruit, vegetables, bread, and grains. Fats from dairy products, nuts, seeds, and animal fats, and proteins from meat, fish, eggs, and tofu products.
Feeding your body is also feeding your mind, so keeping both healthy is key to helping you through the pandemic.
This also means not overeating due to stress. The foods we tend to binge on are not good for our physical health, either. Have your treats but don’t overdo it.
Get Ahead on Your Finances
Unfortunately for some, the pandemic has meant job losses. This has resulted in some people struggling to keep up with their finances and risking losing their homes.
Short of going through home loan refinancing, there are ways in which you can tighten the shoestring a little to make sure you’re not caught short and stuck in the spiral of debt.
I’ve experienced a change in my finances due to retiring early from my school role and I’ve created a budget based around my regular expenses and my income. I’m being more cautious with the weekly food shop so instead of adding my ‘favourites’ to my online basket I’m having a browse to see if I could make any substitutions. Doing this, my weekly food shop is on average £20 less a week. Over the year that’s £1040 (I might have been influenced by Eat Well for Less 🙂 )
Don’t live beyond your means, and save what you can to make way for any unexpected costs.
Even if you’re not currently faced with financial difficulties, having that extra cushioning to protect you later down the line will be beneficial.
As well as looking after your physical wellbeing, it is well known that stress is a huge factor in overall wellbeing. Taking care of your mental wellbeing is a key part of having the motivation to look out for your physical wellbeing in the future.
If you’re stressed, you’re unlikely to want to plan a balanced and healthy meal or work out. Mental health is just as, if not more important, than physical health.
Practice mindfulness when you can. This will bring you back to the moment and help ground you.
Even when the day is challenging during the toughest season many of us have had to face in our lifetimes, take the time out to focus on the good moments of the day. Write down your gratitude, share it with your family or friends. Focusing on the positive together will keep your mood boosted.
Stop the stresses of everyday life from taking hold. Don’t look at your work emails outside of your paid working hours, don’t take on more things than you need to. Stress can cause high blood pressure which comes with a lot of problems later on.
Take time out to meditate and do the things you enjoy safely.
Reach Out And Seek Help
To say that this year has been challenging is somewhat of an understatement! And it’s natural to feel as though you’re being buried among the sand when you’ve overwhelmed.
Some will say that ‘we’re all in the same boat’–but that isn’t true. We’re sailing through the same storm, and that will impact different people in different ways.
The phrase ‘we’re all in this together’ is extremely true right now. It means reaching out to friends and family when things seem more challenging than you’d like them to be, or by accessing some mental health services online who use their areas of expertise to help to bring you back to a better place mentally.
There’s never any shame in seeking professional help, and a pandemic is no exception.
Remember: This Isn’t Forever
There have been huge pandemics in historical times, but they are just that – in history. They didn’t last forever, and neither will this one. This means we won’t have to stay home forever without seeing our friends and families.
For now, keep strong. Reach out if you need help, and keep washing your hands and keeping your distance until things get better.
We will get through this, together.
Take care of your body and your mind now – it’s the only one you’ve got.