It’s easy to look at the “how you would have reacted in 2019 if you knew 2020 would be like this” tweets doing the rounds at the moment and smile. But behind that smile is a darker truth. If any of us had been in possession of a crystal ball in 2019, we wouldn’t have been laughing, but we would have been terrified. So if you are reading this because the word “wellbeing” got your attention, well that’s a very deliberate choice of word for the title. The truth is, your wellbeing has probably taken a knock in the past 6 months, and it’s sometimes hard to know what to do about that when you can’t fix the problems out there in the wider world. But actually, you can help protect your wellbeing. And there are some really simple and realistic things you can do today that will help you feel that little bit more upbeat and centred on a day to day basis.
Tip 1: Pick a time of day to read the news
Read the news once a day, and then put your phone down / turn off the TV. Things may be happening at a pace, but news isn’t changing by the hour, so you can keep updated without constantly filling your brain with repetitive thoughts about all the bad that may be happening with the world.
Tip 2: Avoid social media
Social media used to be about connection. Nowadays, it’s full to the brim with news, fake news, opinions, debates. It’s so easy to get drawn in, and sometimes hard to tap into your inner thoughts and identify what that constant (often negative) stream of information is doing to your wellbeing. So if you must use social media, block or silence negative accounts, choose one time of the day to use it, and keep reminding yourself to put the phone down!
Tip 3: Try a morning breathing exercise
Research has shown that you can improve your wellbeing in as little as 5 minutes a day by doing some simple breathing exercises that help to slow your heart rate and clear your mind. If you haven’t tried these before, there are lots of apps out there to guide you. I like Balance and Headspace.
Tip 4: Get out in nature
Did you notice during lockdown the amount of birdsong that filled the air? A reduction in people, vehicles and pollution seems to have allowed the natural world to blossom, so take time each day to walk in a local forest, beach or park, as we are programmed to feel at our best when we are close to nature (there has been research to suggest our brains enjoy the repetitive patterns found in nature – such as rows of trees or waves – and that repetitive pattern actually helps to calm our brain).
Tip 5: Create a beautiful space in your home
So many of us are now working from home, and with partners, children, homeschool, pets and everything else on top of it, for many of us that translates into chaos. If you can, find a space – however small – where you can create a small sanctuary to relax in. Make that space as beautiful as you can. That doesn’t need to be expensive. A few plants, or some fresh flowers, might be all you need. But keep that space clutter-free and technology free.
Tip 6: Be realistic
The truth is, this is a challenging times. And there will be occasions when the world seems to be full of things for us to fear. It’s okay that you don’t feel great most of the time, and your life isn’t a perfect tranquil routine of meditation, yoga and green juice. But talk to a friend when you are feeling down. If you open up, you will find that almost everyone else is experiencing exactly the same emotions, and just sharing those feelings occasionally will help reduce your anxiety.
If you are feeling brave, drop a comment below about some of the feelings and experiences you’ve been going through. You never know who will read those comments, or how it might help that person if they relate to what you have to say.