Maintaining good mental health in unpredictable times
COVID has really shaken our stability in our lives and this has a big impact psychologically.
To understanding mental health, we have to go back to when our brains were formed. As humans we still have the same desires as when we were hunters and gatherers:
- To socialise and find our tribe and to be safe
- And to create babies, but we don’t need to talk about that one now🤣
Safety equals predictability and stability for example: a regular pay-check, a home to live in, peoples behaviours, access to food, a car that starts each time, understanding change, having choice, regular bed and waking time, and so on. Our brains can also get confused with the stressors of modern society such as deadlines, social expectations and technology and this can also be interpreted as an impact on our safety aswell.
Humans have a need to feel connected and a part of a group, have our pack keeps us safe and gives us a sense of purpose (sorry it’s to create babies again! We are animals!). Being isolated and alone can be quite detrimental to our mental health.
Society puts a pressure on us to just deal with all of this change, lack of control and unpredictability and it goes against our genetic makeup. This can really shake you and interfere with your psychology and wellbeing, here are a few ways to combat it:
- Create as much routine as possible bedtime, working hours, a morning routine, work clothes, meal plans, exercising, ect.
- Set yourself tasks for the day and celebrate success If the world isn’t going to give you dopamine hits you can create then yourself! Set tasks to do and when complete reward yourself with something you like e.g. your favourite song, some self-praise, a break, or a piece of chocolate.
- Give your brain a break It is important we find time for things we enjoy and for our brains to connect with the hippocampus (this reduces stress), try something calming or creative. Some great ideas including drawing/painting, gardening, meditation, puzzles, make up, dancing, reading, play, walking, being in nature, yoga or stretching.
- Create connection It is hard to feel deep connection when isolated or stressed, so first make sure you are present, and your mind is clear. Then spend some extra time with your family, call an old friend, or have a long conversation with your partner. The ones where you feel really listened too are the best!
- Create moments of joy This can sometimes be difficult to do if you’re stuck in a rut, but I challenge you to have a little dance party of your own, cook a meal that makes you happy, catch up with a friend who always makes you laugh, or try something new that will be a bit silly and fun.
- Acknowledge this is out of your control and doing your best COVID has really shaken our stability in our lives and you need to accept that many of the things that were previously keeping you well are now unpredictable in your life and this has a big impact psychologically. Some things right now are not in your control and therefore cannot be your fault or failure.
Do your best each day and stay connected, we will ride through this together.
Stay safe Darwin 💙