This blog post is about how to revisit your routine to boost and support your mental health. We are all dealing with very uncertain circumstances with regards to the various lockdown levels and their extension/s and it is important to prioritize your mental health throughout. One way to do this is to revisit your current routine and check in what you are doing for your mind, body and spirit to support your mental health.
Boost your mental health with a refreshed routine
In terms of coping with the lockdown, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We need to go back to basics, and remember the importance of a routine. We see this advice everywhere, but perhaps we need to think about why a routine is so crucial during this time. We are facing so much change outside of ourselves at the moment and a routine gives us some level of normality and predictability amidst the uncertainty. A routine allows us to buffer the effects of this external change and minimize its impact.
What can you do to support your Mind, Body, and Spirit?
Remember our brain is a vital organ to carry us in this time, we need to keep our minds stimulated and be aware of our thoughts and emotions. We should try to keep to our regular times of going to sleep and rising in the mornings, a rested mind is a good asset right now! With a good sleep routine, our brain has the opportunity to process overnight and we can buffer the negative impact the external change has on our mood and motivation.
Another way to support our mental health via our mind is to reframe what this lockdown period means. We can make use of positive psychology which is an approach within the psychological field that focuses on “what can work, and how we can improve” as opposed to a problem focused approach by only looking at the challenges and what is not working. We can reframe this lockdown period as an opportunity or a time to rest. We can reframe concepts such as “I’m trapped at home” to “I’m staying safe and saving lives at home.” This does not take away the fact that we are experiencing tremendous loss, it just allows us to refocus our energy into developing what is working.
Resources to support your mind
- Free audio books from Amazon on Audible – available in 6 languages with free trials
- Coursera | Online Courses & Credentials From Top Educators. Join for Free for highly-rated free courses
- Free Online Courses | Harvard University – Access to free online courses
- Textbooks | What We Publish – 700 free educational texts from Cambridge press
Mental Health related platforms and apps
- Guided Meditation and Mindfulness – The Headspace App
- Insight Timer – #1 Free Meditation App for Sleep, Relax & More
- Stop Breathe Think – www.stopbreathethink.com
- MindShift™ CBT
- Calm – The #1 App for Meditation and Sleep
- Sleepa: Relaxing sounds, Sleep
- Happify: Science-Based Activities and Games
- Your emotional health assistant with youper
- Lower your anxiety with FearTools
- Coping with self-harm – Calm Harm – https://calmharm.co.uk/#row1
- Home | Woebot – Your charming robot friend who is here for you, 24/7
- Captain Calm – Tools and Techniques for happier kids.
- The School of Life London | Wisdom For Resilience is an organisation dedicated to helping people lead more fulfilled lives – their youtube channel has a range of videos across several topics, many of which are very psychologically minded.
- Daily webinar series on mental health and wellbeing during times of Covid-19
- Care for Your Coronavirus Anxiety – a series of articles across corona-related mental health topics
- Hey Sigmund – this website contains the latest research and news in psychology
- How to Mental Health: Lockdown Edition podcast by South African Counselling psychologists. Available on Spotify or Apple Podcasts
- Make a list of 10 things that typically bring you joy and adapt them to lockdown conditions (e.g travel and cooking – adapt it to watching travel shows or look at airbnb online experiences etc.)
- WildEarth on Youtube conducts live virtual safaris twice a day (Sunrise and Sunset safaris) – The first +-45 minutes of the sunset drive is dedicated to kids. They also have an interactive platform where individuals can ask questions by hashtagging on twitter.
- Learn to cook Cape Malay Curry on Airbnb experiences and support our fellow South Africans locals!
- Get creative with Lily Brannon, check out her website for social art events and more!
When it comes to your body, we need to support it by keeping its routine. This can include keeping a regular diet as well as performing some form of daily exercise. This may seem challenging with all the restrictions that we are facing, but remember to keep it simple. If you can move your body for 15 minutes a day, it’s a start. You can try exercises like jumping jacks, skipping, finding a flight of stairs nearby, or doing housework which also gets your body moving. Now that we have gone into level 4 lockdown restrictions, you are allowed to cycle, run and walk but this will have to be done in your neighbourhood and within a 5km radius. Furthermore, if you choose to exercise outside of your home, it must be between 06:00am and 09:00am.One must also be aware that all outdoor activities are to be performed while wearing a cloth face mask to protect your own, and others’ health.
A gentle reminder that it’s also okay not to work out – if all you can do is get out of bed, shower, and change into a fresh set of PJ’s, that’s fine too! I encourage you to set yourself one goal a day – something that you’ve been putting off but you know will make you feel better – and do it. Give your body permission to rest and change during this time of restricted movement.
Resources for your body
- SuperCook Recipe By Ingredient on the App Store allows you to plan meals based on the ingredients you have at home
- Down Dog | Great Yoga Anywhere – yoga and workout app
- Nike Training Club App. Home Workouts & More – free and can be adjusted by duration of workout and intensity
- Yo Yoga – SA yoga studio offering some free online classes on their YouTube channel
- Cosmic Kids Yoga – a yoga-based Youtube channel for younger kids
- SWEAT – Workout At Home With Women Worldwide
We want to keep a routine here too, when I refer to spirit this simply involves connecting with something outside of ourselves. Whether this includes social support or connecting via your faith or higher power, it need not be religious but more about connecting beyond yourself, reaching out to your loved ones or those we find support from. This being said, connecting with something outside of yourself does not necessarily involve direct human interaction. It could involve listening to music or watching comedy to impact our mood.
Loneliness is very likely to occur, whether we are in lockdown alone or with our families, loneliness is certainly possible. It can be challenging to tackle but connection must be prioritized as we know that good quality relationships are really important for our mental health, our well-being and overall health. Therefore it is imperative that we be intentional about connecting with others. Whether this is by allocating time with those in your home, or those that are outside of our spaces right now. Mealtimes are helpful for this, schedule a meeting over your lunch hour and “spend lunch” with someone.
Online resources for your spirit
- Online gaming and apps
- Play 900+ Board Games Online for Free • Tabletopia – access to hundreds of online games that you can play with family (near and far)
- Candy Crush Saga – Good old candy crush
- Houseparty – Face to Face Social Network
- Zoom: Video Conferencing, Web Conferencing, Webinars, Screen Sharing
- TikTok – Make Your Day
- Faith based apps
- 30 best PC games to play right now
- 10 Online Games That Will Keep You Busy During The Lock Down
- Free Multiplayer Games You Can Play With Friends During the Lockdown | The Quint
- Notpron by David Münnich – The Hardest Riddle Available on the Internet – There are 140 levels, and is more for an adult audience as it involves complex concepts like morse code, ASCII Code etc.
- Social support and mental health support
Finding a psychologist or mental health practitioner online
- Visit/contact your trusted GP or local doctor and ask if they have any trusted referrals nearby
- Google your area for psychologists, usually you will get a range of results and direct websites of practitioners to browse
- TherapyRoute – Find a therapist near you (great South African platform with good search parameters)
- Psychology Today: South Africa: Health, Help, Happiness + Find Counselling ZA
- Medpages – the who, what and where of healthcare
- Therapists Online Therapists Online: Home
- Therapist Directory – Find Psychologists and Counsellors in SA
- Findhelp: Psychologists, therapists, social workers, occupational therapists, psychiatrists, and counsellors
Don’t take the bait. Do what you are comfortable with.
A final reminder for your coping during the lockdown period, there will be motivational pressure around us. There has always been some level of competition on social media for example seeing someone else exercising a lot more, or you’re seeing them being incredibly productive. Don’t take the bait. Do what you are comfortable with.
If you find that high productivity works for you, then do that. If you feel that more down time and “me-time” works for you, then that’s what you need for more balance. Everyone will respond differently under stressful and uncertain circumstances, you just need to make sure that you are doing what is best for your Mind, Body, and Spirit, to best support your mental health.
Thank you to those who contributed to this collection of resources.
Maja Kwiatkowski Therapy Begins Here
Please feel free to chat in the comments around any of these suggestions if you try them or any extras to add to the post!