Creating time each day to check-in with yourself and how you are doing is a small but vital thing you can do to create space for yourself and notice if there is anything you need.

World Mental Health Day 2020 – Staying well while staying in

Saturday marked World Mental Health Day 2020, and as we all continue to do our best to adjust to the changes happening around us, it’s never been more important to take care of our mental health. Autumn is here and with COVID-19 guidance likely to change for many of us soon, being able to stay well even if you need to stay in is vital. For Mental Health Awareness Day this year, Mind‘s campaign has centred around doing one thing today to support your mental wellbeing, and here at Dot Dot Dot we’ve put together some ideas of what that one thing could be for you.

Structure your day

Working from home has become the norm for many, and often this can mean sitting in one room, or one spot for the whole day. Old routines have disappeared overnight, and work and personal time can all roll into one. Splitting up the day and setting a new routine for yourself can be a really powerful way to motivate yourself and hold yourself accountable for the day’s tasks.

Anything from simply blocking time in your calendar, to writing lists, to using an app, can help. The app Forest gives you a virtual tree to nurture while you stay productive and away from your phone. You can set a time (such as 50 minutes to make time for 10 minute breaks in between), in which your tree will begin to grow. If you unlock your phone screen you will kill the tree, so it will make you think twice about checking social media! The app is a great way to stay present and focused and is a nice way to break up time.

Make time for breaks, and get outside if you can

When working from home, many of us take fewer, or shorter breaks, and this can all lead to feelings of overwhelm and of being cut off from the outside world. Breaks are incredibly important for keeping up energy and concentration levels throughout the day, and exercise is essential for maintaining good mental wellbeing. Just a short walk can be enough! Even with the colder weather setting in, find a time to take a daily walk each day if you can and factor this into your routine.

Take notice of your mental wellbeing

Creating time each day to check-in with yourself and how you are doing is a small but vital thing you can do to create space for yourself and notice if there is anything you need. Make some time to sit for a few minutes and be present with how you are feeling, you could also do this on your daily walk.

If you are feeling some anxiety, AnxietyUK suggests practising the APPLE technique:

  • Acknowledge: Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.
  • Pause: Don’t react as you normally do. Don’t react at all. Pause and breathe.
  • Pull back: Tell yourself this is just the worry talking, and this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary. It is only a thought or feeling. Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are not statements or facts.
  • Let go: Let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don’t have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.

Explore: Explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell. Right now. Then shift your focus of attention to something else – on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry, or do something else – mindfully with your full attention.

A little goes a long way

There are also some very small things you can do anytime, any day, that can have a really positive impact on your daily life and wellbeing. Here’s a few ideas:

  • Buy a new plant, or some flowers to brighten up your home or your workspace.
  • Try out a new recipe.
  • Learn something new – sign up to an online course, read some non-fiction or watch a documentary.
  • Take a walk somewhere you haven’t been before.
  • Reach out to a friend you haven’t checked in with in a while.

Connect with those around you, and with your community

Feeling connected to others is a really important part of maintaining wellbeing, and the ways that we do that have changed dramatically over the last few months but have become more important than ever. There are plenty of ways you can keep connected or reach out to build new relationships.

Make sure you have at least one check-in with a colleague or friend each day, even if it’s just to ask how they are, or how their week is going; you never know how much they might need it too. Building relationships with those in your community can be a great way to feel more connected. Is there a local cause you’d like to contribute your time to, or perhaps you could join your area’s Mutual Aid group? There’s also plenty of causes you can volunteer time to remotely.

We are always so inspired by the volunteering that our guardians do, and know that for many this is an important way of improving their own mental wellbeing. We will be discussing more about the benefits of volunteering in an upcoming blog in November, and you can find out more about our guardians and their volunteering stories over on our Instagram page.

If working from home is getting you down, why not get involved in volunteering in your local area? Check out our guide for how and where to volunteer during the Covid-19 crisis.