Most people have probably had times where they’ve felt low, or sad, or frustrated, or stressed because of lockdown. We all have good days and bad days and some may have it better or worse than others. Clearing my head has been a go-to in times where I’ve found myself struggling and certain activities have been really helpful for stopping me from feeling low for too long.
There is a lot of advice out there and it’s all about finding out what works for YOU and YOUR personality. We are all unique with different interests so one thing might work well for me but not so well for you and vice-versa.
Since life is so restricted now, it actually gives lots of us an opportunity to look at different things that might suit us and then tailor them to a routine that works best. Having a routine of things that work well supports our mental health and encourages positivity in a time where positivity is in demand!
I’ve spent time thinking about how I’m feeling and what works for me and have tailored my own routine to help me, especially through the moments where I find myself struggling.
Since everyone has been advised to keep all physical contact with other people to an absolute minimum, this has left a huge gap in our emotional needs.
This is a need so this gap must be filled! Using a variety of apps, we can be speaking regularly to friends and family over video chat. Be it Zoom, WhatsApp, Facebook, Houseparty, Snapchat, or TikTok, we can keep our relationships alive and honestly, I’ve found that I speak to my friends and family more than I did before lockdown!
Being able to see them whilst sharing our thoughts, playing games, doing quizzes, helping each other and generally just keeping each other company is great for clearing your head and keeping you mentally healthy.
This one seems like such a cliché, but my goodness does it work! I have always wanted to look and feel healthier. Now I have all this extra time to think about what I want and pursue it too. There is something about exercise that just makes you feel great. That sense of accomplishment once you’ve finished is hard to beat and the feeling you can do something you couldn’t before, be it more push-ups, or a longer plank, is truly worth the hard work.
A great exercise for clearing my head is Yoga. If it’s good enough for professional footballers, rugby players and the rest then it’s good enough for me. I had one client who thought this was just for women. No, it’s for us guys too! I’ve only been doing it for 3 weeks and I already feel so much stronger and fitter. The other plus is yoga is hard work but also relaxing. I think the main reason it’s so effective is that it focuses on breathing. Yoga emphasises the importance of breathing slowly and deeply while you exercise which has a miraculous effect on how calm and how clear the mind and body feels. I know that sounds a bit crazy but it really works! After a Yoga session, I feel like my mind is clear and that I am at peace. There are different levels of yoga but a great place to start is 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene. It is designed for beginners and her laid-back style is so welcoming and easy to follow.
It’s not just for kids – I’m also a lover of Joe Wicks P.E. which you can watch anytime on his youtube channel – The Body Coach TV. You can literally work off the boredom, tiredness, and can’t be bothered-ness. His buzzing energy will give you that bit of motivation and if you like having a bit of a laugh then this is a great fit. Talking of which, he will certainly help you become more fit too! I feel on top of the world at the end of his sessions and you will too. What have you got to lose, just give it a go!
Another exercise that I’ve found excellent at clearing my head is a good old walk! We are allowed to leave our homes for exercise and this should definitely be utilised for looking after our mental health. Getting a break from the same four walls (or even the people we live with), going for an easy stroll and watching the rest of the world go by does wonders for calming the mind. If walking doesn’t excite you there are other options, cycling and running are just as good if not better!
Without fail, every time I start to feel fed up or, have a lack of motivation, I remember that I’ve forgotten to do the things that make me happy. I love listening to music. It’s a great way to distract from worry or unhelpful thoughts that can sometimes dominate and overwhelm us. Listening to music can be relaxing, distracting, mood-altering, and uplifting and is a really great tool that can help clear your head. I find it so much better than the TV. Put on your favourite music and start to feel transformed.
I also love food and everything about it. I love looking out for, and trying, new recipes, but most of all I love to cook. When I am in the zone of cooking, my mind has a break from everything else and it focuses purely on the task of making the most delicious dish and I push myself to improve on my skills every time. It’s as if I’ve taken a break from the world for that moment and I’m in my happy place. This is the ultimate headspace for me.
We all have our own likes and interests. Maybe some of us haven’t worked them out yet and that’s ok. Many of us are finding ourselves with more time so I’d encourage anyone to spend some time thinking about the things you enjoy. You may even have the time to look these interests up and do some research which can be a rewarding and exciting experience on its own, it’s great for finding motivation.
I get that finding motivation can be tough sometimes. A method I use to combat this is the “test mindset”. It’s basically an experiment on yourself. Try something you think you might like for a certain time, like a daily workout for 7 days, and see how you feel during and after it. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to do it and you now know that it isn’t for you OR you find that you actually love it, it makes you feel healthier and happier. You don’t lose anything, you either gain a new interest or you learn something about yourself and it’s only a week! This can be a really effective mindset for finding new interests or encouraging exercise, especially for those who lack motivation there.
Now that you have made it through all the suggestions and advice, it’s really important to know that it’s totally fine to be fed up and have a bad day. We are all human and this is normal, it happens to everyone. We are allowed moments like these, but the trick is to work out how long we’re going to let ourselves feel bad and then pick ourselves back up from where we left off. Speaking to people that we love, doing the things we enjoy and staying active are all incredibly useful tools that you can use to help pick yourself back up and keep you feeling good!
Written by Ian Downie