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07 Apr 2020

5 Key Tips to help you look after your mental health TODAY

Sharon Draper

Stressed about COVID-19, about the consequences of the virus, about being confined to a space with your family members, about managing working from home?

In the latest Tech Fest webinar, leading Psychologist Sharon Draper (from her couch) provided some tips and strategies to stay mentally well and enable you to adapt to the situation.

Here’s an overview of what she shared – if you want to take in all of her valuable advice, be sure to check out the full webinar.

When we go through uncertain times, most people feel a compulsion to take control. It’s a safety instinct. But, if the Coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we can’t control everything.

While controlling everything is impossible, it is possible to short circuit the stress of uncertainty by managing our feelings of panic, anxiety (and even feelings of irritation towards the people we live with).

In short, we need to be kinder to ourselves. We can start doing that today by:

 

  1. Becoming more self-aware. Ask yourself ‘what are my triggers?’ When I am feeling extra stressed or unable to cope, recognise the things that could be influencing that reaction, identify the underlying value and find ways to live more according to that value – e.g. needing time alone or limiting the amount of time spent focusing on the news media.

 

  1. Practicing self-care and self-compassion. Find ways to build your emotional reserves. Stay connected, stay active, stay relaxed and rested. Sleep is one of the most important ways to self-care. Journaling can help you process what you’re feeling. Visualisation. Meditation. Deep breathing exercises. Taking in nature. Remember that it is productive to let certain thoughts go.

 

  1. Communicating clearly. Living together in close proximity makes communication all the more important. Assuming your partner or whoever you live with knows what you are thinking and feeling can cause unnecessary problems. Expecting others to meet your needs isn’t helpful so taking care to meet your own needs is more productive. Also, keep in mind that communication is a two-way street – seek first to understand, then to be understood.

 

  1. Maintaining emotional connection. Physical isolation shouldn’t mean social isolation. It is important to recognise the negative effects loneliness can have and take steps to curb it.  Be creative about connecting with people – catch up online, play games, exercise – but even simply calling someone instead of texting or smiling at people can be a way to connect.

 

  1. Having a flexible work structure. It’s good to have a routine, but in these unusual times be compassionate with yourself about sticking to one. A good sleep routine is key - try to get up and go to bed at the same time. It’s a matter of trial and error - don’t beat yourself up if you don’t follow your routine to the letter. Try to add new practices that will improve your routine – put on work clothes at the start of the day, close that laptop when work is done, incorporate self-care into your routine.

By following these tips, we are more likely to keep calm. While they won’t necessarily resolve everything (they won’t cure COVID-19 or the challenges it brings), but they will help us deal with the feelings it brings in a more positive way.

Over the coming weeks the Tech Fest webinar series will bring more of the world’s most prominent experts sharing insights and inspiring collaboration. Spots are limited - join the mailing list so you can stay updated and don’t miss out.

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