Just as we were starting to get into the swing of the “new normal”, we’ve been plunged into lockdown 2.0. Although some people might be excited about the chance to hibernate with some Christmas movies and a few gallons of hot chocolate, for many of us the reality of the new restrictions, on top of the shorter, rainier days, can take a big toll on our mental health.
Here’s four things you can do to try and keep your mental health on track during lockdown 2.0:
- Don’t be too hard on yourself
A helpful saying that i’ve heard this year is “we’re in the same storm, but we’re all in different boats”. Although we are all being affected by everything 2020 has thrown at us, the way we experience it is very different. That can be physically, due to things like finances and home situations, but also the way we handle situations mentally too. You might have people around you that seem to thrive in lockdown, and find that you’re being hard on yourself for not always seeing the silver lining.
Despite what social media might have you believe, this is a really tough time for a lot of people. You might be worried about your job, your family or just weighed down by things in the news – and that’s totally normal!
Make sure you take the time to acknowledge the feelings that you have, accept that it’s a normal part of living through such an uncertain time and don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t feeling 100%.
2. Make time to take care of yourself
Sometimes it can be all too easy to scroll through social media and the news and be bombarded with the latest updates on what’s going on. It can almost become addictive. Instead, try and focus on things that take your mind off the news and keep things positive.
For me, when I get stressed or feel like things are out of control, the first thing that I notice is that my room gets a lot messier than usual. That’s because sometimes the way we are feeling on the inside, actually ends up reflecting on the outside too. Whether that’s a messy room, being grouchy around your family or spending the whole day in your pyjamas, which is totally acceptable every now and then!
When everything else seems so out of our control, taking ownership over the little things (like giving your room a good tidy) is a great step towards clearing your mind too.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, pop your phone down, turn off the tv and do something that makes you happy. Maybe you could have a pamper afternoon and a relaxing bubble bath, snuggle up with a good book, or suggest a games night with your family. Anything that helps you focus back on the little blessings in your everyday.
3. Check your focus
Disciplining yourself to come to God when you aren’t feeling too great is one of the best habits to get into. Sometimes when our mental health has taken a bit of a hit or we feel like everything is getting on top of us, it can be really easy to focus on all the problems and push God to the side, when really our focus should be on Him.
Matthew 11:28- 30 says,
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
God doesn’t want us to struggle through life, being weighed down and unable to live freely and lightly. That means the best place to go when we are feeling overwhelmed and anxious is straight to Him. Ask Him to show you how to take a real rest and be honest with how you are feeling.
I find so much comfort in knowing that although each month of 2020 has brought me so many surprises, none of them were a surprise to Him. Where I feel out of control, he knows the beginning, the middle and the end of every situation and is walking right beside me.
4. Ask for help when you need it
This year has been difficult. No amount of banana bread, zoom quizzes or socially distanced walks can change that. If you are struggling and nothing seems to be helping to improve your mood then the best thing that you can do is talk to a responsible adult that you trust. You might find that they are feeling a bit anxious too and you can encourage each other and share some more tips, or maybe they can help you to explore other options to get you a little more help.
Through all the tough seasons that life throws at us, the most important thing to remember is that we never need to struggle on our own.
“I am Yahweh, your mighty God! I grip your right hand and won’t let you go!
I whisper to you: ‘Don’t be afraid; I am here to help you!”