A few tips to living a life that is happier and healthier; and using this time of incubation and rest to form new habits which will carry on to the rest of our lives. Please note: If you have serious mental health concerns please contact your healthcare professional.
10 Tips For Mental Health In Isolation
Tip 1: Exercise
1. Stay active Getting a sweat session 3 – 5 times a week is great to boost endorphins; also known as happy hormones. Keeping fit is a good way to structure your day and stay motivated! Online workouts can be found virtually anywhere with many trainers going online – so shop around and find the best home workout for you. Some form of movement can be done every day; it might not be wise to over exercise however a gentle yoga flow, stretches, a walk (at social distance) with friends and family you’re isolating with, a little solo dance party doesn’t hurt either.
Tip 2: Eat Wholefoods
- Now more than ever we need to take care of our immune systems and overall health. We are all in the same boat, and understand it is easy to over eat and eat junk when stuck at home! Here are some tricks to help you help yourself: pre cook and pre cut food; cucumber sticks and hummus, precooked quinoa, sweet potato, rice, curry, soups, steamed veggies, and so on! All these things keep great and make for an easy snack or meal whipped up in no time! Staying hydrated is also hugely important; not only to simply be hydrated but a lot of us confuse being thirsty for being hungry and thus the snacking begins! If you feel like you need to eat something but your stomach is full, try drinking a litre of water and waiting twenty minutes. Adding superfoods to your dishes will also help your body fight infection; add things like turmeric, fresh garlic, apple cider vinegar, broccoli, dark leafy greens, ginger, ginseng, green tea, sunflower
seeds, berries, hemp, bone broths, and coconut yoghurt. Most whole and plant based foods will aid the immune system.
Tip 3: Practice Gratitude
Start a gratitude journal This may be a tough time for all of us, especially those of us with a history of mental illness! However, practices like gratitude journals help us to get back to a state of restfulness and remembrance that we have more than enough to be thankful for. If we are reading this it is likely that we have an internet connection, shelter, food, loved ones close by (even via skype), clean running water, plumbing, an area of nature to ourselves, a warm bed, supplies to create with, ETC. We are lucky enough to have time and psychological space to be grateful; and therefore we must step further towards that for those who are not so lucky.
Tip 4: Watch Yourself
Look at the things that surround you – you are a product of your environment so assess the people, activities, instagram accounts, tv shows, habits, food etc that you are consuming. There is a famous saying; ‘you are a product of your environment’ similar to ‘you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with’. The things we expose ourselves to become part of who we are. Therefore this is an excellent time to truly take a look at everything in our realities; to let toxic relationships go, to stop watching television shows that lower our vibrations, to stop eating junk food, to clear out what shows up on our social media accounts and following only people who inspire good things in us, redecorating with inspiring pieces of decor that make us happy, take time to quit the bad habits, and create new good habits to carry on even after isolation. Write down the person you want to be in five years, and begin making steps to becoming that person TODAY.
Tip 5: Breathe Deep
Learn to breathe properly In times of stress, our breathing becomes shallow and short. With much uncertainty in the world right now a lot of us might be finding breathing difficult. There are a vast number of techniques out there, but this one is simple and trusted to slow your heart rate, and come out of it in a more relaxed state of mind.
– Lie down on your back, close the eyes, place your hands on your lower stomach. Inhale deeply, filling your belly for four seconds. Next, exhale slowly for eight seconds, making sure the lower stomach deflates first. Hold the exhale out for two seconds. Then, simply repeat this process for five minutes. It can be done sitting or for a longer or shorter period of time – however this suggested method is optimal. We are often breathing into our chests with longer inhales than exhales. This tells the body we are in a state of fight or flight as opposed to the parasympathetic nervous system which is used in a rest and digest mode (characterized by longer exhales and slower belly breathing.)
Tip 6: Get Creative
Did you know that boredom can lead to increased levels of creativity? Try sitting and doing nothing for 15 minutes. Just find a nice place to sit. Then simply watch your mind wander and day dream; soon creative ideas will be swirling around in that wonderful brain of yours. In this time where we cannot go outside; we can go further inside. Finding a way to express all that we find inside ourselves helps us to feel connected, revived and inspired. This could be painting, singing, playing an instrument, dance, yoga, drawing, photography, creating an app, or anything else you can think of!
Tip 7: Just Be
While we may be thinking of things to DO in this time; maybe we just want to BE. Give yourself permission to step out of the usual hustle and bustle. Sleep in, walk slowly, eat slowly, take a long bath, read for hours, don’t set your alarm, phone a friend and don’t check the time, drink tea on the porch, pick wildflowers, go for a walk outside (if your country allows; and in safe social distance). Don’t get caught in the trap that we must continue to operate in fifth gear constantly. You and your nervous system deserve the rest.
Tip 8: Stay Connected
Physical distance and social distance are two very different things. We might not be able to go and hang out with our friends and those we don’t live with; but this doesn’t need to stop us connecting to them! Facetime your loved ones whenever you need to, every day if you like! Check up on those you love, especially ones who might be isolated on their own. Offer to drop off supplies to people if they are unable to themselves. If you know any older people it would make their day to hear from you, just to feel loved and supported.
Tip 9: Go Inward
If you are one of the lucky ones who have their basic needs covered; you might like to treat this as a self retreat. With so much time to ourselves we can use it for self exploration with online yoga classes, meditation apps, time for mindfulness activities like walks in silence connecting to nature, chanting mantra, having long mediation sessions, reading books on spirituality, listening to podcasts, putting bare feet on the earth; whatever makes you feel connected to yourself.
A few great resources for inward activities are:
The Practice Online (a tantric hatha yoga school based in Bali; one of the best in the world)
One Giant Mind app (an app that teaches you an ancient vedic mediation technique; this is unlike most regular guided meditations in that it teaches you a mantra based technique that you can carry on for years to come. It is part of a lineage with roots in India; a very special resource)
Glo (previously Yoga Glo – this is an app with everything mindfulness; every stye of yoga, every length of time, guided meditations, Yoga Nidra, you name it. It is lead by some of the best teachers in the world)
Sanctuary (An app entirely run by Rod Stryker; a world renowned yoga teacher; he has a multitude of different styles of yoga and mindfulness practices to drop into)
Aubrey Marcus Podcast (Everything from human optimisation, to entrepreneurship, to plant medicine, to deep spirituality; this podcast covers it all. Aubrey is known along with the likes of Joe Rogan, as one of the fathers of podcasts)
Here and Now Network / Ram Dass podcast (This podcast is an archive of spiritual teacher Ram Dass’s lectures from the 1970s – 1990s. It speaks about some pretty far out spiritual topics, which sometimes need multiple listens to truly understand; but Ram Dass has humour and a grounded explanation of many complex topics that make this enjoyable and extremely inspiring. There is a synopsys of the lecture at the beginning that often lasts up to about 20 minutes; I often simply skip this to get straight to Ram!) –
The Energi Impact Podcast! (Not to float our own boat but we have many impressive guests on our podcast to speak about a plethora of positive topics; from the health of ourselves to the health of the environment and most things in between! Check it out!
Tip 10: Dream; and dream big
Now is the time to reflect on ourselves and the effects we’ve been having on the world around us. What do you desire once we are stabilised enough to restart life? If you believe that everything happens for a reason; maybe it is time to live in more harmony with nature, to have more unity with humanity, to live more simply, to live slower, to reduce greed, to buy from sustainable brands, for the governments to step up against climate change more than just banning plastic straws. Who do you want to be after this isolation period? Reflect on who you are, what you embody, and what you stand for. How are you going to be a better person once this all blows over? Dream for whatever reality you like. Afterall, this virus has certainly showed us that anything is possible.