Noor, living with MS, shares her top tips for what helps her.
“How are you doing during this strange time?”
How many texts, emails or conversations have you started with that question recently? It almost seems impossible to avoid. “It” being coronavirus and the drastic impact it has been having on our lives the world over.
We are bombarded by news articles and headlines. The queues at the supermarket are enough to drive anyone mad. Most of us are sick of virtual meet ups and just want to leave the house to be with our loved ones. Through all of this, how are we managing the inevitable anxiety and looking after our wellbeing?
As a low intensity therapist for the NHS, this is something I’m working to manage with my patients daily. And I’m even working on it within myself. Here are my top tips to looking after your wellbeing.
1. Maintain a routine
Try to wake up at the same time and go to bed at a similar time to create regularity. By doing this and scheduling day to day tasks, it helps give structure and focus to your day.
2. Identify worries
When you feel anxious try to identify if the worries are hypothetical or practical. A practical worry is something you can do something about. Whereas a hypothetical one is often about something that hasn’t happened yet, and that you don’t know will ever happen. Just realising this can be really helpful and can help you reflect if worrying about it will change anything in this very moment.
3. Try to exercise
It’s not about getting a 6 pack and it’s not about running 10k daily. It might be 10 star jumps, it might be using a skipping rope. You could do laps of your living room for 5 minutes or run up and down the stairs 7 times. Alternatively, how about some chair yoga or a few stretches where you are sat? Your home is your playground.
4. Keep a balanced diet
It’s very easy to snack or eat unhealthily when we are bored or feeling low and anxious. Try to drink water regularly and eat your fruit and veg to maintain general wellbeing.
5. Don’t beat yourself up
There is no pressure to come out of lockdown as a new person, speaking 3 new languages, having lost weight and learned a new skill. Sometimes, we just want to relax, and do a lot of that. That’s OK, that is really OK.
6. Do something you enjoy
Most of us have a bit more time now. Pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read, slow down that morning coffee, sit down for that lunch. This may be the most time you ever have, what a silver lining.
7. Change out of your pjs
It’s very tempting not to change in the morning if we are working from home or are simply self-isolating, but getting changed puts us in a more energetic mindset. It helps us to create a mental difference between time to be awake and time to go to bed or rest.
8. Create a separate homeworking space
If you're working from home. I live in a small space so I have quite an appreciation for making a specific space to work in and then having separate living space. This helps us to separate our work from our home life in some way.
I work on one end of my dining table, then at the end of the day I clear away my laptop out of sight and I eat at the other side. If you have a study or spare room that can be very helpful, but if not, even small tricks like mine can be helpful.
9. Take your daily walk or find a way to connect with nature
Being out in open air can be very mind-clearing and refreshing after a day of being indoors. I don’t have a garden so my walk (or sometimes a pace with my cup of tea on my doorstep) gives me a chance to look at the sky, hear the birds and reset.
Another way to connect with the outdoors could be to place a chair by a window or, if this is not available to you, try closing your eyes and listening to nature sounds. This can be very relaxing and help you to refocus.
Not all of these tips will work for everyone but take what works for you. It is so important to look after ourselves during this time.
As my dad always says, “Your health is your wealth” and there has been no better time to remind myself of that. Our mental and physical health are one. Stay safe and keep well in your own body, listening to it and respecting its boundaries during this time.