As we are returning to life, I keep writing in my journal which helped free my mind and take control of my mental health during lockdown.
If you would had told me 4 months ago that we would be living in this surreal situation, fighting COVID-19 pandemic globally, I might not have believed you. A horror movie brought to reality! In such a short space of time, the virus has utterly transformed the employment landscape and people’s lives worldwide. But history taught us again that during crisis, there have been winners and losers. With billions of people in self-isolation, mental health is rapidly sweeping the globe. We are social creatures and we have evolved as a species that is hardwired to interact with others, more so in times of stress.
Resilience, technology and the mental health lessons Iearned during lockdown
There are some days when I feel on top of the world and empowered but there are other days when I feel helpless, wanting to crawl under my duvet. And that’s okay to not feel okay and have a bad day. While revisiting the lockdown period, my greatest win is learning to stop feeling ashamed that I wasn’t feeling positive and that things aren’t going great. There is a lot of strength having the courage to be vulnerable, to be authentic and true to yourself.This one lesson has changed my life and the way I do business. I experienced resilience at a whole new level and while it always has been a huge part of my life, I feel so much better knowing that I passed the test.
My business has taken a real hit, from losing all my clients to zero new client signups. For me it was swim or sink- I chose to swim and explore the different seas, and I have Technology to be thankful for not sinking! However, lockdown left me spending much more time than usual on technology. Not Great! I began to notice changes in my mental and physical health, mood, sleep, focus and productivity. This is not a healthy nor productive way of living. It’s draining! Newsflash, if you start to feel overwhelmed by the constant presence of technology, it’s a sign to step back. Begin with small changes in what you are doing.
Stop feeling ashamed of your feelings and start keeping a Journal to free your mind and take control of your mental health
Looking after my mental health and wellbeing comes with maintaining healthy sleep patterns and eating habits, both generating more energy and focus overall. Sleep is vital. I am so bad with my sleeping patterns but by seeking support has been a life changer. Developing a regular relaxing bedtime routine should be a non-negotiable part of your life. A good idea is to stop watching any screens at least an hour before bedtime and avoid mental over-stimulation from blue light from your screens/TV. Also, it is a good time to enjoy the things you like, such as reading a book (not on a tech device), have a warm soothing drink (non-alcoholic), a bath, listen to music or meditate or write in your journal.
As I am sharing my notes with you, I am looking at my journal, and if I would recommend anything for your mental health, is keeping a Journal. Keeping a journal is a simple but effective tool which can be so uplifting while reflecting on your circumstances and reevaluating your options moving forward. When committing yourself to writing down what is happening in your world, you unlock your feelings and allow your mind to flow. It is amazing how only 15 minutes in your daily routine could give you the clarity you need on the 70,000 thoughts going on in your head daily, and de- clutter your mind. Keeping a journal is great for both your personal life and business.
Keeping a journal helps you acknowledging your thoughts and feelings, even the most difficult ones like anxiety, grief, anger or boredom. Find a quiet place sitting with those thoughts and feeling acknowledging when and where y come up in the body. Perhaps you could even share what’s going on with someone you trust to help with the process and move you through them. Taking a new perspective on negative thoughts and feelings could bring a more positive outlook and multitude of positive effects on our mental and physical well-being, helping you to focus and re-energize.
Writing in your journal is not about recording your thoughts and feelings, or chronicle every last thing that happens to you during the day. Feel free to unleash your creativity, doodles and day dreams about being married to Prince Charming are allowed! Creativity helps you unwind, unleash it!
A great advantage of keeping a journal is being in a non-judgmental moment that brings back perspective and this is one of my favourite. It stops your mind wandering into thoughts about the past or the future which you may not need in that moment in time. During these difficult times it’s so easy for your attention to drift to all sorts of worries and worst-case scenarios that may never even happen.
After writing go for a walk, connect with nature , spend time outside in your garden or balcony every day, run, even better in a natural space nearby. Remember, no one really knows what the future holds so why not be safe and present rather than spiraling into negative thoughts and feelings.
Make journaling your daily routine. Schedule in before or after the non-negotiables like breakfast, lunch or dinner time and bedtime; if you have children, make the 15 minutes writing one of your top three priorities.
If you are still wondering where to find those magic 15 minutes for yourself, what worked for me at least, is taking control of the News intake. This has had a massive positive impact on my health, focus and drive in my business. If you want to stay in touch with the latest news, take control in how much you consume by checking once a day for updates; setting yourself a timer; choose the channels you listen to and try not to have news in the background. Be ready to block out the extra unnecessary noise from WhatsApp groups, social media and stop the notifications invading your space.
We might not go actively looking for the next challenge, but we both know that life’s toughest challenges actually provide the opportunity to shake up your life and understand what matters most. Stop feeling ashamed and start keeping a journal! It will help you push the boundaries, take the time to look at things from a different perspective, find a solution, forge on a new path, vision board planning, re-evaluate your business plan or even reinvent yourself. After having struggled with some big life changes myself, I focus on what seemed to keep me emotionally stable and inspired- even in the midst of external turmoil, my inner world is at peace. Take control of the things that you can control but let go of the uncontrollable- place your energy in what truly matters: you!