How to improve our mental fitness and boost wellbeing post lockdown
As the world opens up to the ‘new normal’ many of us are filled with anxiety about going back to our typical everyday lives.
After a year of being stuck at home without any normal social interactions that doesn’t involve zoom – we’re glad to see the back of those – it’s no surprise that lockdown has had some lasting effects on our mental health.
Mental fitness is just as important as our physical fitness, just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t as significant. In this post-pandemic world, we have to take the time to work on our mental health and undo some of the psychological distress caused by Covid.
As human beings, we are naturally social creatures. Socialising is vital for us to remain mentally healthy and we’re always looking at ways to try to boost our wellbeing. But it’s easier said than done, right?
That’s where psychotherapist Noel McDermott comes to our rescue. We caught up with him for some advice on how we can stay on top of our mental fitness.
So, what is mental fitness and why is it so important?
Mental fitness comes from firstly ensuring we understand our bodies’ needs. Are we hungry, are we tired, are we thirsty, do we have an injury or an infection? We are currently always asking ourselves if we have post-viral or covid symptoms. It’s about working with the physical and connecting it to the psychological because they are the same thing.
With physical fitness, we all understand that if we wish to be fit, we must be active, or go to the gym regularly and eat well. Similarly, we can improve our psychological fitness through regular healthy psychological habits and choices.
How do you know if your mental fitness has been affected?
Drinking more or becoming reliant on alcohol: Alcohol consumption and drug misuse has grown as many of us have switched to ordering online.
Feelings of increased anxiety/depression. The pandemic has increased anxiety and depression because of the uncertainty about our safety and our future.
Disordered eating, weight loss/increase. With changes in our everyday routines, we can admit that we’ve taken on some unhealthy eating habits that result in mood fluctuations and a poor outlook on life.
3 quick tips to help improve our mental health…
- Do a lifestyle audit — how much of your time is going into mental fitness?
- Do at least three things per day that will improve your mental fitness – for example walking in the park, socialising with loved ones and making sure you rest or relax
- Start a course of mindfulness meditation – probably the single most useful contribution you will ever make to your mental fitness
How can we improve our mental fitness?
We need to understand emotions and look of out for early warning signs of distress and unhealthy coping mechanisms and then learn to act on those. From disturbed sleeping patterns, changes in appetite or sudden weight gain or loss, to mood swings, increased anger and using alcohol, drugs or food to cope, it’s all being aware of these changes and working on them.
Behaviour changes and behaviour activation:
Ensure you exercise regularly especially outdoors, have a good routine around social activity and social connections and a hoof sleep. As they saying goes you are what you eat so make sure to have regular healthy meals, drink plenty of water and reduce your alcohol consumption.
Manage unhelpful thinking:
It’s time to recognise unhelpful negative thoughts and replace them with more balanced thinking (I feel like a failure, but I managed to achieve X today, or I have a loving family etc). These unhelpful thinking styles will reduce motivation for taking action to change and create a vicious cycle. Ditch this black and white version of thinking your thoughts effect your feelings, speak to yourself kindly.
Exposure and emotional challenge:
Now many of us are feeling worried about going out in groups, back to work and socialising so we try to avoid the feeling of being uncomfortable. Avoidance and procrastination are classic signs of anxiety. But socialising and being in groups are very closely linked to our wellbeing and pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone it has so many benefits. We should challenge the fear!
If you feel like you need some further support visit Noel’s website: www.noelmcdermott.net