November 30, 2020 | Aisling Dennett
It doesn’t matter how you choose to describe this period of history we seem to find ourselves in – challenging, unprecedented or one of the many euphemisms we have started using to basically say, it really just sucks. At this point that sums it up for most of us. The summer at least meant sunshine and being outside for distanced visits, but as we head into the winter months, it is important we make sure to prioritize our own mental health and wellness even more so and provide a foundation that supports our own resilience.
According to research, one of the strongest factors that can impact our resilience, is our mindset – how we frame a stressful event has strong implications for how we react to it. By seeing the stressful event as something to learn from or a challenge that can be overcome, we improve our ability to cope better and adapt quicker than those who see it as a threat.
“those who saw stressful events as opportunities had lower blood pressure, lower heart rates, and recovered faster after the stressful event was over.”
A study specific to the pandemic demonstrated this same result, those who were able to view this as an opportunity to learn something new, or grow as a person were the most resilient.
Feel free to chime in with a chorus of “easier said than done”. Especially if amidst everything, you are facing real grief, mental health difficulties, and economic struggles. However, this strategy does well when combined with another that you may have heard more of over this year, kindness and compassion. Of course for others, but also for ourselves. Spend the time to understand what you need to protect and improve our mental health and don’t hold yourself up to a standard that is not reasonable. Yoda was wrong, trying is enough some days, so instead of do and do nots, here are some try to dos, and try not to dos.
|Try to Dos||Try Not to Dos|
|Get support |
You can follow all the guidance, and still feel anxious or continue to struggle in some way. Seeking out support can help you to process your emotions and be able to deal with them in a healthier way.
None of us know what is going to happen in the next few months, so deal with you what you are able to. For today, you are doing your best and that is enough. Some people find mindfulness meditation a helpful way to stay in the moment.
|Set small goals|
Break big, difficult tasks into smaller, more manageable jobs. Or try a reverse to do list –a master list of what you want to accomplish and add them to your daily list of accomplishments and cross them off your master list. Just make sure to schedule in must dos like paying a bill, so you don’t miss the important stuff.
It can be very tempting, but try not to dwell on gloomy “what if” scenarios alone or in conversations with friends. Watch for negative thought patterns and challenge them when they arise, look for inspirational and positive sources of news or even quotations to help support a more positive mindset.
|Punctuate your day|
Research has shown us that walking and time in nature are the two things that most helped many cope with the stresses of the pandemic. This can also be effective in ensuring your working-from-home day doesn’t just bleed into your evening chill-out time. Go for a walk around the block with music after your work day – get your commute relaxation minus the traffic. Getting out in nature can have huge benefits in terms of cognitive function, attention, emotional wellbeing, and, of course, physical wellbeing.
|Overdo the news|
Stay vigilant about your news intake. It is easy to slip into the habit of checking the news every hour, to constantly check for updates on the lockdown status, on the mortality rates, and so on, but this can lead to a spike in anxiety and an increase in interrupted sleep.
|Look at your sleeping habits|
Sleep is essential for our mental health so make it a priority and try new routines that support a good night’s sleep. Listen to an audiobook with a sleep timer, start a practice with a short 10 minute guided meditation, snuggle in early with a herbal tea and a good book, and TURN OFF THE TV.
Don’t worry about how others are responding to the restrictions, you can’t do anything about them. It’s easy to let our fear or anxiety come out as anger towards others, gossip, or even angry outbursts. It’s hard, but try to lead with kindness even if people seem to be behaving irresponsibly.
|Rely on experience|
One of the benefits of the length of the pandemic is we can look back over the summer months and decide what worked for us and what didn’t. Ask yourself what was helpful then, and what you can take from that for now. What has been the difference between a good day and a bad day? Take note and use it to guide your habits on a regular basis.
|Neglect your health|
We often put a brave face on when times are hard and at the moment some people aren’t coming forward as often with health worries that might become significant issues. Whether it’s physical or mental health make sure you prioritize seeking support and help when needed.
|Evaluate your finances |
Make sure you are getting any benefits you are entitled to and reach out for help with any debt concerns you may have. This can be the thing we put off the longest, but the thing that is causing the most underlying anxiety. Knowing is better, then you get support and seek out resources.
|Withdraw too much |
When we are busy with work or struggling with family things it’s easy to put blinkers on and withdraw from friends and family. If you feel yourself pulling back from socializing more than needed, or people bring it to your attention, re-evaluate ways you can have more regular contact, or set yourself a reminder to touch base with a friend, it may just be what they need too.
|Stay connected |
Whether that’s work colleagues, friends or family – stay connected with your family and friends even if you can’t see them. Make a special effort to keep in touch with people you know are on their own and who may be struggling. Look for ways to expand your network virtually, find an online book group, exercise class or club for those with a shared hobby. Virtual volunteering is available too so you can not only boost your mental health but help others.
|Give into peer pressure|
Sometimes when we feel a bit lost or overwhelmed we can allow ourselves to be directed by others. Sometimes that’s a good thing – our friends and family help us through. But not if it is hard to resist friends who want you to break rules on social distancing or meeting in person, for example. It can also lead to feeling trapped in toxic relationships or obliged to help people that aren’t good for you.
|Find time for what you need|
It can be easy to serve other people at work or at home, or to fill our diaries with commitments and activities that crowd out our own needs. Whether it’s booking leave from work, shutting the bathroom door for a shower or bath away from the kids, or getting out for a run alone – find something that works for you and make it happen.
|Going to excess|
Research has told us that some people are using alcohol, overeating, overspending and illegal drugs to cope with stress. Try and keep an eye on your drinking, what you are eating and what you are spending. If things are getting out of control, find a helpline or speak to someone you trust.
If you think of winter as one of the regular seasons, perhaps it could be a time for reflection and doing more things like reading, relaxing, getting warm and cosy and recharging our batteries. But also brave the weather, the Norwegians say, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” Embrace the Hygge – it is a real thing, I promise – you can read more here!
|Losing your balance|
We’re juggling life, work and family at the moment. There’s a real risk that if we lose the balance of the different strands we can end up in trouble. Try and find a balance between work, home and personal needs and stick to it. You may also want to think about screen time – making sure that you ration video calls if working from home, and tear yourself away from your phone.
|Make the mundane special. |
This has been one of the most effective tricks for me – creating a routine with some excitement in it! Maybe you and your partner or housemates decide to have a fancy dinner once a week where you all dress up as if you were at an expensive restaurant. Maybe you organise a special date night once a week or a movie night. It doesn’t have to be that big either – we started the holiday countdown calendar early and we have Shirley Temple Tuesdays that started after a particularly tough Tuesday. If you, or someone in your household, is having a low day, go out to get everyone fancy coffees or a milkshake….sometimes those little things go a long way. And take the time to celebrate small wins – even if that’s just in your head. A win could be clearing a work task or getting through a tricky moment like a supermarket trip. It could just be getting up and dressed. A hot chocolate after a walk outside, a magazine or even a moment of peace on the sofa are all small rewards.
What is the Culture of Sustainability?
The Culture of Sustainability is an evolvGREEN program that seeks to leverage the unique opportunity evolv1 provides and explore new ways of addressing this performance gap that can often be associated with green buildings, and ensure the design performance is realized.
Beyond just the building efficiency, the program was designed to also foster a strong culture of sustainability among the citizens of evolv1, so we build a community that has sustainability embedded in its identity.