After what has been a wild ride of a year, with lockdowns and social distancing, the adjustment to normalcy can be quite challenging for many of us. We have become so accustomed to staying at home, not changing out of our pyjamas, and watching Netflix, that suddenly being out and about in the world again can be overwhelming.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. We’re feeling it too.
So we’ve been asking ourselves what we can do to feel mentally better, and here’s what we came up with:
Reduce Screen Time
We were on our screens a lot before the pandemic, and that increased even more so while we were stuck at home. A staggering 76% of people have spent more time on their phones during the pandemic, and 45% have spent more time on their computers. This is problematic considering so many of us are on our phones to look at social media, which has consistently been linked to anxiety and depression.. So what can you do? Limit your screen time. Make a rule for yourself to only check your social media once a day (those TikToks can wait). Alternatively, iPhone users can use the screen time feature to manage their screen time and limit time on certain apps. There are also apps like AppDetox that will allow you to do exactly what they preach – detox from your device.
We’re sure we speak for many when we say that during the pandemic we ordered in A LOT. Ordering in is a great way to treat yourself once in a while, but when you do it regularly it’s not the healthiest habit. As the saying goes, you are what you eat, and if you regularly eat takeout, you’ll see the effects in your mood, because your body and mind are more connected than you think! You may not know this, but you actually have a “second brain” from a connection between your brain and your gastrointestinal tract. Your GI tract houses billions of bacteria that influence the production of neurotransmitters, chemical messengers that send messages from your gut to your brain. Eating healthy foods will promote “good” bacteria, which will keep your neurotransmitter production in good shape and send your brain positive messages. Eating unhealthy food regularly is like putting a bunch of hurdles on the path, causing your brain to receive less positive messages. You can start feeling better – physically AND menatlly – by cooking more at home and using more nutritious food. If you’re in need of inspiration you can follow beetsbybrooke who fills her Instagram feed with delicious plant-based recipes.
After being stuck at home for most of the last year, it’s more important than ever to stretch your legs and be active! We know exercise sounds daunting, your mind probably pictures push-ups and weights and immediately goes “no thanks”. But you don’t have to do intense exercise to experience the physical and mental benefits of being active. Just doing a 10 minute brisk walk increases our mental alertness, energy and positive mood. Instead of snoozing your alarm, go out for a walk, you’ll find you’ll be more energized than staying in bed for those extra 10 minutes. To make it even easier to exercise, you can also do workouts in the comfort of your own home. Check out shapedfit for some at-home exercise inspiration (Spoiler alert: there’s a couch workout. Literally.).
Get Some Sun (But Not Too Much!)
“Here comes the sun do, do, do. Here comes the sun, And I say it’s all right.” The Beatles hit from 1969 has never been truer. It feels like years since it’s been here, and now that it is, it’s time to take the sun in. Sunlight is super beneficial for both our physical and mental health. In addition the the Vitamin D your skin absorbs, exposure to sunlight triggers the release of hormones in your brain, like serotonin. Serotonin boosts your mood and helps you feel calm and focused. Less sun means less serotonin, which can lead to depression. It’s important that you go out and spend some time in the sun, whether it’s at the beach, park, pool or anywhere you can get it (just don’t forget your sunscreen!).
There’s no denying it: this year has been rough. We may all be in different boats, but we all faced the same storm. So many of us have been having a hard time with our mental health, and there’s no shame in admitting that. No one knows ourselves better than we do, we are our own experts. If you’re not feeling okay, that’s okay, but it’s also important to recognize when you could use support. For many people it’s really relieving to talk to someone who understands what you’re going through, and a great way to do that is to join a Circle. Support has never been more accessible and affordable, and this is your chance to be surrounded by it.
So, what are you waiting for? Give these tips a try!