Better Habits for a Healthier Mind
The COVID-19 outbreak has been a tough period for everyone. We’ve all needed to make extreme adjustments for these extraordinary circumstances. And for the most part, we’ve managed extremely well – likely much better than we’d have imagined had someone told us that we would be spending the Spring and early Summer largely confined to our homes back in February.
However, there have probably also been days when we have just been focused on making it through to tomorrow, one day closer to normality.
And now that the country is beginning to reopen, regaining our old momentum isn’t going to be as easy as flicking a switch. Here are some mental strategies that should help us start building personal momentum as we hopefully approach the end of our time in quarantine:
Live in the present
The human mind tends to wander. Psychologists think that this wandering mind actually evolved as a survival instinct, whereby we evolved a mind that is constantly reminding us of things we overcame in the past and alerting us to potential future dangers.
This kind of mind is perfect for life in the Stone Age, when staying alert for dangerous animals like sabre-toothed tigers was essential for survival. However, this tendency to ruminate can prove a hindrance in the modern world, especially in this period of vague uncertainty. It means that our anxiety can increase to a difficult level.
We can train our minds out of this habit for ruminating by focusing on what is going on around us. The more we focus on the here and now, the less anxious we are going to feel.
A good strategy to help us focus on the ‘now’ is to get a large sheet of paper and divide it into two halves. Label one half “The Present” and the other “What if?” Then, write the things that are occupying your mind in the appropriate box. Separating what is actually happening from our ruminations about what could happen helps us understand the things that we have control over – more likely things in “The Present” category – and things that we don’t – likely things in the “What if?” category.
Learn to dwell on the positives rather than the negatives
Negative thoughts and experience have a tendency to stay in our minds for long periods of time, whereas we often lose focus on the good things in our lives. In other words, it is easy to fall into the trap of pessimistic thinking.
Clinical psychologists think that the more present we are, the more likely we are to notice and appreciate the positive things in life. For instance, right now many of us are feeling closer to our friends and extended families due to weekly webcam catch ups. Others have been able to work from home, something that allows us to earn money from a comfortable environment. When we feel low, there are often some positives. We just have to look for them.
This isn’t to say that we should box away our emotional pain and hardships. Instead, we can look at our emotional difficulties from a more present place, where we are better positioned to look at our core feelings by letting them in and examining them rather than constantly ruminating about a past we cannot change or future scenarios that we think could emerge.
Finding a point of balance between processing emotional hardship and remaining positive is key.
Transitioning back to a new normal isn’t going to be easy, nor is managing the repercussions of the COVID-19 lockdown. We are here to help you understand the effects of the global pandemic on your financial future and the impact of any changes to your personal situation during the lockdown. Get in touch to see how we can help you move towards living your best possible life after lockdown.