To say that the last year and three months (not that we’re counting or anything) has been rough would be the understatement of the century. We’ve all been cooped up, either working from home, trying at homeschooling, or working on the frontline as a key worker; and been pushed to our limits.
With the threat of COVID-19, record unemployment levels, and the struggle of not being able to meet up with our nearest and dearest nearly as much as we’d like to (maybe with a few exceptions) it’s no wonder that many people have noticed the toll the pandemic has taken on their mental health.
Now that more and more things are opening up again, and the vaccine rollout going as planned, we’re well on our way to finally getting back to normal. However, while a lunch out (and a pint) can cure a lot of ills, the after-effects of the pandemic, unfortunately, look like they may be sticking around.
Luckily, Mental Health Awareness week has rolled around again, and we have a whole week dedicated to talking about our health, and how we’re doing. One of the best ways to try and help your mental wellbeing is by getting a great nights sleep, which is something we know a thing or two about. Issues with mental health and sleep can often have you running in circles, so in this week’s blog, we’ll be discussing methods for helping with health as well as your sleep. From sleep meditation to mental health support lines we have plenty of advice.
How The Pandemic Has Affected Our Sleep Patterns
With all of the uncertainties the pandemic has brought, it’s no wonder that many people have reported a decline in their mental wellbeing. In terms of public info, many of us have reported higher levels of stress, which of course can have a negative effect on mental health. One of the most obvious symptoms of issues is losing sleep, which 58% of people have reported experiencing since the start of the pandemic.
While this in and of itself isn’t great (especially if you take sleep health as seriously as we do) a lack of sleep can make issues with your mental health even worse, which leads to a bit of a cycle. It’s so important to take care of yourself at any time, but during a pandemic checking in with yourself has become even more important. So how should you work it into your daily routine?
Try Meditation Before Bed
You might think of incense and dodgy looking harem pants, but meditation is actually a fantastic way to make improvements to your mental health. With a focus on calm and training your mind to focus on your body and the present moment, it’s a great way to detach yourself from all of the stresses of daily life, especially daily life in a pandemic, and get a nice moment of calm.
Meditation helps you to not only have a wee bit of time to yourself but apps and programmes like Headspace teach you tools that you can use to ease stress, panic, depression, and other symptoms of mental illness in your day to day life. As you’ve probably guessed already, the focus on calm the practice brings, it’s perfect for getting you in the right mindset to go to sleep.
Guided sleep meditation is a hugely popular method insomniacs have adopted to help drift off, with white noise to sleep stories being some of the favoured ways to add a relaxed vibe to your nighttime routine.
Exercising In The Great Outdoors
While the weather outside isn’t exactly tropical, the theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is nature. You might not feel too inspired to brave the rain we’ve been having recently, but getting out and about actually does wonders for your mental health. We all know how being stuck at home all day every day can have a negative impact on us, we’ve been living it for the past year! There are tons of studies that all agree on the good impact nature has on our mental health.
Whether it’s a 5K run or a leisurely stroll, any time spent exercising is fantastic for your health, mental and physical. When we exercise our body releases endorphins, a chemical in the brain that makes us feel happy and energised. Many doctors recommend exercise as a way to help boost your mood, and it can even improve your sleep. Exercise is a known way of improving your sleep schedule and helps you ease into a routine, and all around makes you feel healthier and happier, what’s not to love?
Keep On Top Of Your Schedule By Journaling
Yup, it turns out that diary you kept as a kid was good for more than just hiding gossip from nosy family members. Journaling might sound a bit naff, but it can help so much with organising your thoughts and feelings and is often recommended by psychologists as a way to keep on top of your mental health.
There are heaps of ways to go about it, whether you opt for a more aesthetic look or a slightly more organised approach, journaling can help make sense of what you’re feeling, keep track of what’s going on in your life, and you can even track your diet and exercise.
Sleep and mental health are so intertwined, and keeping a sleep diary is a great way to start regulating your sleep, so you can get the most out of your kip. It also makes for a great habit to start your day!
Talk To A Professional
While there’s plenty of ways you can help to improve your mental health and the effect it has on your sleep, there are also plenty of incredible resources available to those who need more immediate help. Self-care goes a long way, but it isn’t the ultimate solution to your mental health, especially if you feel like you’re in need of serious help.
Oftentimes, measures like mediation, exercise, and journaling are only effective after seeking help and if you feel as though you are struggling to cope, getting advice from professionals can make a massive difference. So, if you’ve found that the pandemic, or anything, has had a negative impact on your mental health, please do not hesitate to reach out to any of these fantastic organisations, or contact your local GP for advice.