The OI Fam's Tips For Mental Health
The past few months of lockdown has been a challenging and difficult time for everyone. If one thing it has highlighted, it’s the importance of looking after our Mental Health.
We see OutsideIn as a family, hence why you probably hear us time and time again calling it the ‘Oi Fam.’ A big part of that from day one has been looking after each other, whether that be celebrating the good or an arm of support during the tough times.
We see you as a key part of the Oi Fam, so we wanted to share with you all some helpful tips from the team of their own mental health experiences and things they do to stay positive.
Check it out, we hope you find this helpful.
As I sit here now, I am struggling to put into words how this change has affected me. I want to say there’s no issue, and when people ask how I am, I say “All grand! Just working away as normal!”. But it’s not normal, it’s foreign and strange. Isolation has been the recurring word, but thinking what that means, and what it is to distance yourself, I think we all need the time to check in with ourselves and ask, how are we really doing? Separate from family, friends and routine, finding a new normal has revealed space for doubt and loneliness. I won’t pretend to know what to do here, as we are all figuring it out for ourselves, but I encourage you to find your comforts, and invest in them. Whether it be music, film, your imagination, or those you’re lucky enough to have around, invest in it. Look after yourself, and those beside you, we are all affected and you never know who needs that extra comfort today.
My tip - Check in with yourself, and how you are doing, share that with someone and open the space for them to share with you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and if you don’t have the words, here’s a little hand.
I’ve also included a little songbook that I escape to -
What’s happening right now is not easy both mentally and physically. It’s hard to find the motivation to get up and get moving. Across the world, we are all experiencing similar troubles. As someone who has a background in health and fitness, if I can offer anything to anyone right now, I wanna do it! So my tip is - start exercising! I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out.
Exercising can have so many benefits, not just physically. It can release happy chemicals, reduce anxiety, improve sleep and improve self-confidence. Not to mention we are now allowed to exercise as many times a day as we like. It doesn’t take much to start experiencing these benefits. You can start by going for a 30 minute walk a day and building it up slowly. You can follow an online yoga or fitness class or you can take up running or cycling. It all counts. This is an amazing habit to start and continue once lockdown has finished.
I wanna share with you something else that’s really helped me lately. Having a routine. Sticking to a routine has helped me stay positive and motivated. I wake up at the same time, have breakfast, start work, cook dinner, go for a walk and do a workout. Same thing everyday. Sounds boring, but it helps, trust me.
My last point I wanna share is stay connected with your family and friends. Last year I moved to Belfast from my hometown Swindon. It wasn’t the easiest of moves considering I have never moved far away from my family, even during University I commuted everyday. I’m a big family person and because of COVID-19, I haven’t seen them in person for over 5 months. But thanks to modern technology, there are so many ways to stay connected. I use WhatsApp to have a group family call every weekend.
I am a big thinker. My mind is constantly running and sometimes it’s overwhelmed with what’s happening in life, in the world or in work. Sometimes my inner critic is telling me how wrong I am or how slow I am. What do I do to cope, move past, and stay positive? I usually have to find a quiet place and pray. I hash out my feelings and thoughts to God and then discuss them with my husband. I always try to take away a valuable lesson that I can take away from the situation or find something positive in it. Then I usually end up watching something that I don’t have to think about like a rerun or a cheesy Hallmark movie where I know what’s going to happen because they are all the same. I also do puzzles and focus solely on the puzzle and solving it which helps me to distract. I usually have to take my mind off something and then go back to it later with a clear head and calmed emotions. I know that everything is about perspective and perspective is a choice.
Find community, communicate how you feel, don’t sit in it.
Be aware of how you react in certain situations and that will also help you start putting healthier practices into place when you see yourself spinning out of control.
COVID-19 – Mental Health and Me:
What I’m doing to stay positive now is make a list of all the good things that have come from this Lockdown…like, I’ve saved a lot of money towards a house, I’ve had time to bond with my in-laws, etc.
I also make sure I get outside and feel a part of nature. I love to just sit and watch flowers blow in the breeze or just watch the rain. Plus taking a walk and getting to see people walking their dogs and jogging still makes me feel a part of a community.
Also sometimes I just need a good cry and a jam session where I sing at the top of my lungs!
Here is a list of songs I love to lose myself in - Be aware my music taste is all over the place!
- One by Sleeping at Last
- Seasons Change by United Pursuit
- So Will I (100 Billion X) by Hillsong UNITED
- Transformation / Arrival of the Birds by The Cinematic Orchestra
- All I Want by Kodaline
- Vor í Vaglaskógi by Kaleo
- You Make My Dreams by Daryl Hall & John Oates
- Good Mornin’ Life by Dean Martin
I’m definitely a huge over-thinker. I love to dream and get creative but on the flip side of that I can easily overthink situations, allowing my negative thoughts to start spiralling out of control. Lockdown has been such a strange time, nothing quite beats physical interaction so adapting to a virtual life with my family, friends and girlfriend for the past few months has been challenging. There’s different ways I manage this which I’ve found especially helpful during the past few months of lockdown.
- Get creative - come up with new ways to connect. A great website I use is tabletopia.com which allows you to play most major board games online with your family or friends. Another idea is to go for a walk whilst on facetime to still feel like you are with those you would usually see in person. Usually have a meal together? Order food for you and a friend with uber eats or deliveroo and have a meal together over facetime.
- Have friends who’ve got your back - sometimes they can help you realise that the thoughts you're having aren’t reality or be that arm of support when you need it most.
- Prayer - This one helps me the most, whether it be the start of the day or in the midst of chaos, taking time out to bring it to God has constantly helped me to look at the bigger picture and to realise there is always hope.
As someone who thrives off human interaction, I've personally been struggling with that feeling of lonesomeness. I know I'm not alone but being on my own has got me feeling "lonely." Combating that can be difficult practically living by yourself but what I've found helps is making that effort to reach out to your loved ones. Video calls, quick phone calls, that little show of love really helps remind me that this is just temporary and that one day we'll be back in the arms of those we love.
I've also found myself feeling disappointed with how little I feel I manage to accomplish each day compared to before the crisis. It's important that we remind ourselves that you and your team's success will not be measured the same way it was when things were normal. We all react differently to scenarios and lockdown is no different. Know when to stop, if you can't focus, go for a walk and clear your head.
There’s no doubt that this crazy pandemic, that feels like it’s taking over the world, has been a struggle in many different ways for everyone! I mean, don’t get me wrong, who doesn’t love a few days at home doing nothing but relaxing and over indulging with snacks! However when those days turn into months, doing nothing gets boring, relaxing feels lazy and the snacks definitely start showing on the hips.
It’s nice for a while but it eventually gets too much! With so much time alone our brains start working and over thinking - uncontrollably at times! I think this is natural! It happens to us all!
Overthinking situations can at times put us down in the dumps! But one thing I’ve learnt to do is to think positively, steer my thinking to all the things (and all of the people) I am grateful and thankful for. If any lesson has been learnt from Covid-19, it’s how important it is to have appreciation for everything we have, big or small. Doing this helps me to get perspective and makes me realise that this is just another step in life that will teach me a new lesson, that in the future will help me to handle similar situations or help someone else with going through the same problem! Looking at it this way helps turn something horrible into something quite (cringe I know) beautiful :)
My advice for looking after yourself, not only during Covid-19 but in general, is to be kind to yourself! Take a day off to do absolutely nothing, relax and do not feel bad about it! Have a self-care day, take a bath, do a face mask, do your makeup, do your hair, put some nice clothes on! Don’t feel that it’s pointless because you’re not going anywhere! If it makes you feel good about yourself, then it’s not pointless, it’s exactly what you needed! When I feel good about myself, I feel good about the day :) it’s something tiny but the difference it can make is huge!
I also try to go for a walk every day. Doing this helps you to get out and appreciate the world that is around you, all the while staying fit and benefiting from the fresh air. While walking, stop, look around and take pictures of the pretty skies and sunsets or cows and horses that you meet! A change of space and view always makes a difference!
My faith plays a huge part for me and I am thankful that through everything, I can trust and rely on a perfect God that has a perfect plan for me and my life :)
Be kind to yourself, always :))
Today I am really craving sitting in a quirky café, laughing with my friends, discussing our good and awful life choices and sipping a black coffee.
Letting go of those plans and dreams we made for these months Covid-19 has stolen from us has been really upsetting. However attempting to let go of pressure, to not stand still and waste time is punishing.
My lockdown tip is a reminder that you haven't failed if you have not used this time to lose weight, learn a new language and talent or clean out your messy miscellaneous cupboard!
Covid-19 has moved boundaries and changed comfort zones for me. It has been really stressful!
Walking, running and just moving in nature calls a powerful grounding back to an overwhelmed and anxious mind.
Creativity is in all of us, use it as therapy! Doodle, decorate, cook, bake, write and craft. Give your brain a chance to escape and breathe!
Nothing lasts forever, and we will be back in cafés on coffee dates, laughing with our friends again soon!
My favourite yoga flow: click here!
A downloadable template to colour and Doodle on: click here!
Until recently, I didn’t realise that self-care wasn’t selfish but is something so important. It takes a lot for me to notice when I’ve neglected my emotional and psychological health. I’m usually the last to realise that I need to take some time for myself and prioritise my needs. During lockdown, I’ve had more time to tune into how emotionally and mentally healthy I am. Rather than reaching the point where my body tells me I’m overwhelmed, I’ve been able to create patterns that allow me to maintain my mental health. Setting rhythms that make sense for me has been the key to keeping on top of my mental health.
With less going on, I’ve had a lot more time and space to think. I have slowed down and realised that life isn’t just about being busy, making more money, or self-improvement. I've come to realise life is about enjoying each moment as it comes, so I’ve taken some time to do that. I have also been able to spend more time learning about Jesus which has been so good and so helpful. Although lockdown has been difficult in so many ways, there has been so much good from this time and space - it’s just a matter of choosing to use it in the best way.
Create new rhythms - Living in this ‘new normal’ means it’s time to make new routines and habits for yourself. I’ve been doing so many things that bring me joy! So many of these have been things I wouldn’t normally have time for. Find things that make you happy and give yourself permission to do them.
Know who you are - My mental health is very easily influenced by my environment. How I’m feeling emotionally and psychologically is something I need to reset every day. I need to remind myself who I am; for me, this is found in God. Maybe for you this looks a little different - you might find your identity in relationships, your profession, or becoming the person you want to be.
Get some perspective - When I get flustered about something, I find it helpful to gather my negative thoughts and pray. This way, I shift my focus from me to God. He is way better at dealing with my issues! Then I can be present with myself rather than racing ahead with thoughts outside of my control - it’s all about perspective.
I’ve never really thought about my mental health before. For a lot of guys it’s something that we don’t really like discussing. It’s easy to see how anxiety and stress can so easily creep into life, especially with everything that’s going on in the world right now. These past 10 weeks have been a difficult and stressful time for me, but below are a list of things that I have found to be helpful:
- Find Support – if you or someone is struggling, find support. This might be through a friend or a family member.
- Connect with Others – friends, family, pets can boost positive feelings. Focus on the quality of your friendships, not the quantity.
- Get Outside – make sure to set aside time to exercise. Whether that’s going for a walk or run, make sure to get some fresh air.
Trying to stay positive in the middle of a global pandemic isn’t really something I thought I would have to face in 2020, but it’s happened and we are getting through it.
I would struggle with a bit of anxiety from time to time, especially around health and illness, so being put in lockdown while a crazy virus spreads outside my door was not ideal. I think what I’ve learnt from all of it is, really, is that the only way to push past all those nagging thoughts is to remain positive about the whole situation and focus on the facts. I pray and read my Bible and spend time with God because my faith is what really holds me together when I’m worried, and I think it’s important to have that thing that you always turn to. For me it’s my faith but for others it might be a friend or a parent, and I think this is so key for talking out issues or things that are worrying you.
I try and keep myself occupied when I feel anxious too, like read a book or do some baking (which usually turns out terribly) or do a workout of some sort. This has helped me feel so much more motivated and productive during days where all I feel like doing is sitting in sweats and binge-watching The Office, and it just kind of makes me a wee bit happier.
Never in my life would I have imagined the “city that never sleeps” coming to a complete halt. All the noise, all the lights, and all the people have slowly faded away and been replaced by constant news of the global pandemic. New York City is one of many places that relates to this reality, and more than ever we should take time to think about our mental health. It doesn’t matter where you are, we want to encourage you to take some time today to practice mental wellness.
Here are some things that might help….
Do something you enjoy - This looks different for all of us! Whether it's reading, running, cooking, drawing, or writing, invest time into something that brings you joy. One of my favourite things to do is go for a walk. It’s a part of my day I look forward to and I make it a priority to fit it into my daily routine.
Connect with others - One of the best reminders is you’re not in this alone! Friends, family, and loved ones have a massive impact in combating isolation. Due to the current situation where we can’t physically be together, meeting virtually has given us the opportunity to connect. I try my best to speak to at least one person a day, giving me a chance to check in and communicate how I am processing everything as well.
Ask for help - Vulnerability is key 🔑 The statement “It’s okay not to be okay” has never been more real. Sometimes we have off days, we feel a little extra lonely, and get overwhelmed by what we’re hearing and seeing. These are the very moments when we should take a deep breath and ask for help. I suggest speaking to a professional, seeking someone who might have gone through a similar experience, or even talking to a friend. All of this can go a long way.
Thank you for reading :).
Love you all,