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Tip 2 For Good Mental Health During Self-isolation & Social Distancing

By March 25, 2020Blog

The first article in this series detailed my first tip for maintaining good mental health during social distancing and self-isolation: ‘Think and communicate helpful thoughts that serve you and mankind’.

Always remember, anything we do repeatedly becomes a habit that we wire into our brain (build neural pathways in the brain for) so just keep displacing negative thoughts and words and replace them with positive thoughts and words all day, throughout the day, as consistently as you can. Do this, and eventually it will come naturally as that is the habit you will have ‘programmed’ your brain for. More on that and all my tips, in the books and available when having coaching sessions with me (Skype video coaching sessions currently 20% off).

Now, for tip two.

Tip 2: Soothe stress and anxiety symptoms

Coronavirus brings so much stress, fear and anxiety about dealing with the here and now and about what the future may bring, and it can feel anywhere from uncomfortable (physically and psychologically) to downright debilitating. In my book, Anxiety Free, I share how you can completely resolve anxiety every time it shows up as the survival mechanism that it is; however, I also share science-backed strategies for soothing anxiety symptoms immediately.

Allow me to share a few handpicked ones with you right now. Some of these will give instant relief, others may require ten, fifteen, thirty minutes (or however long is necessary) to relax you physically and psychologically.

Dancing

Dancing has been found to have numerous benefits, from improved mental health, well-being and life satisfaction, to reducing the risk of dementia in the elderly. [1] Just a few of the many discovered benefits of dancing recreationally (i.e. dancing however you want just for fun) are:

  • enhanced self-esteem and coping strategies by helping you to feel happy, even euphoric;
  • feeling released;
  • feeling energetic;
  • feeling self-confident;
  • feeling more focused;
  • being more mindful;
  • being able to express emotions;
  • being able to release negative thoughts, feelings and problems;
  • feeling positive;
  • relaxing the mind;
  • feeling in harmony with yourself.

For soothing stress and anxiety symptoms, dance as and when required until you feel relaxed, mentally and physically. For long-term good mental health, dance twice a week for 75 minutes for long-term benefits. [2]

Nature

Embracing nature by looking at, walking through or sitting among green spaces, flowers and trees has been shown to be very calming and anxiety-soothing, and you’ll have likely experienced this yourself. Being around nature lowers the heart rate and reduces blood pressure; it can also reduce physical pain and negative emotions, and increase positive emotions. [3] Looking at nature can also stop you from acting impulsively [4] – something that may well come in handy if you’re in conflict with someone, for example, and considering sending a potentially regrettable text message, if you know what I mean. And it’s not just being immersed in nature that helps; even just hearing the sounds of nature can calm us, [5] whether you’re simply listening to a recording of natural sounds, or hearing them through an open window in your home, or walking outside in your garden or in a local park (if your government allows it right now) without earphones blocking the natural sounds out.

Art

Creating art on your own [6] and creating art as part of a group [7], have both been found to significantly soothe anxiety symptoms. Art’s anxiety soothing effect has also been found amongst victims of bullying. [8] So you can do some art on your own or have an art session with your family members you’re self-isolating with or log into a Skype video group chat and have a group art session with multiple friends at once! If you have family or friends who you know would enjoy this, it may be worth organising a weekly art class that is purely about fun. Equally though, whenever you notice your anxiety symptoms appear (physical or psychological), doing some art can help get you back to a calm state.

Exercise

We all know now that exercise has massive mental and physical health benefits. Both aerobic exercise and strength training can help. [9] To highlight the power of exercise, multiple studies have found that moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for thirty to forty-five minutes, three to five times a week, has been shown to be effective for treating major depressive disorder, [10] and is potentially as effective as antidepressants. [11] You may also notice than when you go for brisk walk, you notice a sudden dissipation of your anxiety symptoms. So either get out into a local park if you are allowed to and able to (all the while practising social distancing protocol and covering your mouth and nose) and go for a brisk walk, jog or run, but even if you can’t, get some movement at home. Either do some laps up and down your stairs, do some dancing, or stick on an aerobic exercise video online. Equally, do some strength training exercises, whether using your own body weight such as press ups or by using something in the house such as empty plastic bottles filled with water (you can put multiple in a carrier bag for increased the weight). At the very least, just get up and move around your house and garden as and when required; you’d be surprised at how significantly that can immediately improve your mood, snap you out of a mental rut when trying to find a solution to a problem or just feel reenergised. Again, exercising is something you can do alone, with family members you’re self-isolating with, or with friends over video chat, and something worth working into your weekly routine (3-5 times a week) or using as and when required.

So remember, as and when you find yourself getting anxious, stressed or feeling depressed, use some of the above practises you can use at home and also regularly schedule the ones that you really enjoy, into your diary.

Stay healthy!

Lots of love, Sam xx

For many more science-backed anxiety soothing tips, check out my book, Anxiety Free, available in all formats, audiobook, Kindle, ebook and paperback.

For coaching for anxiety, confidence, a relationship, or dating, get in touch for Skype video coaching currently on offer with 20% off.

 

References:

1, 2, 6, 7, 8: Anxiety Free: How to trust yourself and feel calm

3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11: Happy Relationships: 7 simple rules to create harmony and growth