Blog by Ayma Masood

Biomedical Science student at University of Manchester

2020 is definitely a year we won’t forget. Things we never even imagined could happen have become reality. For example, I never thought I would sit at home, with my cup of tea and still attend university abroad.

This virus has brought forth so many challenges by interrupting our mundane routines and has even cancelled our travel plans for the summer.

On a different note, it has also affected our mental health. This might seem like a trivial subject and some might even choose to neglect it, but along with taking care of our physical health, it is essential that we invest in our mental health, too. Especially in these unprecedented times.

The frustration caused by the uncertainty of this situation has, no doubt, hit some of us worse than others. However, even in the midst of chaos, we find ways to smile, to laugh, to be grateful and remind others around us to be grateful; for what we have and even for what we don’t. We continue to progress and grow, even in this discord that I like to call ‘the hurricane’, where we are sometimes in the eye and sometimes in the rain.

No doubt, it’s hard to stay positive if you have lost a loved one or your job or an opportunity you were looking forward to; your feelings are valid. However, we need to remember, there are somethings that we can control and somethings we simply cannot. So, here’s a piece of advice: Focus on the things you can control.

Here are 8 ways you can get your life on track, all while taking care of your mental health.

This might seem like the perfect time to slack off and chill, but let’s not make every day a ‘slack off day’ for the rest of the months 🙂 Plan your day, so you don’t end up feeling aimless. Whether you like to use a to-do lists or a weekly planner, try to set some goals for each day that keep you motivated.

What’s more important than achieving these goals is simply taking the initiate. Productivity of each day will vary, so don’t let that stress you out, because at the end of the day it’s your effort that counts. Instead of just putting down study, study, study, write down things like workout, read, art, mediate, skin care, etc.

It’s time to break that ‘sleep late= wake up late’ loop. Becoming a morning person is probably one the healthiest decisions you will make, and it will simply save you a whole load of stress throughout the day. Here are some tips on how to fix your sleeping schedule and get better sleep:

  1. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier each day until you reach a healthy bedtime.
  2. Avoid use of tech (which includes your phone) at least an hour before your bedtime.
  3. Avoid drinking too much water before going to bed.
  4. Avoid long naps during the day.
  5. Keep your curtains slightly open to let light into your room in the morning. This helps regulate your circadian rhythm.
  6. Stick to your sleep schedule. (This is a challenging one).
  7. Try apps like Calm & Headspace for a little support.

If you are already a morning person, then give yourself a pat on the back. Do it!

Choose a time, be consistent and don’t over work yourself. Remember, it’s all about taking an initiate.

So, whether you start with 15 minutes a day or an hour a day, consistency is key! Nevertheless, don’t beat yourself up for skipping a day, because it’s alright to take a break sometimes. Be kind to yourself!

Learn to do something that will pay off in the future, even if it’s simple real-life skills like cooking, cleaning, making your bed, calling the customer service or even changing the bulb. Basically, anything that makes you feel more empowered and independent. There is always room for improvement, so take this time to groom yourself and remember it’s “progress over perfection”. Moreover, if you want to learn a specific skill related to your field, there some insightful courses offered by Coursera or edX from top universities free of cost. Check them out!

Give time to your relationships. Since parents and children are home, it is a great time to link up with your family. You can call your grandparents to check up on them or set up a zoom meeting with your friends occasionally.

Furthermore, you can reach out and make a difference through virtual volunteering opportunities. Take this time to practice empathy and develop your communication skills. Talk to people, but most importantly connect with yourself, with your thoughts and have positive conversations with yourself if that brings you peace. Connect with your surroundings and practise mindfulness.

It’s a great way to stay up to date on the latest news/ trends and stay connected. You can use this platform to educate yourself and spread awareness. However, it is important to note, there’s currently a lot of negative news out there; therefore, if you find yourself aimlessly scrolling for hours through your feed and reading tones of upsetting news, it’s about time you take a break.

We are not all born as artists, but the great thing is with practice we get better. Art is therapeutic and has many forms like painting, calligraphy, sketching, photography, poetry and even cooking. It not only connects you with your own creativity, but releasing your emotions as art alleviates anxiety, depression and stress. Therefore, find the type of art you find the most relaxing and get on with your masterpiece!

One thing this whole situation has made us realise is how much we take for granted. Therefore, take a few moments to reflect on your experiences and focus on what you gained from them. Do things that inspire you and those around you. Smile! Read! Write! Breathe!

Observe the movement of your lungs and the air you inhale and exhale. Notice the little things in life and appreciate them. Make it your goal to be a different person after this period of isolation. A kinder and a thoughtful person.

Feel free to get in touch with CAMHS.Digital or me (ayma.masood@gmail.com) for any questions you have or just a talk 🙂

Being a part of CAMHS.Digital has been a truly wonderful experience and we have gotten so much insight into topics like mental health and wellbeing and how different technologies can be used to improve these. They have very dedicated and caring members that continue to stay in touch with us even during these difficult times. I am grateful to be a part of this group that allows me to make a difference in society, whilst learning ways to improve our own mental wellbeing.

This is the first blog I have ever written, so kindly let me know what you think in the comments. Peace!

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