Just as it looked like we were emerging from a global pandemic, Russia has waged war on Ukraine. It’s yet another troubling event in what can feel like a world of upset and uncertainty.
On top of the atrocities and sheer devastation caused by the Russian invasion, the world is also dealing with ongoing economic doubt, rising energy prices, polarisation and much, much more.
Sometimes it can all feel too much.
Here are a few tips on how to protect your mental health in today’s world.
(They sadly won’t change or save the world, but they may help you in your day-to-day life).
Look after yourself
Self-care may be a bit of an overused buzzword at the moment, but there’s a good reason why. Looking after yourself by eating well and exercising can really do wonders to protect your mental health.
Keeping active has been proven to lift your mood, aid sleep and help you concentrate and sleep better. And a nutritious diet promotes organ health and makes you feel better. Limit caffeine and sugar and ditch the alcohol. It may be tempting to unwind with a few tipples, but hangxiety and ‘beer fear’ are the last things you want to deal with if you’re already feeling low.
Talk and connect
A problem shared really is a problem halved. If there’s something on your mind, talking it through with a close friend, family member or therapist can make you feel so much better. Even the thought of being listened to can make you feel less alone.
It’s also a good idea to keep in touch with those you love. Even if you’re far away physically, a quick FaceTime or voice note will make you feel nourished, relaxed and supported. You’ll also likely make their day too.
Seek the joy in life
Finding and doing something that you love is a great feeling. It lifts your mood, raises your self-esteem and distracts you from your everyday worries.
Even if you’re short on time, a quick five minutes of losing yourself in something you’re passionate about will do a world of good—whether that’s reading a book, doing the crossword or dancing to your favourite song. The act of taking a break itself can really help you destress and refocus your concentration.
Thank and forgive
Keeping a daily gratitude journal is a great way to boost your self-esteem and bring your focus back to the present. It doesn’t have to be a big commitment. Simply spend 2 or 3 minutes writing down a couple of things you’re grateful for. Studies show a strong link between expressed gratitude and inner happiness.
Another way to improve satisfaction with your life and protect your mental health is to practice forgiveness. Holding a grudge is not good for your mental health so try to forgive those who have upset you—whether that’s a friend who’s let you down or the stranger who jumped in front of you in the sandwich queue this morning.
Set yourself goals
Setting yourself small targets and accomplishing them is a great way to feel better about yourself and life. In a world that can often feel unpredictable and out of our control, it gives us perspective and the feeling that we do have a grasp on certain things.
It can be something as small as making yourself go for a walk every day or reorganising those cluttered cupboards in the house. As long as they’re realistic, setting goals is a surefire way to boost your self-esteem and self-worth.
And remember—if you are really struggling, ask for help. Admitting you’re struggling is a sign of strength and talking your feelings through with someone can ease stress, sadness and negative feelings.
Don’t be afraid to seek help from a medical professional if you’re concerned about your mental health.
You’ve got this.