Do routines make you anxious? Does organising make you irritable? Perhaps you don’t plan anything because of it and approach your daily activities with dread. Particularly since Covid has forced us to rethink our schedules and establish new patterns.
Or maybe you love planning and can’t stop. So now you’re overwhelmed as there’s not enough time left to put your timetable into action!
Either way, you need to find balance. It’s key to good mental health.
In this post: creating time to achieve mental health balance
But first, the lockdown effect. How one tiny virus has wreaked havoc on our daily routines…
A boundary-busting pandemic
As the first lockdown began, we all had to adapt quickly, many of us to doing everything at home – living, working, ‘socialising’ – all while under huge stress from economic turmoil and a new, uncertain world. We couldn’t go to work, our kids needed home schooling and our lives moved into cyberspace.
Now we’re facing the return to ‘normality’ (whatever that means) there’s a raft of new anxieties about – the dos and don’ts of mask-wearing, the fear of going back to your workplace, commuting with hordes of people every day, and many other things.
We’re still floundering in a world of everchanging rules and boundaries and it’s taking a toll on our mental health.
But you can find balance, and flourish…
Restoring your mental health balance in a post-pandemic world
Structure and routine plus finding ways to express your strong emotions in a safe and self-compassionate way can be incredibly cathartic. So regular journal writing is something I often recommend…
1. Journal writing
This creative process can help you focus on the present moment – what’s happening for you, what you’re feeling – leading to self-learning and healing. And if you can set aside specific times to journal, that works best. Mornings are good for me, but it’s a personal thing so do experiment and find what works for you.
After a while, most people find the journalling routine motivates them to keep going, and it does get easier with time.
Here are ten science-based ideas how to journal.
2. Journal writing alternatives
While journalling can provide relief, allowing you to express strong emotions, writing is not for everyone and could make you feel worse. If you tend to ruminate or brood on things it might encourage you to stay with difficult emotions for too long. So I always consider if you’ll benefit before I prescribe writing to anyone.
Alternative approaches like doodling or using numbers, and writing with self-compassion, can prevent you becoming overwhelmed by negative feelings and emotions. My own journals are a mix of creative images, numbers and handwritten notes (with some digital components).
But I always set aside specific times to journal. When you’ve only got a certain amount of time each day you focus better and can do something different afterwards to distract yourself from any difficulties.
I suggest you journal with guidance from a professional counsellor, especially if you know you’re prone to ruminating. They’ll be able to support you if, and when difficult feelings surface.
3. Integrating activity with counselling and journalling
To achieve mental health balance, it’s good to do physical activity alongside counselling:
- Hatha yoga combines physical postures with breathing exercises and meditation for a gentle and calming experience.
- Mindfulness is a type of meditation that will help you focus on what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment while relaxing your body and mind and helping to reduce stress.
- Corrective exercise will help you move well during workouts and in everyday life.
And many of my clients are less anxious, can move better and are more able to plan well at work, home or in life.
The last couple of years have been hard for us all. It’s likely your daily routine has been impacted by Covid with ongoing effects. So finding mental health balance in today’s world is a challenge. Counselling, journalling and physical activity combined can help.
To find your sweet spot in life – mental health balance – please get in touch.