Five ways to support your mental health in uncertain times
We are dealing with a lot of uncertainty at the moment. It can feel like there are increasing events of global significance, from natural disasters to wars. The news of these may feel relentless. While we are naturally resilient, these events can take a toll on our mental health and it can be difficult to know the best way to look after ourselves. Here's five things you can do during especially uncertain times:
- Focus on what you can control.
Even in uncertain times, there are always elements within our control but it is often a focus on what we can’t control that drives stress and anxiety.
- Ask yourself, is the source of my worry within my control? Is there something I can do to change my situation?
- If yes, you know what to do! Remember that sometimes you can leave a situation and sometimes you can’t. Building resilience is about successfully coping through challenging situations, but there are times when the best choice might be to leave.
- If no, is there something that can make your experience of this situation easier? While we can’t often control our emotions, we can control how we react to them, and what we do or say when stressed or worried. Sometimes our reactions can complicate things, but there are lots of helpful strategies that could make coping through a challenging situation easier.
2. Keep on top of your everyday needs
Set a routine for yourself, e.g., going to bed and waking up at a certain time of day, or scheduling key activities. Take care to get enough sleep and consider your sleep habits if these are hard for you right now. Eat well and stay hydrated. Set boundaries for yourself around what you are reading and watching, and the amount of time you are spending doing this. Instead, make time for pleasant activities, such as reading, listening to music, or spending time on a hobby.
3. Maintain connection
Meet up with friends and family and when you can't get out in-person make use of ways to connect remotely, such as video-calling. Engage in regular acts of kindness, e.g., check in and offer support to others if you feel able. Spend time with your pet if you have one.
4. Attend to existing health needs
Existing mental health difficulties can get aggravated by stressful events, so keep in touch with your existing mental health professional (e.g., counsellor, therapist, or psychologist), or find one on Clearhead here: Find A Therapist. Continue to take your medication and attend physical health appointments, if applicable. If you feel like the situation is impacting your health, reach out to a healthcare professional.
If you would like some additional support you can phone 13 11 14 (Australia) or 1737 (New Zealand) for free counselling support.
5. Practice helpful coping strategies
If you’re struggling right now, remember to use one of your go-to coping strategies. If you’re not sure what to do, try out a couple of the following suggestions and see what works best for you:
- Find ways to calm your nervous system, such as deep breathing, mindful grounding, or a meditation. You can find meditation guides on Clearhead's Useful Resources section.
- Use self-compassion by reminding yourself that what you are feeling is normal. Acknowledge your challenging thoughts and emotions with non-judgmental compassion and validation. There are lots of self-compassion practices to try, such as kind self-talk, or laying compassionate hands upon the place in your body where you feel stress and anxiety most strongly.
- Seek nature and sunlight whenever you can, whether it’s sitting outside in the sun, or going for a walk. Try some physical activity such as yoga, swimming, or dancing.
- Make space for gratitude and hopefulness: Take a moment in your day to reflect on something you are grateful for, and something you are looking forward to. You can also journal your feelings when they get too big.
Kia kaha. He waka eke noa.
Stay strong. We are all in this together.