Mental Health in a world turned upside down

As the whole world seems to shift around us and I feel the weight of other people’s fears, panic and terror trying to trigger these things in me, there is a part of me that knows this will not serve me. And I also believe it’s not what people need from me right now. I think what people need is for me to be informed yes, but also be calm, to make decisions with a clear head and not to throw fuel on the fire of these emotions in those around me. I have never experienced a significant physical health crisis and based on all the information I’ve seen, I’m in an extremely low risk group if (or when) I do contract Covid-19. But I have experienced a significant mental health crisis and I have spent 7 years experimenting with and embedding habits that can keep me well, even when things are tough. And things are starting to get tough. So I thought I would share the things that I’m doing at the moment to keep myself feeling mentally resilient in a world turned upside down.

1) Mindful consumption of information 

I stopped regularly following the news year ago after reading a book that cited the hugely negative impact the sensationalised rolling-news machine could have on mental health. As the CEO of a company of 12 and Trustee of a Community Centre, I recognise that I need to change this approach so I have the most up to date government advice and information to make decisions about the people within my care. So I’ve made a decision that 2 x a day I will spend 30 minutes checking news websites and will also watch the Prime Ministers daily press conference. Before making this rule, I spent a day clicking on article after article and spent 3 hours reading, ruminating, worrying. I don’t think this made me more informed. Just more scared. So I’ve implemented a new guideline for myself and it’s feeling a lot better since then.

2) Activities that I know help me feel grounded and present

Through my experiments, I have discovered a number of activities that make me feel grounded, even when there seems to be chaos around me. I know it’s more important than ever for me to make the time to do these things at the moment. For me, these are my daily yoga practice, reading books that are engrossing and engaging and give me new ideas and perspectives and mindfulness or meditation practices. I’ve also discovered that it’s not enough for me to just do these activities in a check-box kind of way. If I do these things, but my mind is still elsewhere, they won’t have the same grounding affect. So in addition to giving myself time to do these, I also give myself permission to immerse myself completely and not be worrying or ruminating about other things. Friends have shared lots of other activities that work for them from cooking, gardening, playing instruments, artistic and creative activities. What are the activities that are grounding for you?

3) Connecting with others 

At a time of social distancing when we’re going to be having fewer “in person” connections, I know it’s absolutely essential to my wellbeing to have meaningful connections with people I care about. Part of this for me has been accelerating the launch of the Satsang because I want to have an easy way to connect with amazing people, but I also wanted to create a way for people to connect with each other. As someone who lives alone, I know the riskiest times for me are those when I feel isolated and avoid social contact. I have made a commitment to myself to stay as connected as I can be with the people who make me feel good, even if that connection cannot be in person. Join the Satsang

4) Being careful about the stories I tell myself

The biggest threat to my mental health has always been my own mind. I have such an active mind and when it’s focused on solving genuine problems and is a conduit for taking my intuition and giving it form, it is one of the things I’m most grateful for. But it can also go off in very unhelpful directions and create stories about catastrophic future events, get stuck in a spiral of rumination and overwhelm and tell me I’m not going to be able to cope with what will happen. I have got a lot better at “catching” these stories early on now and not allowing them to become my truth, but that is going to be increasingly challenging as the rhetoric around us becomes more and more terrifying. This is perhaps an area where we can help each other. There is a saying I love that says “you can’t read the label from the inside of the jar.” Sometimes it’s difficult to see when you’re telling yourself a disempowering story, because to you it feels like a terrifying truth. This is maybe an area we can provide each other with loving feedback if we notice that anyone is getting trapped in stories that don’t serve us.

I wanted to close with something I felt called to write out in my journal yesterday morning and I’ve found it really helpful over the last 24 hours.

Grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change

Courage to change what I can

And wisdom to know the difference

Do share any thoughts you have on this article and also anything you’re doing to look after your mental health. Sending much love Xxx