There is certainly a lot going on in the world at the moment. All of which are challenging emotionally, mentally, physically and socially. As well as have a negative impact on our levels of wellbeing.Which begs the question? How do we build wellbeing support during challenging times? Which in turn left me thinking how do we support ourselves in this current environment? What are the important things that will protect our wellbeing and mental health? And what can you do personally to support yourself particularly while in the midst of this global pandemic. For myself I created a list of options to draw from. Everyone will potentially have a slightly different list. That is ok. Different things will be important to different people. But these are the things that resonated and felt important for me.
Create a self-support plan
When considering how to build wellbeing support during challenging times firstly its important to try to be proactive around supporting your wellbeing and mental health. Think about what you need long term to feel ok in yourself. Take time to reflect. What are the things that you do and can tap into which support you? Especially when you recognise you are having a challenging time. If it helps write down what you would like in your own Self-Support Action Plan. Put it somewhere that you can see it – let it serve as a visual reminder. Put it on the fridge, screenshot it to your phone, and go through it each day. Then pick one or two things you can do each week to support yourself. Have a self- support plan and choose daily or weekly action steps to implement that will support your wellbeing.
What can you put on your support plan?
Anything that helps you feel better in yourself and improves your sense of wellbeing. It could be talking to friends one or two times a week. Getting to bed at a particular time each night. Switching off from work at a particular time each day. Setting clear boundaries between work time and home time (particularly important if working from home). Activities that actively help you release your stress. Watching your favourite movies, reading a book. The list goes on. What would you like to put on your self-support plan? Ask yourself what are the things that help you specifically unwind, release daily tensions, and feel more at ease in yourself. What are the things to support your wellbeing? What are the things that will help you get unstuck?
You don’t need to do this on your own
The second point, is this, remember you don’t need to do this on your own. If you hear yourself saying “I need to handle this myself” or “I don’t want to burden anyone with my problems” or “I will soldier through on my own”. Stop and take a breath and then work out how you can reach out for support. Carrying problems on your own is a challenge. A problem shared is a problem halved. Its ok for every single one of us human beings to get help and support. That is just how we are made. It helps to talk things out, to verbalise what we are thinking and feeling. Then we can process what our next steps can be. It helps to begin to explore solutions rather than stay stuck in the problem.
Ask for help if you need it
Thirdly when looking to build wellbeing support during challenging times, remind yourself you are not in this alone and its ok to ask for help. Even within social distancing guidelines, reach out to people around you, via Zoom, Telephone, whatever medium works for you. Human connection is important and contributes to long term wellbeing. So reach out to the people around you and talk about how you are feeling.
Seek out professional support
If you recognise that you are still struggling and find that what you are coping with is hard to talk to family and friends about, reach out and seek professional support. Talk to your GP, research or explore charity mental health services, or check to see if your employer’s EAP services offers counselling support packages. But importantly remember you don’t need to go through this on your own.
Focus on what you can directly control
Fifthly, think about and identify aspects of your life that you have direct control over and focus on those. The pandemic is a global issue that we have no control over. Organisations making decisions to let employees go is out of our control too. So stop for a minute and think about what you can shift your focus to. You could focus on how much you exercise, who you can reach out to, what you eat, how you support yourself, being there for your family and friends, getting enough sleep, focusing on creating a more supportive mindset. The list goes on. So think, what do you have direct control over right now?
Be kind to yourself always (silence that inner critic)
When things feel difficult and stressful, some of us can have a tendency to start a negative inner thinking pattern. This can end up putting more pressure on ourselves. If you recognise this in your own thinking patterns, ask yourself this question. Does that thinking nurture, support, empower or enable me? If not, then work to replace the negative thinking with more positive empowering self-talk. Focus on building self-acceptance. Be your own best supporter, look for possibilities rather than problems. Recognise your strengths and how far you have come so far. Stay in the present and take things one day at a time. Things will change over time.
Practice gratitude and laughter daily
And finally in order to build wellbeing support during challenging times don’t forget to allow yourself to find gratitude in the things you do on a daily basis, as well as make space for some fun and laughter as you go. Both these practices help to lift you up, emotionally and energetically. So have a think about everything you have read here. Where could you start to begin to support yourself this week?
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