January can be a difficult month at the best of times. Add in the hardships that come with the pandemic, and the mental toll of the escalating climate emergency, and it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. We’ve put together a guide to look after yourself and your mental health.
Good Energy is lucky to have a team of trained Mental Health First Aiders who have provided a much-needed listening ear to our people this year. We’ve asked them to share some of their top tips for checking in with how you feel this winter.
Our Mental Health First Aiders don’t provide medical guidance. If you or someone else needs support, view NHS guidance on mental health, including a directory of charities that offer independent resources and helplines.
Pick a happy activity
Have an activity in mind that you can do when you’re having a bad day or feeling stressed and need a pick me up. This could be a favourite meal (or take away!), relaxing with a film, going for a walk or run somewhere nice, or just sitting down with a book to read – whatever you like really.
The important bit is that when you do it, you are mindful that it’s part of a positive and active effort to try and de-stress or improve your mood. This self-talk can be a really good way to help nudge your mental health in a better direction; it’s influenced by cognitive behavioural therapy.
Reframe your thoughts
It’s really easy given everything that’s going on to jump to the negative, doom scroll and live in our lives in worst case scenarios. We can’t control what’s going on in the world, but we can control our thoughts and reactions to it. Instead of feeling angry and frustrated about the things you can’t change, focus on the things you can control. Try to find the positive in your situation, however small.
We can’t control what’s going on in the world, but we can control our thoughts and reactions to it.
Being disciplined and taking 10-15 minutes at the end of every day to sit down and practice meditation or mindfulness can make a huge difference. We provide everyone who works at Good Energy with a subscription to the app Headspace, but simply sitting somewhere quiet and breathing deeply can be really helpful too.
Move your body
Try to make the routine of moving a conscious part of your day. This could take many forms – for example stretching (my current goal is to be able to sit in a deep squat and hold it, just like a toddler can), walking, running a punishing 5K, a strength session. No need to be overly prescriptive, work out what your body needs that day and do that.
Find joy in the kitchen
Food is a great source of pleasure at the moment. You could try a new recipe or cook yourself a favourite meal from your childhood. You could take a leaf out of Sophie Ellis Bextor’s book and have a kitchen disco, or if that’s not your idea of fun then you could put on your top playlist as you cook as a way of lifting your mood.
Go easy on yourself
These are incredibly strange times. Remember to give yourself grace: you’re finding it hard because it is hard.
Follow a flexible routine
Following a flexible routine can help to give you give some focus when you are not sure what to do next – particularly on the weekends without the structure of work or school. Add in something to differentiate each day to avoid that groundhog feeling. It might be watching a film instead of whichever series you’re currently binging, doing something creative like playing a musical instrument or doing some art – anything that you can look back on and think ‘that was an enjoyable part of my day’.
Feel empowered to make a difference
Looking for ways you can make a difference can help to stop you feeling helpless. Fighting climate change is a key area that you can have an impact, so why not pledge to protect the planet by making your One Planet Promises? You could look at small steps like reducing your food waste, or something bigger like looking into getting a heat pump.