What has ‘lockdown’ meant for you? What’s been good about it? I ask as positive thought could not be more important for managing your mental health during lockdown and beyond.
It is the very foundation for self-compassion and good mental health.
The demands on our mental health during long periods of isolation are well documented, but those of you who read my blog, and I thank you, know that I do not dwell.
I acknowledge, accept and empathise that we are all frustrated, scared and saddened by the current lockdown however, I remain a solution focused practitioner, resolute in the fact that what is in the past is in the past and there is nothing you or I can do about it – I accept.
This does not mean I retreat into myself, that I make ‘Ben & Jerry’ my best friend or berate myself for not having learnt Mandarin.
What I have done is take small positive steps everyday. I am not talking about decorating the house, renovating the garden or baking ferociously in preparation for the Great British Bake Off 2021, no I am talking about small steps that keep me positive of thought, action and interaction.
I work hard to notice, savour and value the little things I do. For example when I awake in the morning to another ‘Groundhog Day’ and experience those negative thoughts, I acknowledge them; ‘I see you, coming at me to neg me out’.
“I place these negative thoughts in the proverbial waiting room, but I do not admit them to my actions or interactions.”
I acknowledge that I am feeling flat, unmotivated or just that things might just be ‘better’ if I stayed in bed, but I do not act or interact on it.
Rather I get up; I wash my face, shave, and get dressed.
The neurological impact of these small steps, on the face of it, ‘so what’ behaviour is hugely significant to my state of wellbeing. Right out the gate on a Tuesday morning I choose to notice, savour and value that I retained intellectual control, I engaged my anterior cingulate, slowed my thinking down and got out of bed, washed, shaved and dressed. Right there that is five, yes five, opportunities for serotonin production, and as we all know serotonin is the feel good chemical.
- Acknowledging the negative thought and not acting on it
- Slowed my thinking down and asked what can I do
- Got up,
- Washed my face, shaved and got dressed
- Noticed, Savoured & Valued that I can identify positive solutions
It all comes down to how you think, how you frame or reframe, how you choose to exercise your pre-frontal cortex. This is where your intellectual control resides, where a proper assessment of any given situation can be made and positive solutions can be identified.
As this small step shows, how you choose to think is your source of serotonin production. The more serotonin you produce the better you feel, the less stress goes in your stress bucket and you have greater capacity to cope, feel in control and start to experience moments of joy.
These issues I have speed through have all been covered in previous blogs but, I really wish to emphasise that everyday starts with your first conscious thought and as my Cognitive Behaviour CBT colleagues would testify thoughts influence feeling, feelings influence behaviours, behaviours influence thoughts which in turn influence thoughts, feeling and behaviours.
When those ‘neggy’ thoughts present I implore you to consider what small positive step you can take right now, vanquish those thoughts, notice savour and value that you choose to think, feel and behave positively.
When you’re thinking about how to manage your mental health during lockdown reflect dynamically on this and ask yourself: What did you do? What is different and now, what will you be able to do next?
Reflecting positively on your thoughts, the literal catalyst, for how you subsequently feel and behave / act and interact helps you to notice, savour and value the small steps you are making. Ask yourself:
- What have you noticed
- What have you savoured
- What do you value about you, the situation or event?
I’m asking you to think, feel and behave more positively because it’s what you can do right now, whilst accepting that this lockdown, and all that it entails, is out of your control.
Focus on what you CAN do; accept what is out of your control so that you become more adept at noticing, savouring and valuing what’s been good from your point of view.
I’m asking that you internalise those moments of positive thought and notice, savour and value what that means to you, embrace it, own it.
Understand that these positive feelings are a construct of your thoughts, you now feel better and your behaviours reflect that positivity. It’s a little win, but it is our responsibility is to cultivate as many of those little wins as it is in our gift to do.
The more wins you notice savour and value the better you will feel and the better your mental health will be.
Brett Rennolds is a qualified Solution Focused Hypnotherapist DSFH, HPD, MNCH NCH Supervisor and registered with the Complimentary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Brett will be providing signposting to aid in essential self care for all, via his website, in the sincere wish that the help helps.