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A psychologist shows us how to reframe mental wellbeing during COVID

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Brianna Thomas is a psychologist working with women and teens in the Canberra region.

Passionate about women’s mental wellbeing, Brianna shows us how we can reframe mental wellbeing in the age of COVID.

How highly does your mental health rank on your priorities list right now?

The world is a little crazy and we can get swept up in just trying to cope. People are working from home, not seeing friends and spending hours on draining video calls to get through their days, which are no longer normal.

You can tell if you’re not in the best mental shape because you might be tired, having more negative thoughts and being harder on yourself, be in bad moods, and be more preoccupied by worries.

It’s time to do a rethink and approach yourself a little differently.

Nurture your wellbeing like a plant

Firstly, I like to encourage people to start with the basics and view themselves like a plant. Are you getting enough water, nutrients and sunlight? Yes? Good. Then think a little deeper. There are four things that everyone needs if they’re going to survive this time in one whole, healthy piece.

The first of these is connection. Humans are built to be in relationships and even introverts need good-quality connections. Are you a bit deprived of people? Message a friend or arrange to have a virtual cuppa with someone.

Secondly, we all need to feel like we’re achieving things. Whether it be a big goal with a great sense of purpose or something small like making the bed, make sure you’re getting that sense of achievement.

Thirdly, we need downtime. Some people find that Netflix binges are relaxing, but I would encourage you to do something a bit more intentional. If you’re going to watch screens for downtime, you do that—but just one or two episodes and remember to move your body every now and then. Whatever you do to relax, do it on purpose, not mindlessly.

Lastly, move it, move it! Exercise has been proven to be as effective for depression as anti-depressants if you can do it 3-4 times a week for 30-45 minutes.

Pop your joggers on and go for a walk around the block. If you hate this idea, bring your Netflix show with you, but get moving.

Sleep on it

On top of these four things, getting a good night’s sleep is really important to maintaining good mental health during this crazy time.

If you’re struggling to sleep, review what you’re doing the hour before bed. Screens emit a blue light that tells your brain it’s daytime, so avoid that in the hour before bed if you can.

The best way to try and get yourself into bed and falling asleep quickly is to do the same thing in your hour-before-bed routine every night and train your brain to start slowing down.

Waking up at the same time every morning can be a powerful way to reset your circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle), especially if you follow it up with getting some delicious sunshine, to stop the release of melatonin in your brain, which makes you tired.

Routine is your friend

Whatever you’re doing, try and make sure you have some routine. If you’re struggling to get yourself moving or have a list way too long to keep on top of, plan three things you’ll do each night for the next day.

You don’t want your list to be too long because you could get overwhelmed, so adjust the number of things for whatever suits you.

Altogether, it’s important you reflect on your situation—just take two seconds—and think about what you need.

If you would like to work on your wellbeing, think about joining hundreds of women in the My Colourful Mind Wellness Glow-Up in June, which is a free, online, four-week program which covers mental and physical wellbeing.

Go to www.mycolourfulmind.com/wellness-glow-up to sign up.

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