How To Look After Yourself For Free
It has been over a year now since the first lockdown. Due to the uncertainty that we all faced with some being furloughed or losing their jobs, and subsequent money concerns, it’s natural that we may find our stress levels up. We are working in our fight, flight and freeze part of the brain which encourages us to think negatively for our own self-preservation. At this time, due to our concerns over cost and the future, our mental health and wellbeing may not be prioritised however actually continuing with therapy or any wellbeing activity is beneficial. If you can find a way to prioritise a little money by reducing something else in order to keep up the activity or therapy, it will be better. If you are really struggling, try speaking to your therapist to see if they have a concession place. Some therapists will have 1 or 2 client places where they can decide to offer a reduction in cost per session. This is completely at the discretion of the therapist and does not have to be offered. You may also have to be prepared that their concession sessions could be fully booked. However, if it still seems that continuing is not possible here are some ideas to help yourself at home for free.
Take time for you. Do something that you love and enjoy so you can completely switch off. My husband loves tinkering on engines and fixing things. We currently have an old boat engine that needs to be fine-tuned so after work, off he goes to have a play. He is incredibly happy, and we have less of a shouty Daddy.
Talk to friends or a trusted person. You have heard me say this before that we are better as a tribe than as individuals but when we are struggling, it can be difficult to share as the brain is giving us the wrong messages. I would say though that instead of just talking about the problem and how bad it is, look to make the conversation positive. Yes, share it and get it off your chest, but also look to come up with solution and actions to take forward. Action eliminates anxiety and give us control over things.
Get out and have some fun! It does not have to cost anything. Find the lighter side of life with the people you care about, and even try to do something outside of what you would normally do! Remember that laughing costs nothing and is a powerful tool to help us turn off that fight, flight, and freeze response.
Anchoring, deep breathing and mindfulness techniques. I love all of these and the more you practice these, the easier they get. Often, these techniques are all about your 5 sense and the good news is that you have these wherever you go, plus they are free!! Have a look on my Facebook page for some great ideas to practice. https://www.facebook.com/AmyJohnsHypnotherapy/
Practice gratitude. Focus in on what is good in your life. Yes, there may be elements that are not great but I bet that there are also things that are good. Take time everyday to reflect on what has gone well. Think about what has pleased you, or what are you are thankful for.
Get the basics right! Eat well, sleep well, and move more.
Eat Well. Look at what you are eating. If we can put healthy things into our tummies, it will help. Very simply, we produce 90% of our serotonin in our gut. If we can balance out our body and brains, we will cope better with whatever life has in store.
Sleep well. When we are asleep, our brains are at work sweeping up and clearing out. If our routine is not great, we stay up too late and therefore don’t get the number of hours we need or the quality of sleep we need. This will impact on how we think, feel and act. We can work on beginning to change it to make it better by keeping any changes small and achievable. For example, try moving your lights out time forward by 30 minutes for a couple of weeks and then move it again by another 30 minutes or try charging your phone in the kitchen rather than beside the bed.
You may not like this, but if your alcohol intake has been creeping up, try to cut it back or even cut it out entirely. We may feel like it helps us to unwind at the end of the day and help us to sleep, but it is having the opposite effect. It stops us from getting good REM sleep and that is the bit that does all the clearing and sorting out in our brains. I know that for me to keep my good mental health, I have to keep my alcohol down and if I have a period of time where drink a lot, I notice it in the way I think and feel. Within a couple of weeks, I guarantee that you will notice how much more energy you have and how much stronger you feel. Also, it will save you money!
Move more. Yes, I talk about why I run a lot. It was the thing I needed to help me get back after I hit rock bottom. It is another free tool at my disposal to keep my mental health good. And again, when I do not run or do exercise, after a few days I notice the difference in how I feel. I know not everyone wants to run, but schedule time in your diary to get out and move, even if it is just a 30 min walk. It is all good. Enjoy the opportunity to spend time doing something just for you.
By just starting small and making one small change, you will notice the difference it makes to feeling calmer, happier, and coping more in life. If you find yourself struggling to implement the changes you want, prioritise yourself and ask an expert for help. Very quickly, you will get back on track. The more you put yourself first, the more you will have to give the people and situations around you.