2020 was nothing short of the extraordinary, with some of the changes required to adapt to the local (and global) COVID-19 pandemic being what some would refer to as “extra” and some just “ordinary”. Routine things such as our healthy eating habits, regular exercise and making time to relax were put on the back burner to make way for, amongst many other things, trying to find a quiet spot in the house for your Teams meetings while your partner is in a Zoom meeting, all while the pets think they’re starring in a chaotic scene of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and your kids need you to be teacher, MasterChef and caretaker at the same time… And breathe!
The reality is, we aren’t absolutely sure when (or even if) things will ever go back to “normal” and we’re also unsure of what life will be like after the COVID-19 storm passes. We often hear that happiness comes from the small things in life and, truth be told, very often it does.
So why not try to get out of the COVID-19 slump and get back to a place of contentment again – lockdown regulations, and health and safety included – with some of these ideas:
Talk to yourself like you would a best friend: It’s hard to be happy when someone is constantly criticising you. More often than not, this someone is you. Our inner critic loves to tell us that we’re not this enough or that enough, and that the work we put in will ultimately fail. Would you say these things to a best friend, or to anyone for that matter? Most likely not. A good way to stop those self-insults is to challenge every single thought about yourself by asking yourself, “Is this true? Am I 100% sure that it is true? How does this thought make me feel?” After going through these questions, you’ll realise that these are not true. You can then challenge those thoughts with positivity instead.
Video call a friend: Loneliness is more problematic than ever before with COVID-19 separating people from friends and loved ones. But social-distancing doesn’t mean emotional-distancing. To feel happy, we need to be connected. By connecting, it means regularly checking in with your “tribe” – even those you only see every few months – for a quick catch-up. By video calling or phoning a friend, we often tend to leave the call feeling uplifted, fulfilled and grateful. So, dial a while to put back that smile!
Get moving: Moving our bodies nowadays is more important than ever. Not only does it increase our energy levels, thoughts and feelings, but we’re able, quite literally, to move our way out of our problems or even future medical problems. Virtual meetings and catch-ups are increasing not only our screen time, but also the periods that we sit and work for hours on end. This alone can cause critical medical conditions. So, how do we prevent this, plus lift our energy levels up and help ease anxious thoughts? By moving and it doesn’t have to be at the dreaded gym. You could put on some music and have a dance party by yourself, call up a friend to go for a daily walk, or even do a few minutes of stretching and strengthening in our Tempo virtual pilates classes. To find our more about what dates and times the virtual pilates classes are presented for the region you live in, email us at Tempo@bestmed.co.za.
Cut back on media: There are two types of media content – the nutritious content that makes us feel good and the unhealthy type that can make us feel bad about ourselves, irritated or addicted. From the moment we wake up, we check our phones; and these days mostly our social media accounts or other digital platforms we may subscribe to. Allow yourself time to reflect on what it is you are feeding your thoughts, and ultimately your life, with and unfollow social media accounts and platforms that don’t resonate with your personal values and that make you feel inferior or annoy you. Take time to find music, podcasts, articles and books that add value to your life. In a nutshell, make good media choices.
Sleep tight: Getting enough rest gives us life. You’ve probably been told this a million times, but it’s true and really makes a difference to our overall well-being. By going to bed earlier and getting those eight (8) hours of sleep, we tend to feel far less triggered in the mornings and more energised to complete what we need to do the following day.
Something positive to do, to help you sleep better or doze off, is to think of five to ten things you are grateful for that day. Research shows that people who go to bed with positive thoughts, fall asleep quicker and have a better night’s rest.
Remember that happiness isn’t a permanent state of being, and negative emotions are a completely normal and human experience. Just as time passes by quickly and these COVID-19 times aren’t forever, the negative emotions fluctuate too. But if you find that you really aren’t coping, remember that there are many specialist doctors – supported by Bestmed – who are here to help you.
Bestmed has partnered with the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) to offer members across all 13 of the Bestmed options a free 24-hour mental health helpline, with the aim to support members who are experiencing mental health issues.