I hope covid-19 and the lockdown are almost over but if we are unlucky, we will be stuck with it for at least a couple more months. Sitting inside, not seeing your friends as much, and staring at your laptop is not the best thing for your mental health. The days can feel like years and maybe you have the feeling time is ticking away without doing anything fun. More often I hear that people around me don’t feel so well and are struggling to stay positive and motivated. I have spoken to a psychologist and she has shared some of her tips and tricks to keep a positive mindset. This to get us through some rough times. Today I would like to share them with you, maybe it can help you get through the last couple of months of covid-19.
Make sure to plan quality time for yourself
I think everyone has dealt with an endless to-do list or big amounts of homework. Sometimes it may seem that teachers forget that we have multiple courses and deadlines we are working on. Especially in an online environment, it can be hard to keep up with group work. You get multiple messages in different chats. Some people respond to you on the weekends and others decide to message you at 23:00. It is hard to divide when it is time to work and when it is time to take a break. That is why it is so important to plan quality time for yourself! You can tell your group members that you are only available between 9:00 and 17:00 and that you are free on Sunday. With this, you make a clear division when it is time to work and when it is time to relax.
Another tip is to have a separate workroom. This makes it easier to divide work time and free time. Also, make sure when you have free time to avoid your laptop or phone. Try to do something active. You will get more energy from a run or walk than watching a movie on Netflix. I made a list of all the things I enjoy doing in my free time. Every week I try to do something on my list. A few things that are on my list are meeting up with a friend, have a little dance in your room, sing along with old songs from your childhood and painting.
Write down your thoughts on paper
Some of you might experience a bad week where everything sucks and goes wrong. You can get stuck in your head and may have trouble getting rid of negative thoughts and mindsets. A good way to clear your mind is to write it all down on paper. Take five or ten minutes to write everything down. Most of the time when you read it back you will realize how ridiculous and negative your thoughts can be. Once you have done this, crumble up your paper and throw it away. You can also set a timer for yourself to do this exercise. When the time is up do not allow yourself to think about your negative thoughts anymore.
Another tip and the next step can be to rewrite your thoughts. Turn your negative thoughts into positive ones. Most of the time people have wrong assumptions or thoughts about something. Take the time to actively turn them around. For example, She walked right past me in the cafeteria, maybe she does not want to hang out with me and did that on purpose. Turn this around to I think she must have been really busy because she did not see me in the cafeteria. This is because you don’t know for a fact if she does not like you. Most of the time people make things up in their heads and overthink a specific situation. You can easily train your brain to think differently, it only takes time and practice. Keep in mind that your thoughts are not always reality. You just have to look at things from a different perspective.
Ask your friends and family members if they want to write something nice about you
This one may sound silly. I have to admit, when I had to do this exercise, I was not looking forward to it. It was a big step to ask my friends to write something nice about me. To my surprise, all my friends were eager to help me and enjoyed doing it. Nowadays it can feel like you only get feedback on things you can improve. Especially in school where they focus on grades and getting the best results. That is why it is so important to also mention the positive things that are happening. After a week I gathered a few letters from my friends. It made me so happy to read all the nice things they said about me. When I have a bad day I make sure to read the letters again and it instantly makes me feel better.
Write down three things you are grateful for every day
This tip changed my life. I have bought a “five-minute journal” a few years ago and it gives me a page I need to fill in every day. One of those things is listing three things you are grateful for that day. This is a good exercise to make you think about all the positive things that happen and it made me realize how privileged I am. This because there is so much in your life to be grateful for. Another good thing to write down every day is three amazing things that happened. When you look back you get a positive feeling from it. These questions will put you in a good mood right away. It is another way of tricking your brain to think positively and see the beautiful things in life. After a while, I noticed that I see more and more things that make me feel happy.
Overall it is important to take good care of yourself. Don’t be afraid to talk to friends when you are not feeling well. I think there can be a taboo about going to a psychologist or talking about your problems. I can tell you, more people are struggling with something than you think. Be kind to yourself and others. I hope the tips from the psychologist can help you survive covid-19. But you can also use them afterwards anytime you want. Remember, your brain is like a muscle and you can train it the way you want it. It just takes time and practice.