Online activist and mental health spokesman, Max Hovey, joins us to discuss mental health and how to try and keep on top of your 'bad days' during the current chaos and self isolation.
We are currently living in times that have not been seen since World War Two. However, a global pandemic of this size, leading to such restrictions, has not been seen before in our lifetime. Being on “Lockdown” is quite a scary concept for most of us, one that I don’t think we are ever going to adjust to. Suddenly we cannot go out for coffee, we cannot go browsing in shops, we cannot go to the beach, we can’t even see our friends. When all of these factors are added together, it is very easy to enter the “this is bullsh*t” mindset and let things spiral. Although we are at home with SO much disposable time on our hands, we almost don’t want to do anything. The saying “the less you do, the less you want to do” has so much accuracy and could not be truer of our current situation.
I myself have some days where I am super positive and others where I just want to stay in bed. Some days where I am completely okay and at peace with our current situation, with full intentions of making the best of it. I also have other days where I start to panic about when I am next going to see my boyfriend, or how much this is going to set my career back by, or even if the virus itself will affect one of my loved ones. Now this article isn’t going to be a cure for all of that, the key is to accept when your days are like that. The most important part of staying positive, is to know that you will not be positive all of the time (it sounds counterintuitive, I know). Let me explain. There is a difference between positivity, and being happy or in a good mood:
Positivity: Knowing that there is still good to be had, and things to be grateful for. Knowing that even when times are dark, the light will still come. Seeing the glass as half full rather than half empty. Knowing that even if you’re having a terrible day, that tomorrow is a new one. Positivity is an attitude.
Happiness: The feeling of sheer joy, wanting to smile, feeling upbeat. Having a happy and upbeat approach to everything. The serotonin being released in your brain giving you HAPPY FEELINGS. Happiness is an emotion.
So, in summary, positivity does not always equate to happiness; which a lot of people tend to forget. So now for the actual advice, how can we ensure that we maintain a positive attitude? This is how:
1 - Accept your feelings - Knowing that whatever emotion you are feeling in that moment is ok. Do not feel guilty for being happy when you feel you should be sad or feel ungrateful for feeling sad when you think you should be happy. Every emotion you feel during this is completely valid.
2 - Make a plan - It’s important to maintain a level of structure during lockdown, as it will allow us to feel like life has some form of normality to it. This doesn’t have to be a really long plan (I mean my plan includes breakfast and a shower, you know, baby steps). So, if you want to add small things to achieve, just so you feel like you’re achieving something, then do it! But at least give yourself something to aim for, even if it’s just making your bed every day.
3 - Be kind to yourself - Treat yourself with compassion. These times are completely unprecedented, and we are allowed to feel shit. So, if you need a day of self-care, then allow it. If you have to break your schedule, that is ok.
4 - Keep in touch - We are going through this in our own way. Some of us are struggling most with being away from our partners, some of us are struggling financially, some are worried about the future of their career, some worried about the health of their loved ones, and so many more examples. So now, more than ever, we need to be there to support each other. So, check in on your loved ones. More importantly, if you feel the need to vent or ask
for support, ensure that the person is in the right headspace to reciprocate - which is something I have made the mistake of not doing. As we are all going through it, sometimes the last thing we should be doing is bringing each other down. So, if you need to vent, then vent. Just try to make sure that you are venting to the right person.
5 - Exercise - Doing some form of physical activity is the best distraction. Be it a full-on workout, some cardio, yoga or just a walk. I appreciate, for some people around the world it is not possible to do exercise outdoors at the moment, so something like yoga would be ideal in the home environment. I have found it exceptionally calming and has helped me stay present rather than worrying about the future. But, if it is possible to go outside, even just going for a walk for some fresh air can completely clear your head and calm your nerves.
The main point I want to be taken away from this, is that you don’t have to he happy to be positive. But you have to be positive to be happy. Having the right mental attitude towards our situation will help you to manage it better. So, when your bad days arise you, you will know they are only temporary.
Follow Max on instagram - @max_hovey