7 Expert Ways to Boost Your Mental Resilience After Lockdown

7 Expert Ways to Boost Your Mental Resilience After Lockdown

Lockdown is lifting: from seeing friends more regularly to places becoming busier, the scene is set for a wonderful return to normality. However, it can be overwhelming to jump back in.

That’s where resilience comes in. Building resilience can help us to adapt in situations that leave us feeling anxious or vulnerable. ‘Lockdown has impacted the physical, social, emotional and psychological domains that contribute to our personal resilience,’ explains Dr Lucy Stirling, clinical psychologist and Director at HelloSelf. ‘The degree of impact will vary by individual, but it’s likely many of us will notice how our thoughts, feelings and behaviours have been affected.’

From feeling socially anxious and disconnected to fatigued and oversensitive, a lack of resilience can make it difficult to bounce back in the face of adversity. ‘Resilience is not just about how we navigate a life disruption or an extended period of pressure, but also how we emerge out the other end,’ adds Dr Stirling.

Below, we share some expert strategies to help you feel more grounded and equipped to cope with life changing yet again.

‘Often, when you feel anxious your breathing pattern will change. Let yourself really think about it: is it shallow or deep, fast or slow? Take your time and regulate your breathing – counting to five as you breathe in and 10 as you breathe out can help with anxious feelings,’ says Ben Graham, Head of Coaching at Sanctus.

If you want to take a closer look at your breathing rate, the Fitbit Sense smartwatch works to give you a deeper understanding of what’s going on inside. Within the Health Metrics dashboard in the Fitbit app, you can see your breathing rate, which is captured while you sleep, helping you to spot signs of significant changes over time.

Life moves quickly and it can be easy to get swept up in it. Treat and speak to yourself with kindness when you’re feeling overwhelmed or overcommitted. Remember, you’re trying your best and getting better every day, even when it feels like you aren’t.

‘Develop the good habit of checking in with yourself,’ Dr Stirling recommends. ‘Ask yourself the questions: how resilient am I feeling right now? How about this time last week? Is it different, and if so, why? What action can I take now to improve how I’m feeling?’

Exercise can be brilliant for flipping your mood. It’s also a great way of boosting the physical side of personal resilience. Pick an exercise you like and commit to doing just five minutes at a time. Once the five minutes have passed, you’ll probably want to continue, as your body will be releasing some sweet endorphins along the way.

If you want to track your performance, a health smartwatch can be a game-changer. During workouts, the Fitbit Sense allows you to monitor your heart rate by sharing real-time stats on screen. The all-day activity tracking also keeps a record of steps, distance, floors climbed, Active Zone Minutes and calories burned to help you meet your fitness goals.

To improve your emotional resilience, start noting a daily gratitude to highlight moments of positivity and joy. ‘Practising gratitude reduces anxiety and even stimulates the motivation and emotion centres in the brain, propelling us to a positive outlook and action,’ says chartered psychologist, mental health and wellbeing expert and author of Dr Audrey Tang. At the end of each day, try the following four-step gratitude activity by writing down:

Sleep plays a key role in everyday resilience. To help improve sleep quality, Dr Tang suggests logging off social media at least one hour before bed.

‘Another good tip is to keep a writing pad by your bed for when you wake in the middle of the night and need to remember something for the next day,’ she says.

To help you establish an effective rhythm, the Fitbit Sense monitors your time spent in light, deep and REM sleep. It produces a Sleep Score each morning reflecting the quality of sleep the previous night, so you can gradually work towards improving it.

GP, coach and founder of The Lifestyle First Method® Dr Alka Patel recommends visualising yourself to calmness.

‘Imagine that all your anxious thoughts and feelings are debris in a river and you’re being carried away by the current of this river of distress, struggling to stay afloat. Now imagine that you’re standing on the river bank, watching all the thoughts, sensations and feelings passing by. You watch a log with the thought ”I am nervous” on it float by; you watch a leaf with the feeling “fear” on it float by; you watch your anxiety float by, all while standing and watching from the river bank, rather than being carried away by the river.'

Feeling present can help to dispel symptoms of anxiety. You can practise this through meditation or simple methods such as noticing and naming what’s immediately around you, as well as by eating more slowly.

‘Indulge your senses with a comforting blanket, soothing music or scented candles. Self-care and self-nurture should be a priority,’ says founder of the Emotional Wellness Clinic and Cannaray scientific board member Dr P Balu. No need to tell us twice.

Prefer to keep it technical? When you buy a Fitbit Sense smartwatch you’ll unlock a six-month membership of Fitbit Premium, which has advanced stress-management and mindfulness tools. To help keep your emotional wellbeing in balance, Sense users get a daily ‘stress management score’, based on activity levels, sleep and heart rate, where a higher number means you’re showing fewer physical signs of stress.

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