Monday 20 April 2020

Physical Health, Mental Wellbeing, and Staying Productive

Katie shares advice for maintaining mental wellbeing and staying productive during the allergy season. 
-  Katie Heyes

With reports of the highest spring pollen level in 69 years, those of us with hay fever may be facing additional challenges to maintaining mental wellbeing and a productive routine. Hay fever can make you feel fatigued, unfocused, and lack energy – combining in a negative mindset and sending productivity down the drain. This can negatively impact on wellbeing in many ways, especially under the current conditions of coronavirus. 

For one, the struggle to be productive can increase existing feelings of stress and anxiety around remaining uni work. Secondly, it can make it even harder to maintain a mentally healthy routine of focused activity, outside activity and exercise, than it already is during lockdown. Moreover, because many of the symptoms of hay fever are similar to coronavirus, this can be an additional source of stress and anxiety. I found this article useful in distinguishing the symptoms, but if you are concerned that you might be experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, it is always important to check trusted websites such as the NHS to be sure.  

Whilst dealing with a nasty flu or cold isn’t ideal and has definitely put me in a negative mind-set over the past few days, I want to share some of the ways I’ve been trying to look after my mental wellbeing and deal with my uni workload whilst still taking care of my physical health. 

1. Mindfulness Wordsearch: 
As I’m often waking up still lacking energy and feeling quite unfocused, I’ve felt like doing something a bit less demanding than uni work to get the cogs in the brain set in motion. And sometimes there’s nothing better than a good old-fashioned word search. Not only are there benefits for the brain such as boosting your memory and vocabulary but the short-lived success from finding a tricky word can be very satisfying which stimulates the brain’s reward system. This one I’m currently using is centred around Mindfulness; each page focuses on different surroundings like waterfalls or flowers with an additional mindful quote at the bottom. So not only do I get a chance to practice one of my favourite therapies, but I also get to keep my brain active and mind focused. Plus, it also gives us a chance to unplug from social media which given the current pandemic leading to a widespread TikTok obsession, couldn’t come at a more needed time. 

2. Writing: 
I truly don’t know where I’d be without the good old pen and paper sometimes. Whilst life can feel very hectic and some of the situations we may face can feel out of our control, for me writing has always been a way I can make sense of what’s going on and look after my mental wellbeing. Trying to define why I’m feeling a certain way and what could be causing it becomes a lot easier to decipher when writing it down rather than keeping it all jumbled in my head. And what’s even better is that it’s something I can do in bed. I can rest and conserve my energy yet also doing what I love best. It could be writing a blog post like this or just whatever’s going through my mind at that point in time, I can take my focus away from how rubbish I’m feeling by focusing on something else, yet still not as demanding as studying may be. 

3. Work in Small Bursts: 
Although it might be difficult at first because presumably all you want to do is sleep sleep sleep, by working in short bursts and adding frequent breaks it’ll not only help you gradually adjust back to a normal working schedule you’ll find the work a lot more manageable. 

If any of you might be affected by hay fever season, hopefully some of these examples might help. - Katie x 

For more advice on looking after your wellbeing, click here

I'm Katie, currently a Modern Languages student at Durham University, with a passion and drive to fight against mental stigmas and offer my support to anyone who feels like they can’t reach out. I hope everybody can get a little something out of my posts. No matter where you look there is always support whichever way you turn!

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