Read these 16 tips on how to manage your mental health as a digital marketer during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Who else is tired of emails opening with the sentence?
“I hope this email finds you well during these unprecedented and uncertain times.”
They don’t compel me to read the rest of it and, in fact, highlight how tough the pandemic is (as if we didn’t already know). It’s one thing to be aware but another to feel overwhelmed by it all hence why it’s so important to look after your mental health. So I’ve compiled a list of 16 tips you could use to help manage your mental health as a digital marketer during COVID-19.
1. Check in with people
This one can be difficult if you feel like who want to curl up into a ball and not talk to anyone. And to some degree, I’ve felt that way and done the same. But it can be a great relief to talk to the people closest to you about something – anything. Whether you need some reassurance after being furloughed or you could do with speaking about everyday life, the weather, and your favourite tv shows, turning to someone you can rely on can really change your mood.
In contrast, if you don’t really have the energy to speak to people you know (for the sake of explaining things or feeling like a burden), surrounding yourself with good people can be enough. This might be as simple as speaking to people on Twitter or replying to the odd post, but I guarantee you’ll feel refreshed and just a little bit better for getting something off your mind.
2. Reduce, rinse, repeat
Being stuck inside for most of your time does come with some advantages. Boredom will inevitably set in and you’ll start to actually see the house you live in and realise how lucky you are to live in your home, or “wow, I need to get rid of stuff” (unless you’re one of those minimalists).
You won’t be able to take stuff to the charity shops at the moment, but you can always get rid of the disposable rubbish you’ve accumulated. And while you’re at it, give the place a clean. This works great as a destresser and to take your mind off things whilst also allowing you to think, work, and live without as many distractions. In my opinion, less clutter in the room means less clutter in the mind.
3. Make a budget
Yes, I’m talking about the M word. It obviously depends on the situation you’re in, but if you can, being stuck indoors provides a great opportunity to save money. Even if it’s £5 or £10 a week that you’d normally spend out of procrastinating, it’ll all add up in the long-run and help make a difference. A good place to start is to make a budget. Be honest, realistic, and see where you stand.
For example, I’m saving money on public transport as I’m not travelling to work but my council tax payments have gone up. Despite this, I’m still able to assess my finances and see where and how I could potentially cut back on commuting when the social distancing restrictions are lifted. It’s all about prioritising
If you need help, there are budgeting apps that can help as well as banks like Monzo that come with budgeting facilities.
4. Make a playlist of feel-good music
There’s nothing like a good playlist to get you out of a funk. The music doesn’t necessarily have to be “feel-good” in the bright, high tempo sense; just as long as it makes you feel good and helps you escape the real world for a little bit. I highly recommend Deep Crawl’s awesome SEO playlist on Spotify for some SEO-related songs (including some of my own selections).
Listening to music releases endorphins, dopamine and serotonin in the brain, which can lead to feelings of happiness and joy. Music therapy is also an option for those with disabilities or injuries that need it as part of their recovery.
5. Make a playlist of funny videos
If you’d prefer to laugh, you can always make a YouTube playlist of funny videos. I’ve started adding a lot of videos to my “Watch Later” playlist and working my way through them, whenever I need a little cheering up. Much in the way that music can make us feel happier, visual stimulation can do the same. Laughter is the best medicine and all that.
6. Do some form of exercise
Before lockdown, I was going to the gym three times a week mainly to improve my mental health and it was working. Needless to say, things haven’t been quite as active at home. But you don’t need a gym membership to work out, nor do you need it for the necessary discipline.
There are plenty of workout apps and YouTubers offering free workouts to keep you active. And it’s not all about weight loss – exercise has other benefits including combating mild depression and anxiety.
7. Create a workspace for yourself
If you’re fortunate enough to have the space for a dedicated working area, I strongly suggest you take advantage of it. Why? Because working in bed won’t necessarily get you in the mindset to do your best work – it might feel cosy at first, and much better than maybe being in the office, but your energy levels won’t be as high as they would if you got up. You’d be surprised at how productive you can be at a desk rather than slumped amongst your duvet and pillows.
Environmental design psychologist Dr Sally Augustin says that making your brain feel comfortable in its surroundings is the main focus when making a clear and tidy area for your workspace. That can include something like a white noise soundtrack to promote concentration and trying to get natural light in your room or using “cooler-toned light bulbs” to help your brain tell the difference between your work area and the rest of the house. But for those who don’t have a dedicated room, any clear space can help with minimal physical and auditory distractions.
You can even try things like:
- Turning your laptop or computer off when you’ve finished work and move to a different area of the house
- Going out on your lunch, even to the garden, just to replicate your usual routine in the office
- Opening a window to let some fresh air in (if that’s an option)
Little changes can go a long way to prolonging your comfort.
8. Take regular breaks
One of the biggest things I don’t do while working from home is take regular breaks. But, as I’ve realised, our eyes need time away from your screen to prevent eye fatigue, headaches, and even nausea.
There are also other benefits to taking breaks from work such as combating “decision fatigue”, boost motivation, and make you more productive. It can also help your memory – much like decluttering a room, breaks can consolidate your memories and “tidy up” your brain, ready for your tasks when you return to work.
Plus, from me to you, we actually deserve breaks at work. there’s a reason we’re given them, and a much bigger reason as to why we should take them. Our brains need fresh air and our bodies need to move – sitting at a laptop or computer for 9 hours straight isn’t good for anybody. Especially during this time.
9. Do the things you’ve been putting off
We often procrastinate because we think we have the time to do things later. But when something like a pandemic forces you to stay indoors everyday, you suddenly realise how uncertain life can be. That’s not to say you must use every waking minute doing something but taking a step back and thinking about the things you’ve been avoiding can ignite a little bit of motivation.
For instance, what have you been putting off and why? Do you honestly have the time to make those things happen now? It could be as simple as clearing out your underwear drawer or as difficult as you thought ringing to make an appointment would be – now to realise it was so much easier than anticipated. before you know it, another task is ticked off the list.
10. Create a to-do list
My memory isn’t what it used to be and to-do lists have been a godsend during this pandemic. It helps me to stay focused and organised and I’ve seemingly been avoiding things that don’t actually bring me much joy, i.e. binge watching netflix and scrolling through social media.
These are things that feel much more enjoyable when you’ve actually done something productive, though some days it’s okay to sit and do nothing. Finding the balance is key, but to-do lists can really be a helping hand.
There are tons of apps for that sort of thing but my favourite is Todoist (RIP Wunderlist).
11. Cancel plans if you need to
This one is a little controversial as there’s often a debate over whether you should cancel plans with people or stick through it in an act of resilience. But I think it’s more nuanced than cancel or don’t cancel.
- If you need to cancel/postpone/rearrange something, and it’s possible to do so, do it.
- If you can’t, and it’s safe to do so, explain your reservations or concerns so the other person or people are aware and can accommodate for any requirements you need.
- If you’re regularly cancelling plans, there may be something more serious going on that you need to address. There are people you can talk to if that’s an option to you, such as trusted friends and family or an external services like the Samaritans or CALM.
The important thing is not to feel guilty as that will compound your feelings even more.
In most cases, if you’ve made plans with someone or a group of people, you must have a decent enough relationship to consider it in the first place. Which, in turn, means they should respect your decision and avoid forcing you to do something you don’t want to. Good friends will tell you to put yourself first, not make you feel like you mustn’t.
12. Be conscious of your language around mental health
There’s been a lot of talk about mental health in the workplace over the last few months and for those working from home, communication will be through services like Skype, Google Meet, and Zoom. That can be quite a shift for people who prefer in-person contact and so using this technology comes with pitfalls – namely misinterpretations.
On the subject of mental health, it’s important to consider the language you use in emails and on video calls that may make people uncomfortable or feel excluded. A few of my tips are:
- Avoid words like “crazy” or “mental” when describing something unexpected – consider alternatives like “ridiculous” or “unbelievable”, for example.
- Be wary of how you talk about other people, even if they aren’t in the conversation.
- Don’t be offended if someone calls you out and don’t attack them for it. Take it as an opportunity to learn.
It can be difficult but calling out language you feel is discriminatory can prevent it from becoming more normalised. By being more aware and actively inclusive, you can help create a safer environment for everyone.
Social media has its good and bad points. It can help you keep in touch with friends across the world, enjoy memes, and find useful news depending on where you look. But it can also be a toxic place and not the kind of environment you need if you’re struggling with your mental health.
If it’s all getting too much, consider logging off or deactivating if the temptation to go online is too strong. But, if you just want to readjust/rework (not sure what the word is) your timeline, you can:
- Use Twitter lists for a more condensed experience
- Go through your following list and unfollow people who make you feel down, uneasy, or uncomfortable
- Mute people if you need some time away from their tweets
Whatever you do, remember it’s your timeline, not anybody else’s.
14. Try ASMR
Something else I do that gets a bad rep is ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) but it works for some people. It’s a neurological experience conjured by listening to soft voices, resulting in tingling sensations in parts of the body.
It doesn’t work for everyone, and could end up being an irritant, but studies have been carried out assessing the sensations and what they can do to the brain.
15. Feel your feelings…
There’s a tendency to mask your emotions to conform to a cult of positivity. Do you feel pressured to do self-care, smile away your feelings, think of others who have it worse so you shouldn’t feel bad about yourself? Then try something different: just feel. If you’re frustrated or overwhelmed, just feel that and be in that space for that moment and let it ride out. Think of it like a storm that comes and passes. There might not be a rainbow right after but your mind will be a little clearer and you’ll be better prepared for when it comes back.<br> <br> As simple as it sounds, letting all of your emotions out in one go, or at least the majority of them, will allow more time and space for you to enjoy later on. With less distractions, you can work on all of the things we’ve mentioned so far, making even the smallest of changes to improve your mental health. it all makes a difference.
16. …But don’t be hard on yourself
My last piece of advice is to take it easy. It’s tough out there but that doesn’t mean you have to be tough on yourself. I’ve noticed on social media people suggesting you must use all this “free time” to improve yourself, learn new things, be productive. But just trying to survive and be okay can be a struggle so if you’re doing that right now, you’re being productive.
Doing what you can do is enough, more than enough in fact.
Stay home and stay safe
Whatever you decide to do, the number one priority during this pandemic is to stay home and stay safe. Wash your hands regularly, wear masks if you have them when you go out, keep 2m apart, and only go out when you absolutely have to.
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