4 steps for looking after our mental health during these unsettling times

deoressed 2020

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Douglas Broom, Senior Writer, Formative Content


  • Finding the time and inclination to look after ourselves can be difficult at the moment.
  • Self-care is important, however, and doesn’t need to be onerous.
  • Here are 4 simple things we can all do to help us re-centre ourselves.

It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to say we all can do with some help with staying afloat in these unprecedented times – and there is plenty of help on offer.

 

There are thousands of mental health and wellbeing apps out there, to start with, as well as innumerable articles offering valuable advice. It is acting on advice in times of need, and regularly, that often tends to be hard, however – as reflected in the world’s grim mental health statistics. Could there be a simpler approach that is both easy to relate to, and which can get us moving again when we are stuck? An approach that might help us cope personally, while helping us support those who rely on us – our families, our colleagues, our communities – now and in the post-COVID world?

With the hope that it offers some new and practical value, I am sharing the following framework. It is simple yet comprehensive; a mental map to reorient you when you’re feeling lost, or something to add to your routine to make life more productive. Its regular practice over the years has gotten me through some really challenging times – personally and professionally. It might resonate with you too.

Here are four practical actions you can take to restart or refocus yourself:

The 4 Bs - a visual guide
The 4 Bs – a visual guide
Image: Amit Mehra

1. Be grateful: You have probably heard this a zillion times – but one can always find something worthwhile to be grateful for, whether that’s our health, relationships, resources, support or faith. At the very least, one can be grateful for the positive experiences of the past and the possibilities ahead, however bleak they may seem in moments of distress. Writing down what you are grateful for will begin to energize you. However, practicing gratitude is clearly not enough in itself. Sometimes things are so awful, one may find it hard to feel grateful. During such moments, look to the other three actions.

2. Be mindful: This is not just the ‘being present in the moment’ kind of mindfulness; rather it means being a little more conscious, a little more aware of some of the fundamentals in life. Such as – who you are, where you want to go (or are going), why you want to go there, how you will get there, and how you will thrive once you reach your destination. Articulating even a sentence or two on each is helpful. It helps to sharpen your focus, even if you keep fine-tuning the answers as life progresses. As we are living in a fast-changing world, now is as good a time as any to start reflecting on, and ideally writing down, your answers to these questions. Often, the difference between experience and wisdom is a quiet moment of self-reflection.

3. Be useful: Worthwhile things seldom happen without commensurate effort. So get up, get ready and get out there. Sometimes, however, this is not possible. During such times, try reaching out to others. Connect. Listen or talk to others. Help. Support. Workout. Clean up. Meditate – perhaps using one of the numerous apps out there. Learn something new or brush up on something you already know. Even the act of seeking help is a way of being useful – to your own self. Especially when you are stuck or lost, reflecting on this can get you moving again. Perhaps you will start reviewing your personal vision and re-writing your priorities. You might add new dimensions of personal growth such as fitness, charity, impact, relationships, friendships, learning, or accumulating new and diverse experiences. There are indeed plentiful ways to be useful – to yourself and to others.

4. (Just) be: At times, this can be the most helpful ‘action’ when we are feeling just plain exhausted or are facing life-changing moments and circumstances, such as the bereavements many have suffered during this crisis. Sometimes you must just ‘be’. Give yourself the moment to accept certain outcomes that are beyond your control. Be empathetic with yourself. Not just let it be, also let yourself be. Have faith. Believe. Give yourself the permission to take some downtime, ideally every day. Pause, unwind and revitalise. And then move on to the other ‘Bs’ – perhaps starting by being useful again, in whatever little way you can.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about mental health?

One in four people will experience mental illness in their lives, costing the global economy an estimated $6 trillion by 2030.

Mental ill-health is the leading cause of disability and poor life outcomes in young people aged 10–24 years, contributing up to 45% of the overall burden of disease in this age-group. Yet globally, young people have the worst access to youth mental health care within the lifespan and across all the stages of illness (particularly during the early stages).

In response, the Forum has launched a global dialogue series to discuss the ideas, tools and architecture in which public and private stakeholders can build an ecosystem for health promotion and disease management on mental health.

One of the current key priorities is to support global efforts toward mental health outcomes – promoting key recommendations toward achieving the global targets on mental health, such as the WHO Knowledge-Action-Portal and the Countdown Global Mental Health

Read more about the work of our Platform for Shaping the Future of Health and Healthcare, and contact us to get involved.

Reflections

No framework is perfect – and the simplicity of this one might seem to be one obvious flaw. But in the post-COVID times ahead, as we try navigating a new world, we will struggle – some more than the others. These simplified ‘4 Bs’ can be an additional practical tool with easy recall to help you keep moving. And to build your own applications and practices on top of it. It distils many moments of reflection over the years, has worked for me over time, and helped me restart and refocus when I have felt stuck. Hope it helps you too – now and in the times to come. Be safe and be well.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Building climate resilience and peace, go hand in hand for Africa’s Sahel – UN forum

Myanmar military committed ‘routine, systematic’ sexual violence against ethnic minorities, UN experts find

London is becoming the world’s first National Park City

These are the places with the most climate change deniers

Amending Guatemala ‘reconciliation law’ would lead to unjust amnesty, warns Bachelet

What next for Europe? Three (completely) different Davos views

Afghanistan: UN mission welcomes new polling dates following election delays

Can privatisation be the panacea for the lack of growth in Europe?

Office workers in these economies clock up the most extra hours

A Sting Exclusive: “Asia-Pacific response to COVID-19 and climate emergency must build a resilient and sustainable future”, by the United Nations Under-Secretary-General

‘Being open about my mental health created a better work culture’

Actions not words: what was promised at the UN’s landmark climate summit?

Localized microfactories – the new face of globalized manufacturing

Chart of the day: These countries have the largest carbon footprints

Mexico: Helping refugees go into business, a ‘win-win situation’, says UNHCR’s Grandi

Commission’s feeble response to financial benchmarks fraud

Migration: Better travel safe than sorry

Universal Health Coverage will ‘drive progress’ on 2030 Development Agenda

European Council: Choosing new leaders for the EU betrays efforts for a wider arrangement

The 28 EU leaders don’t touch the thorny issues

How the United States is falling in love with secondhand clothes

Wednesday’s Daily Brief: Libya ‘war crime’ attack, Sudan, Myanmar rights violations continue, ‘xenophobia’ in Assam, South Sudan update

Steps taken to end Saudi ‘guardianship’ system for women, ‘encouraging’ start

25 years on from landmark conference, millions of women and girls still in danger: UN deputy chief

Partner countries get €3bn in loans to prop up economies affected by pandemic

Ukraine’s Poroshenko implicates NATO in his duel with Putin

This is the life of a refugee: the constant destruction and construction of dreams every day

Global leaders and companies pledge to reduce the gender pay gap by 2030

EU to present a “hefty” exit bill to the UK moments before Brexit negotiations

Prisoner executions in Belarus ‘simply unacceptable’, says UN rights body

Four in five adolescents failing to exercise for even 60 minutes a day, UN health agency warns

Central African Republic militia leader and football executive, transferred to ICC

Deeper reforms in Korea will ensure more inclusive and sustainable growth

The vehicles of our future

Coronavirus update: Countries urged to fight ‘controllable’ pandemic

Philippe de Backer of ALDE at European Business Summit 2015 stresses: “Reinvent your business”

The Red Cross’s health chief explains how business must respond to coronavirus

What is the Coral Triangle?

The Challenger Within – Mental Health In Romania During Lockdown

Refugee crisis update: EU seeks now close cooperation with Africa while Schulz is shocked to witness live one single wreck full of immigrants

We must prevent a post-COVID ‘carmageddon’. Here’s how

Millions of Bangladeshi children at risk from climate crisis, warns UNICEF

Bahamas: ‘Clock is ticking’ to help those who lost everything in Hurricane Dorian, says UN

UN chief welcomes prisoner exchange between the Russia and Ukraine

World is closer than ever to seeing polio disappear for good

Major UN aid operation for 650,000 gets underway across Syria-Jordan border

Theresa May expresses her optimism about Britain’s economic success while UK business outlook seems ominous

Draghi: Germany has to spend if Eurozone is to exit recession

Theresa May’s global Britain against Philip Hammond’s Brexit fog

Can we balance conservation and development? Science says yes

Commission challenges Council over EU 2014 budget

Why we need to rethink geo-economics to beat climate change

Hospitals among seven health centres attacked in Syria’s north-east

ITU Telecom World 2017: exploring smart digital transformation

Guterres underlines climate action urgency, as UN weather agency confirms record global warming

Human Rights Council election: 5 things you need to know about it

EU to fail 2050 Green targets due to lack of European citizens’ engagement

G20 LIVE: “Re-envisioning the economy to enable women to reach their full potential” live from Antalya Turkey

India’s Largest Entrepreneurship Event is Back! (23-24th August 2016)

The Japanese have a word to help them be less wasteful – ‘mottainai’

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s