Just the mere thought of another lockdown is enough to kick-start your anxiety. Combine that with the month of January – including Blue Monday, supposedly the most “depressing day of the year” – and it’s safe to say we could all do with a little pick me up. So, what can you do to actively improve your mental health? To help you take care of yourself during these strange and testing times, we’ve teamed up with men’s mental health activist and leading barber Ken Hermes to share five top tips to improve you mental health during lockdown.
Ken Hermes is so much more than a barber. He’s a father, a husband and (when he’s not smashing out stylish cuts for his punters) he’s the proud founder of the Hermes Project. “I sadly lost my Dad to suicide when I was just 15,” said Ken. “I then experienced first hand the lack of specific support available.”
“Now, I’ve set up the Hermes Project to mentor and support children that are bereaved by suicide, and show them that they are not alone. I also run pop-up barbershops in universities all over the country, providing an empathetic ear to those that need it.”
Through his experiences, Ken has supported not just children, but hundreds of men and women in need. Pulling on all of these encounters, he shares his five top tips to improve your mental health during lockdown below.
Commit to regular exercise
“It’s no secret that there is a clear link between mental and physical health. Plus, exercise seems to be one of the only reasons that we can leave our homes right now!
“You don’t have to be an Olympian to exercise; in fact, just a walk in the park can improve your mental wellness and mood, giving you time and space to think. Personally, if you see me running, you need to run too, because I’m running away from danger! But I do love a walk through the park, or a forest. As a family, we partake in an activity called Geocaching, which combines a scavenger hunt with a long country walk; it’s perfect to exercise my dog and entertain my kids!”
Keep talking to people
“It’s extremely important that while we all must ‘isolate’ right now, we do not completely cut ties with our friends and family. Communication is an extremely powerful tool and can literally save lives. Whether your circle is small, or you have a big squad, talk to them. You can chat about your job, about how Boris has or hasn’t made the right decisions or (most importantly) how you are feeling and coping during lockdown. And this doesn’t have to be in person. Text your friends, video call your family, go super old-school and send a letter! The fact is: talking saves lives.”
Take some time out for self-care
“With the entire personal care sector closed, it’s very easy to fall in to a slump and feel down about yourself. Luckily, self-care is about much more than trimming your beard or styling your hair (although that can make you feel good too). That’s why it’s important to find a little time each day to enjoy the little things in life, like reading a book, meditating, or additional exercise.”
Try something new to fill your days
“Personally, I’ve joined a squad in Warzone, and enjoyed playing Fortnite with my two boys. I know people that have got in to Yoga, Crafting, Cooking and Photography! Whatever it is, enjoy the time you have to research a new passion. What is something you have always wanted to do, but never had the time? Look at online courses and get cracking!”
Don’t doom scroll!
“We all know that too much social media is bad for our health. And if we aren’t reading more bad news from the mainstream media, we are often scrolling on our local gossip pages on Facebook, reading threads of angry comments. This is not good for your health, nor is comparing your lockdown life to your favourite celebrity, or even those around you for that matter. Reduce your scroll time on these platforms and use that time to go through steps one to four again!”
Don’t suffer in silence
Perhaps our top tips to improve your mental health simply aren’t enough? There’s no shame in that. If you require further support, please seek help from any of the following today:
Samaritans:Support is available 24/7 from the Samaritans’ website, including a new campaign called Our Frontline, which aims to provide “round-the-clock one-to-one support services for health, care, emergency and key workers”.
CALM:The Campaign Against Living Miserably run a helpline 365 days a year. You can call or speak to a friendly representative via a web chat.
Mind:Mind exist to “empower people to understand their condition and the choices available to them” at every turn. They provide support in a number of ways, including a dedicated telephone line, as well as via their award-winning publications and website.