Our fourth blog in our new series, ‘Dear Friend…’ where volunteer and blogger Kara will be answering some of the mental health and wellbeing questions we have during this challenging time.
‘I am constantly bored, unmotivated and lacking energy. I can feel my low mood getting worse and have negative thoughts. Do you have any tips to deal with lack of motivation and help to improve my mood?’
Hi there friend, well done on reaching out to make a change to your mental wellbeing. I can hear your concern and unhappiness regarding both your low mood and the negative thoughts. Although there isn’t a specific treatment for boredom, here at Second Step, we have identified ways to keep boredom in check.
First of all: boredom, low mood and a lack of energy are understandable consequences of lockdown. Have a little ponder on what we know causes boredom and lack of motivation:
- Insufficient rest/nutrition
- Lack of control or choice over your daily activities
- Lack of variety of recreational interests
- Low levels of mental stimulation.
Does it look familiar? How many of these aspects are present in your lockdown situation?
The good news is we do have an element of control even in the present circumstances, therefore exploring the wellbeing aspects that could be making a difference to your mood starts with the basics:. food, activities and sleep.
So does your diet support mental wellbeing? If not, a small positive change could make a big difference. Keeping our food groups in balance and perhaps adding some mood-busting foods (brazil nuts, oily fish, oats, bananas, chicken and turkey or lentils , dark chocolate, cereal and water), could greatly improve brain chemistry which gives you a good start on those happy hormones. To explore the effect food has on our mood, plus lots of information on eating for mind and body, compiled by Second Step, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JUG3fXOZLU. We also have a fun yet easy recipe to follow, featuring Sophie, from our North Somerset Wellbeing Service https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwfm-HzyXB4, We mustn’t underestimate a small treat or a friendly face for that matter when we’re feeling low.
Do you sleep well? Avoiding naps, cutting caffeine, and eliminating screen time before bed can create a bedtime routine that may help to get you off to sleep. I personally swear by binaural beats. If I can’t sleep, these change the frequencies of your brain waves to promote relaxation (not recommended for people with epilepsy). Of course, it isn’t easy to maintain a sleep pattern that’s conducive to mental wellbeing when under stress, so learning to live and maybe even reducing stress is key to mood improvement.
Our Sophie S, has created this YouTube video to explore one of the common factors of our stress at this point; uncertainty, which seems to prevail at the moment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfiuuwfWiLY&t=146s.
Ah now… it’s time for the fun aspects of mood boosting. Variety is important so if you’ve exhausted Netflix and social media, it’s definitely time for something new! Have a karaoke night with friends remotely, download Air Console to turn your phone into a microphone, or visit a museum with your children, virtually. https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2020/mar/23/10-of-the-worlds-best-virtual-museum-and-art-gallery-tours.
Second Step also has therapeutic art and writing classes, no talent required as our group facilitators show you how to develop your skills in a fun and interactive way. The writing classes use emotion in a positive way, wake up your senses and explore your feelings.
Therapeutic writing – https://youtu.be/DsQepqi3998
Therapeutic Art Class – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grM2MEnVIDY&t=14sL
Lastly it could be a case of needing connection or mental stimulation. There is far too much to fit into this short piece, but do have a google and see what appeals to you. Great ideas I’ve seen myself include starting a blog, solving a mystery (Reddit’s Unresolved Mysteries), getting a pen pal (PenPal World), volunteering, learning First Aid for free (FutureLearn), and scaring yourself silly in a creepy library! (Ritman Library has free access to pre-1900 books on alchemy, astrology and magic).
If you’re still finding negative thoughts are cropping up, have a look at these short exercises devised to help with reframing thoughts. https://www.happify.com/hd/stop-dwelling-on-negative-thoughts/
I will work on a future blog to look into this in more detail, but Second Step have developed a variety of online resources and activities throughout this lockdown experience. Our mood boosting sessions are live and are available in addition to YouTube presentations. To book a place at one of our future mood boosting, wellbeing or writing for wellbeing sessions see here https://www.second-step.co.uk/wellbeing-college/booking-form/.
To book a session, you must be receiving support from Bristol Mental Health services or North Somerset Mental Health services, or be a carer of someone who receives support.