Mental health 11/05/2020
By Dr Phil Clarke
The extra time we may have during this period of lockdown can provide us with a lot of opportunities to explore our self-development. But there is a risk we can feel a little lost and even negative about what to do with our time.
One thing that can really help with this, and a good routine to get into for when we come out of lockdown, is to effectively plan our time each week and be able to reset at the end of each day to help us sleep.
Below are a range of activities that can help you develop your self-awareness skills.
One of the biggest skills that any individual can develop is self-awareness. However, in order to develop self-awareness we need to sit and reflect and learn from our thoughts, feelings, behaviours and experiences. There may be some reflection and analysis going on in our heads, but as we have so many thoughts we usually end up forgetting these and find ourselves in the same situations time and time again. So, journaling provides a great opportunity to develop our self-awareness as we write things down. Then we can start identifying tangible actions for us to work on. Have a go at the activity below.
The Weekly Review:
What worked well this week?
What do I need to improve upon?
What lessons did I learn this week?
How can I put these lessons into practice in the next seven days?
The Weekly Planner:
What needs to happen in the next seven days for me to feel that this week was successful and productive?
List the behaviours you need to achieve. Prioritise these. BE REALISTIC
In this activity, the focus is on the key things you need to accomplish each day. The first activity is the non-negotiable things that you must achieve each day. If you complete the task each day you get a point. The aim is to get as close to 28 points as possible throughout the week, by completing each of your four set tasks. These non-negotiables could be things such as reading a chapter of a book each day, watching a webinar or learning something online, drinking two litres of water or doing 30 minutes of exercise – it depends on your circumstances and what you want to achieve.
Non-Negotiables (NNGs): What are the four things you need to achieve?
Points Achieved Each Day:
Morning Activity 1: Priorities
Sometimes we create to-do lists, and these include things we want to do and things that need doing. We usually focus on completing the easy tasks that we WANT to do and neglect the bigger things that NEED doing. The aim of this activity is to focus on the things that NEED doing. Look back at the Weekly Plan
Morning Activity 2: Gratitude
For the second activity, I want you to focus on the positives each day. One extremely powerful emotional experience is gratitude. Research shows that feelings of gratitude or being grateful for things are linked to higher levels of happiness. Each morning write down three unique things that you are grateful for. The goal is to write three different things each day, so by the end of the week you have 21 different things. Here are some questions to potentially prime you for this task:
- What challenges did you face yesterday that you can be thankful for in some way? Was there any learning from it?
- What part of yesterday made you feel most fulfilled?
- Who or what have you connected with that made you laugh, smile or feel grateful? (This could be people, places, photos, animals, nature, memories).
If you struggle to come up with new things, ask yourself why you are grateful for things. For example, why were you grateful to have that conversation yesterday? The aim of this task is to take the time to appreciate the smaller things in our life that have a big impact on us when we take the time to consider them.
At the end of the day it is very easy to focus on the things we haven’t achieved, or couldn’t do, in the day. So, the goal is to focus on what you have done, rather than what you didn’t achieve. Focus on the tangible. This could be tied in with the first morning activity, the weekly planner, or just something random that happened that you did for the right reasons – for example taking a call from a friend who you hadn’t spoken to in a while.
Activity 1: Success Review
The aim of this activity is to focus on the three wins from the day and highlight the next step you will take to move this forward. So, if a win was you cooked a new dish from scratch today, your next step could be ‘next week – I am going to cook another new meal from scratch’. You can use this to inform your weekly planner or NNGs at the start of next week.
Activity 2: Perspective hunting
Every day can’t be a great day, but you will always find some greatness in each day. There are lots of positives we experience in the day that we often overlook, we just need to train ourselves to look for them. This could be something such as helping a neighbour by doing some shopping for them or having a positive exchange of emails. So, spend some time writing about a positive experience from the day. What was it? What did it make you feel? What were you thinking? How did the situation play out?
Dr Phil Clarke is the Sport Psychology Lead at the Derbyshire Institute of Sport and Lecturer in Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology at the University of Derby Online Learning. Through this website and our social media channels, he will be sharing his thoughts on a range of topics as we travel through the current crisis together.