Five tips for gaining mental clarity during uncertain times

Let’s be real. 2020 hasn’t gone exactly the way we planned.

In a time of so much uncertainty and angst, it can be hard to gather the motivation you need to complete daily life tasks.

For many of us, we’re spending more time behind a desk and less time outside doing the things we’d normally be doing as the weather warms up at this time of year. Our work commitments may have increased or at least changed this year, long-planned holidays with families and friends have had to be canned and the mid-semester study break doesn’t have the same ring to it when you can’t venture too far beyond your suburb.

All of these things can contribute to a lack of motivation and a feeling like we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. If you feel as though you’re in a slump at the moment, it is important to know that this is completely normal and okay.

How do I get out of this slump you might ask? Well, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to this, and what works for some people might not work for others.

Over the next few weeks, La Trobe Sport will be here to help provide you with some practical ideas and tips to implement within your lifestyle or daily routine. Today, our team has provided five ways you can gain mental clarity during uncertain times, with the aim of empowering and encouraging our La Trobe community members to focus on what you can control in your health and wellbeing.

1. Keeping physically active

Physical activity has countless positive impacts on our mental health and should be fun! Keeping active doesn’t mean you need to smash yourself with high intensity workouts; simply getting out in the sunshine for a walk in between your lectures or meetings can make all the difference. Little bursts of exercise (walking, dancing or some flexibility exercises) that accumulate over the course of the day is the same as going for one continuous bout.

When you notice you are finding it hard to concentrate or you need a rest from your desk, spend 10 – 30 minutes getting outside in the fresh air. If you need some inspiration, check out La Trobe Sport’s #ActivationInIsolation series for some ideas on mobility, short workouts or stretches you can do without any equipment required.

After something a bit more structured? You can always join our virtual health and fitness classes via the MindBody app! Search ‘La Trobe Sport’ and choose from your selection of home-based guided sessions. Be sure to email sport@latrobe.edu.au to receive your LTU Student / LTU Community discount.

2. Take control of your internal thoughts and what you put energy into

Take a pen and paper and draw yourself a circle. Inside the circle, jot down the things in your life that you can control and influence. Outside of the circle, note down the things you can’t control.

The circle represents your thoughts and what you choose to allow in your internal dialogue. By focusing on what we can control, we are letting go of negative thoughts that are outside of our control that contribute to negative self-talk, stressors and pressure.

By completing this simple activity, the aim is to start each day focusing on what can be controlled and letting go of things we have no control over. Focus your energy on thoughts that you find enjoyable, find humour in or makes you feel good on the inside.

3. Set a routine

Set a routine that you can implement and maintain within your lifestyle. Some ideas you can start with are:

  • Going to bed at a similar time each night
  • Reducing your screen time about an hour before you intend on falling asleep
  • Waking up at a similar time each day
  • Mapping out your day and scheduling in your physical activity
  • Trying different routines and changing your routine if you think it is not improving your mental clarity or wellbeing

The La Trobe Sport team are here to assist you if you are struggling to find a physical activity routine that works for you. We can assist you in greater detail to your individual needs and help you get on the right track!

4. Nourish your body with lots of nutritious food from all food groups

Springtime means lots of new in-season foods that can add lots of flavour to your meals! Try swapping your usual mid-morning snack with a fruit salad – strawberries, blueberries, apples, pears and any other fruit of your choice. Add in Greek yogurt, goji berries, crushed almonds and honey to complete a healthy mid-morning or afternoon snack.

Remember that the food we eat fuels our body and brain. We’ll have more ideas for yummy foods in the coming weeks!

5. Set daily, weekly or monthly goals

Your goals will be specific to you. You might be wanting to increase your activity levels – that doesn’t mean we go straight into a five day a week strength program. Progress takes time, so start by implementing a little bit of physical activity each day. If you’re starting at zero, this might be 3 x 10-minute walks around the block a day and then build up from there.

For some people, writing daily goals might not be the best way of going about it; rather you may choose to have a goal a week or a month that you’re working towards. We recommend longer term goals for those who may have a larger goal in mind and don’t want to measure each day individually. Consistency in larger goals and creating meaningful change in your habits will go much further to developing you, rather than dwelling on one missed day.

La Trobe University has a number of resources available for LTU students, staff and the wider community. The La Trobe Sport team are available to answer your queries, as well as facilitate workshops/seminars for student and staff cohorts to bring about positive reinforcement and a physical activity component during this time.

To find out more information, please contact sport@latrobe.edu.au

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