Be Proactive about your Mental Health

13th May 2021

Posted In: In Your Opinion

As the COVID-19 restrictions lift and our ‘new normal’ becomes more clear, we need to pay attention to our mental health. Leading Irish psychologists with Perspectives Ireland are advising the Irish public to be proactive about their mental health as we head into the recovery phase of the pandemic.

With a combined 30 years of clinical experience under their belts, co-founders of Perspectives Ireland, Yvonne Barnes-Holmes (pictured right) and Ciara McEnteggart (pictured left) suggest using this transition period to reflect upon what really matters in order to navigate the upcoming changes in a way that works for you.

Dr Yvonne Barnes-Holmes said: “Everyone struggles to say no because it feels selfish. A key part of our clinical and corporate work involves training people to set simple workable boundaries. Setting boundaries is a personal choice that simply organises your life according to how important different things are to you. This is key to good mental health.”

Dr Ciara McEnteggart said: “It is very easy to slip back into old routines when we don’t stand back and reflect on what really matters to us. A lot of people are feeling very overwhelmed by the pressure of normal life resuming, so that is why it is so important to use this time as an opportunity to think about what really matters to us before we start the old routines again.”

Perspectives Ireland has the following advice for Irish people to be proactive about their mental health as the restrictions ease over the coming months:

•Stop before you start again.

As restrictions lift in the coming weeks and months, it is important to use this time to look around and reflect on the things that matter most to you. What did you learn about yourself during lockdown? Were there aspects of lockdown that you really liked? What did you miss most about normal life? Once normal life resumes, you’ll have less time to think about you or the things that matter, and you’ll inevitably get pulled back into the rat race.

•Set boundaries and say no.

The speed of normal life makes it hard to set boundaries that protect the things that really matter to you. Before lockdown, you probably had very few boundaries and devoted more time to other people than to yourself. During lockdown, you learned to do more things for you and realised how nice that feels. Before your diary starts to fill up again, set boundaries for me-time and practice saying no to things that no longer seem to matter to you.

•Only do what really matters.

Normal life comes with pressure. Some types of pressure are overwhelming if you don’t set boundaries. For example, when you see other people on Instagram living busy lives, you feel pressure to do the same or even to do more. But, does that really matter to you? Probably not. Even the time you spend comparing yourself could be time spent enjoying you and what matters to you. The message here is simple, only do what matters to you and don’t yield to pressure to be like anybody else.