In addition to physical hygiene (à la hand-washing), mental hygiene is equally essential in times of pandemic – and is a cornerstone of our mental health. Fortunately, it is up to us to do something that benefits our mind. A few practical tips and tools will help you get through your (working) day with greater positivity and calmness.
The months of lockdown – with the contact restrictions, working from home and home-schooling – have left their mark on many of us. According to a survey of 1,000 employees working from home, a quarter of respondents feel stressed and another 34% feel lonely. A good 40% of remote workers claimed to be tired and lethargic. Our experts at the Fürstenberg Institut are increasingly counselling people on topics such as psychological strain, exhaustion and stress. In many of these cases, corona plays a decisive role. The pandemic seems to have left us feeling powerless. “This feeling of impotence can assume an unhappy dynamic”, says Oliver Schieck, counsellor at the Fürstenberg Institut. “The good news is that it is in our own power to influence ourselves positively. And that is more important now than ever before.”
Oliver Schieck recommends a behavioural therapy tool for everyday use:
“These daily assessments will allow you to have a direct influence on your own mental health. And despite any sense of powerlessness you may feel due to the on-going pandemic, you will regain the ability to act for yourself, which is both liberating and empowering”, says Oliver Schieck. “The panacea here is self-reflection. Give yourself the
time to test and benefit from this simple tool.”
Another technique that the Fürstenberg counsellor suggests and can be easily integrated into daily life is this: keep a small diary of gratitude. He also recommends a little book for this and a pen that writes softly. “Give yourself a moment of gratitude in the evenings.” Write down the things you are grateful for – the small and the bigger things. “The effectiveness of this doesn’t matter if your gratitude refers to a pay rise, a coffee in the sunshine or a good chat with old friends”, adds Schieck. This gratitude ritual provides stability – in the same way that other rituals structure our daily lives.
For those who have no interest in such calm rituals, the expert recommends movement. “Movement is the best psychotherapist of all”, says Oliver Schieck. When we are in movement, happiness hormones are automatically released, while the stress hormones – adrenaline and cortisol – recede of their own accord. This doesn’t have to be a full workout or lengthy jogging session. A long, brisk walk can also achieve the same effect.
Consultant and expert,, Fürstenberg Institut