Coronavirus: How to Look After Your Mental Health
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has, at present, changed how we live our day-to-day lives. This has left many of us feeling bored, frustrated, lonely, anxious, stressed or sad. Maybe even all of the above.
It’s important to remember that this situation, albeit is very concerning, is only temporary. There will be an end to these challenging times. However, it is okay to feel all of those emotions. While they are a completely understandable and rational reaction, it is vital that we take care of our mental health and wellbeing during these unprecedented times. Here are our top 10 tips on how to look after yourselves during the coronavirus outbreak:
- Practice your self-care regularly
Taking some time out and doing things for yourself that make you feel happier is extremely important. Try putting some music on and having a stretch, having a long bath or shower or taking time out to do whatever you enjoy doing.
- Stay connected with people
It’s important that we follow the official guidance on staying at home and away from others to keep everyone safe. But do try to maintain healthy relationships with people you care about by calling and video conferencing as frequently as you can.
- Limit the time you spend watching/reading news
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the news at the moment and it’s good to keep up-to-date with the latest. However, too much of this can feed our worries and lead to overwhelming stress and anxiety. Try to keep news intake down to a minimum, and take time away completely if you are feeling overwhelmed. Also make sure you are reading the right sources that are credible such as gov.uk or NHS.
- Talk about how you’re feeling
It’s completely normal and rational to be concerned about all this, and many people are feeling this way. Remember: it’s okay not to be okay. Talking about your worries can help you feel better and there are brilliant helplines to try if you cannot speak to someone you know. Try calling the Samaritans (116 123) or text Shout at 85258. They are both free, 24/7, 365 days a year and they will not show up on your phone bill.
- Allow yourself time to adjust
Many of us are having to adjust the way we live and work. Some may be home-schooling their children, living alone with no face-to-face contact, working from home or been furloughed. This is a huge adjustment for us all and it is important to allow ourselves to adjust to the situation in our own time. Even for the following recommendations: take your time, and do things when you are ready.
- Eat healthily
Nutrition and mental health are two peas in a pod. It makes sense that your body does not function properly if it doesn’t have the right fuel doesn’t it? It is tempting to spend time snacking, baking and drinking at times like this but it will take a toll on our mood. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals and drink plenty of water.
Research has shown that exercise can be enough to treat mild to moderate depression and reduce stress and anxiety. We are allowed to leave the house do 1 form of exercise a day such as a walk, run or cycle. Or if that’s not your thing, try a home workout. There are now numerous YouTube workouts for all abilities and many gyms/fitness gurus are doing free online classes now!
- Lockdown, or opportunity?
To think of this as a ‘lockdown’ sounds very scary and restricting. Try changing your mindset to thinking of this as more of an opportunity and you may feel more positive and inspired. Use this time to be more productive, practice your hobbies or maybe learn something new.
- Catch them ZZZ’s
Sleep is not only imperative to our mental health, but it does play a role on our immunity as well. Try to maintain regular sleep patterns and practice good ‘sleep hygiene’.
- Avoid ‘fortune-telling’
A common, unhelpful thinking style that feeds our anxiety is ‘fortune telling’ or predicting the future. Jumping to conclusions is likely to cause a great deal of emotional distress and are, more often than not, unlikely outcomes. At this ever-changing time it is hard to know exactly what is going to happen, and while this is scary, thinking about the future and predicting what might happen is not going to help our mental health. Try to stop those unhelpful thoughts and stay present.
I hope this advice is useful for us all. For further advice and support, I would recommend reading the Every Mind Matters information on the nhs.uk website. Stay safe everyone.
Mindset Mental Health