These are unprecedented times. The Covid-19 outbreak is a global problem affecting every continent on the planet: wreaking havoc across health services, stifling economies and significantly, since being introduced in the UK on March 23rd, plunging us into an often described ‘new way of living’ through lockdown.
The restrictions of the lockdown, the requests to stay at home for all but essential travel for supplies, food, medical appointments, exercise or work, are being described by most outlets as ‘draconian’ but however it’s viewed, it’s a reality we all have to cope with. The pressures raised by the lockdown, in terms of staying at home, self-isolation and social distancing will affect large numbers of people and moreover, their state of mental health.
Here are some top tips on how you can look after your own mental health during these unprecedented and difficult times
Keep a routine:
In the majority of cases, whether employed or not, you would have had a daily routine. You may have been quite strict with this or perhaps more loose and flexible. Regardless, due to lockdown, it’s most likely that the routine you once had has gone out of the window with many now working from home, home-schooling children or dealing with the worries of losing employment or being furloughed.
Keeping a routine however can help provide you with some purpose. You may be occupied during the day with work or home-schooling your children, however if you are not in either of these positions, why not make a list of things you could do or that need doing around the house – the type of things you’d generally put off doing, perhaps. You could aim to complete a few of these tasks each day – and reward yourself for getting them done.
Even maintaining activities such as showering in the morning and getting dressed can help keep the routine. It may also help you feel fresh and ready to complete the day ahead.
It’s good to talk:
The pressures of social distancing has undoubtedly left people feeling cut off, perhaps even isolated and most certainly missing our nearest and dearest. Due to the government guidance, you’re not allowed to visit friends or family but that doesn’t mean you’re not able to keep in touch with those closest to you.
If you don’t feel tech-savvy in using video-calling apps, a good, traditional telephone call can help. Us humans are social creatures and keeping in regular contact with others is part of our make-up. It can also help protect your own mental wellbeing and, if you speak to several others, don’t forget you’ll be playing a part in helping them maintain their mental health too!
This is a worrying time for all of us but make a somewhat special consideration too for our children. They have had the snap announcement of their schools being closed, removing their ability to socialise, be amongst their friends and of course, to learn. This has significantly impacted on Years 6 and 11, who would have been undertaking their exams this summer, the culmination of a school career’s worth of work and preparation. If you have children, don’t treat coronavirus as a taboo subject. Talk to your children about it, check their understanding, be factual – it doesn’t have to be treated as a ‘scary subject’ despite the situation it has caused.
Break a sweat:
You’ve probably heard it a million times before, but exercise really can help you feel better. The science behind it suggests that being physically active releases endorphins, a hormone that helps you feel happy and promotes positive wellbeing. So, if the weather keeps up to what’s being forecast this April, why not make the most of the sunshine and the daily exercise allowance by going for a run or jog, a (local) bike ride, even a walk – talking in some fresh air outside the home. If you’d rather stay at home however, why not try Yoga or one of the many free daily activities on TV or Youtube at the moment. Don’t forget, pushing the vac around and doing other house work is also being physically active so a spot of spring cleaning may never sound so appealing.
Manage how you follow the Covid-19 outbreak
There is a lot of information out there at the moment regarding the Covid-19 outbreak. Unfortunately, not all of it is factual or helpful. Some feel there is scare-mongering in the press, others believe that sources are trying to give rise to conspiracy about the virus’ origins and the role foreign powers have played in its global spread.
It’s true, Coronavirus may be all over the news but ask yourself the question – how closely do you need to follow it? Particularly in the press, it seems to be doom and gloom, lots of negatives and no end in sight to the lockdown. This constant drip feeding of negativity could affect anybody and leave you feeling at a loss, so how about a news detox? Focus on other things instead of the news and the seemingly constant negativity surrounding Covid-19.
Similarly, if you are intent on keeping up to date, it may be prudent to use reputable resources to gather more factual and accurate information rather than the latest gossip and media speculation on some TV, news and social media sources. Having more accurate information can help you take back control and not let the negative new stories get you down.
Government guidance has remained somewhat consistent since the announcement of lockdown. Only leave home for essentials: food and medicine, to attend medical appointments, for daily exercise or to work – but only if you can’t work from home. Doing so may help prevent the spread of Covid-19 and, hopefully, will see us out of lockdown sooner.
If you have the tell-tale symptoms, stay at home, self-isolate along with others in your household. Help prevent the spread of the disease by doing so. The government have advised that we wash our hands thoroughly, for at least 20 seconds at a time. Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, ideally using a tissue and dispose of it as soon as possible before washing your hands or using hand sanitiser before washing at the next available opportunity.
Finally, a big round of applause for all the UK’s key workers, from NHS doctors and nurses to supermarket workers, delivery drivers and more! Here’s hoping we can get back to some form of normality sooner rather than later but in the meantime, stay safe, follow official guidance and we’ll get through this together.