Depending on whereabouts you are in the world right now and since the coronavirus outbreak, the pandemic will have affected you in different ways. Here in the UK, we are still in our third national lockdown, which means for some people not having seen family or friends for almost a year or to the extent to which they usually would. It also means for a lot of people adapting to working from home as well and adjusting to these changes.
A severe side effect of the coronavirus pandemic and its restrictions has been an increase in mental health problems throughout the population. We need to make sure during these times that we are looking after ourselves- both mind and body. These can be isolating and lonely times for many, and with this comes anxieties regarding finances, as well as the health of loved ones and ourselves.
As a lot of us are social distancing right now, or if you are stuck at home or away from family, there can be feelings of frustration and boredom, but we need to remember that it is OK to feel this way and that you are not alone in reacting this way to these momentous life changes.
There are some things that you can do to help stay on top of your mental health and wellbeing as well as coping with the effects of staying at home or being isolated from your normal support systems.
Do your best to stay in touch with your friends and family- this can be by phone or even video chat. Do your best to maintain your relationships, we live in a digital world now and although this is not the same as being in your loved ones’ physical presence, it does mean we can still make memories, have fun and communicate with those important to us, during this trying time.
Take care of your body
When we don’t take care of our body it can affect how we feel, and during these difficult times, it is easy to put our physical health to the wayside- which can make us feel even worse. Ensure that you are eating a healthy and well-balanced diet, exercising regularly and drinking enough water.
If you are staying at home, try indoor exercise classes, or even set up a workout session with a group of friends. Do what you can, when you can, even if this means just going for a 20-minute walk to get some fresh air. Exercise has been proven to also improve your sleep, so don't forget your body also needs rest- aim to get your 7-9 hours of good sleep a night.
Try to limit your news intake
Watching, reading or listening to the news constantly can worsen mental health struggles, as we are constantly seeing negative stories and statistics, even on social media. Try to set limits on your phone and with yourself on how much news or social media you want to be interacting with throughout your day. You could set a time each day to read or get your news and then check back in again until the following day.
Make sure you are doing what you enjoy
Sometimes when we are feeling low, we don’t have the effort or energy to do even the things we usually enjoy, so ensure that you are making an effort and spending time participating in your favourite hobbies. This can be reading, baking, painting, writing, etc.
If you don’t feel like you have a hobby, try out new things at home, look for free tutorials and learn something you have always wanted to do. You can also set up a meeting with your loved ones, and have a pub quiz or a virtual party. Try to make the effort to have fun even though it may be very different from what you are used to.
Vocalise your anxieties
With the current situation that we are all experiencing, it is no wonder that some of us may be feeling bouts of worry, fear or helplessness. Remember that is OK if you want to share your concerns, thoughts and feelings with people you are close with- it could also help them too, by having someone reach out to them and show them that they are not the only ones feeling anxious.
If you feel like you do not have anyone to speak to or have done and feel that it hasn’t helped, there are many different helplines available for you to try- it may also help to speak to someone who you do not know but is trained in assisting people in their time of need.