As we’re getting to grips with another national lockdown, we are only starting to realise the impact that the Coronavirus pandemic is having on the nation’s mental health. Mental health charities and public health bodies are ringing alarm bells about the extent to which the restrictions brought on by lockdowns have affected our mental wellbeing, relationships and overall health.
It’s more important than ever to find ways to look after our own mental health.
The reality is: we all react differently to what life throws at us, even in ‘normal’ times. Some of us are more resilient and can brush things off more easily, others can’t help but be worried and anxious about the present and future. Put simply, what works for one person, may not work for another.
Here are some tried and tested ways of looking after yourself – why not try them all and see what works for you?
Understand that this is an unparalleled situation
For generations we haven’t had to deal with a public health situation such as this one. There is no right or wrong way to react, so whatever you’re feeling is legitimate. There’s been much mention of the rollercoaster of emotions that most of us go through, so simply knowing that after the downs there will inadvertently come an up, can be a helpful realisation.
Control your newsfeed
News about the worldwide impact of Coronavirus is everywhere, and it’s easy to get sucked into a negative mindset as a result. Remember that you are in control about what media you consume, and who you follow on social media. Limit the time you spend catching up on the news and looking at social media, and unfollow accounts that make you worried. Whilst it’s good to have an understanding of what’s going on and do your own research to form an opinion, it’s important to balance this knowledge with making every day decisions that will impact on your daily life, and your mental health.
This one is not a new one and the benefits of exercise are widely known. If you struggle to get motivated to exercise, start with small steps: go for a walk around the block and slowly increase the distance you walk every day. If you like something more energetic, explore some running routes near your house. And if you prefer to stay at home there is now a wide range of home workout videos available online – from dancing, to HIIT workouts, to boxing and so much more. Whatever exercise you choose to do, it helps scheduling it into your week so you make time for it, the same way you would for an appointment.
Similar to the previous point, it is well documented that a healthy diet not only makes your body healthier, but also your mind! Small changes to your diet can add up to make a big difference over time.
We may not be able to see friends and family in person, but technology is proving very helpful in these times. Video calls are a great tool to stay in touch with people with many apps available for this purpose. Be open with how you’re feeling – sometimes just getting a worry off your chest, and knowing that other people feel the same way, can help lighten the weight on your shoulders.
Get out (within the government guidelines)
We’re spending more and more time at home, more than we ever have before, which can cause problems with other family members or simply by getting cabin fever. Therefore, getting out into nature is always a good idea – regardless of the weather. It might even give you a chance to get to know your local area a bit better, and will provide a much-needed change of scenery.
Understanding what coping mechanisms suit you as an individual will not only help you deal with life-changing events such as Coronavirus, but it will also set you up for whatever the future will throw at us.
If you are struggling, please know that help is available. Please speak to someone!
Here is a helpful list of mental health charities that are available to help.
Find a local NHS urgent mental health helpline here
Call the Samaritans on 116 123