I am sure you are all sick of hearing about it, but it appears that COVID-19 won’t be going away any time soon. The government’s recent announcements have called for the implementation of further “social distancing” measures and asked for all non-essential travel to be avoided.
Whilst a period of isolation has some benefits for public health overall, we cannot ignore the detrimental impact on people’s mental health. Here are some things you can do to safeguard your emotional and mental wellbeing during a period of being alone:
- Make time for micro-lifts throughout the day. It is often the little things that lift us, sometimes without us even realising. When in isolation or when working from home, you don’t get these little lifts as often and the cumulative effect of this can be huge. So, try creating your own micro-lifts. That could be trying a new form of exercise, learning a language, talking to someone on FaceTime or joining an online group.
- Keep a healthy diet. We all know what it’s like – you’re sitting on the sofa, the fridge is just a short walk away, snacking becomes part of your routine. Do your best to eat well, the positive impact on your mental health will surprise you.
- Engage with nature. Try to get as much exposure to the outside world as possible within the limits that have been imposed. Make the most of any private outdoor space that you have; getting out in the garden will improve your overall wellbeing as it helps you engage with nature. If you can’t do that, try looking out of the window at the birds or tend to houseplants to keep your mind stimulated and engaged with nature. If you can, also open the window and let fresh air into your room.
- Maintain a sense of routine. This includes waking up and going to bed at healthy times to ensure you are getting enough sleep. But also, put aside some regular time to add value to your day – do something fun for yourself. Some suggestions from Anxiety UK include: download some podcasts you’ve been meaning to listen to, watch that boxset on Netflix, try some meditation, baking, writing, reading, knitting and other crafts.
- Be cautious of your screen-time. Don’t just sit in front of a screen; we all know that the blue light from our devices can be disruptive to our sleep and overall wellbeing.
- Stay connected to people. Take some time to call a friend or family member, talk about how you are feeling. If you don’t have anyone to speak to, call emotional support lines like the Samaritans. It is equally as important to be supportive to others. Assisting others in their time of need can benefit the person receiving support as well as the helper. Check in by phone on neighbours or people in your community who may need some extra assistance.
- Limit your news intake. The constant coverage of coronavirus is enough to worry anyone. Minimise watching, reading or listening to news that causes you to feel anxious or distressed; seek information only from trusted sources and mainly to take practical steps to prepare your plans and protect yourself and loved ones.
- Breathe. Sometimes the simplest things are the most effective; deep breathing floods our system with happy hormones, tricking our brains into making us feel more relaxed.