For now, the coronavirus pandemic has upturned life as we know it, and it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by the rolling news coverage; Covid-19 is dominating conversation on every level.
However, the good news is that there are tried-and-tested techniques that can help you to stay mentally strong during these difficult times. Here, we offer tips for ensuring your mental health is well looked after in the coming months:
EAT WELL AND STAY HYDRATED: Ensure you have regular, healthy meals to keep energy levels stable. If you’re well and self-isolating, take the time to prepare good food for yourself. Batch cooking and freezing meals will help to reassure you that you have quick access to wholesome food at a later date should you need it. Drink plenty of water.
TAKE GENTLE EXERCISE: Physical activity can relieve depression and anxiety and while it’s harder to take exercise if you’re self-isolating, some simple yoga stretches or jogging on the spot is possible. There are lots of online exercise videos on YouTube, and the arrival of coronavirus has seen people getting creative with how to exercise at a social distance. For example, Lu Jong London (@deniahdr on Twitter), a yoga-based initiative, is currently offering free 15-minute online classes daily at 10am.
SLEEP: Good sleep promotes a healthy immune system and helps us to stay calm and think more clearly. Switch off electronic devices an hour before bedtime and avoid staying up late. Eight hours’ sleep can prove a tonic to mental health.
GET FRESH AIR: Structuring your day can help and if you employ social distancing, it’s still possible to go out and spend some time in the fresh air. Go for a walk, a cycle ride or if you’re lucky enough to have a garden, spend time in it, it’s the season for preparation, after all!
SEEK HELP: All of the major mental health charities have great online resources. While GPs are overstretched, they are still dealing with other patients, so call them if you need to.
DON’T DRINK TOO MUCH ALCOHOL: While a glass of red wine might take the edge off the current situation, drinking too much can heighten anxiety and low mood.
MAKE NEW CONNECTIONS: Social media has its bad points but it’s also a great way of connecting with others without physical contact. There are lots of fun, creative projects being launched to help people build social circles during self-isolation. Television choirmaster Gareth Malone, for example, has started an online choir and orchestra. Find out more on his Twitter page.
DO SOMETHING KIND: Paying it forward is a brilliant mood enhancer; if you can safely help an elderly neighbour with their shopping – while ensuring you stay at a safe social distance, then everyone wins.
BE MINDFUL: Taking time to live in the moment can help lift spirits. Practise breathing exercises or try an activity that distracts in the best way; gardening, art, cooking can all help.
And here’s some other tips from mental health specialists on social media: