Mental Health Awareness During Covid-19

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Coronavirus means some major (but temporary) lifestyle changes for all of us. It can be tough to stay upbeat, but there are things we can do to help ourselves and others get through the weeks ahead and be ready for the bounce back once life returns to normal. While it is important to stay informed, there are also many things we can do to support and manage our wellbeing and mental health during such times.

New governmental rules state that we should stay at home to minimise the risk of transmission, this means we can only leave our homes for food, health reasons or essential work. It is essential that we stay at least 2 metres away from other people and wash our hands more frequently.

Whilst we know these measures are essential and should be taken very seriously, we also know that for many of us this will be extremely difficult and isolating. Many of our regular social activities are no longer available to us, and it will mean a different rhythm of life as we know it.

For anyone struggling during this unprecedented time, we have some top tips for you to help keep positive and look after your mental health.

Mindfulness Techniques

In the digital world around us it can be difficult to let our minds go from negative thoughts and worries. Mindfulness is a great way to reduce stress and feel better. Mindfulness is simply about being mindful of what you're thinking and deciding where you choose to focus your attention. ... Mindfulness is about deciding to look on the bright side and deciding to be kind to yourself and others. To discover more about how you could relieve your anxiety and learn to control your mind from persistent negative thoughts, check out the following apps and advice below

Keep Active

Good physical health produces endorphins which make us feel good and can help reduce stress and anxiety levels. Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and help you concentrate, sleep and feel better. Experts say most people should do about 30 minutes' exercise at least five days a week. With isolation measures in process your usual routines such as going to the gym or meeting up with your friends for a fitness class will be on pause for now. However there are lots of other ways you can maintain a healthy fitness level and still feel connected. You can go for a solo run or cycle and compare routes with your friends. There are also lots of online videos, live streams and apps that offer exercise classes that you can get involved in from the comfort of your own home, such as yoga, pilates and HIIT classes.

• Strava - app to track your routes and compare with your friend

Couch to 5k - NHS scheme which includes a complete step by step plan

Yoga - Yoga with Adriene is a free site full videos to follow for all abilities

Online Fitness - For example 'own your goals Davina' is offering 30 days free trial for all classes

Get Enough Sleep

Good-quality sleep makes a big difference to how we feel, so it's important to get enough. Feelings of change and uncertainty to daily life can mean you have more difficulty sleeping. This is very common and there is a lot you can do to improve your sleep if this has affected you. Aim to go to bed and get up at the same time each day and keep to regular sleep hours. Try to get some natural sunlight where possible, this helps to regulate your body clock which should help you sleep better. Try to avoid watching the news, looking at updates on social media or using your phone at all before you go to bed. Instead, try reading a book or using a sleep app.

Staying connected

In times of uncertainty and stress, it's always comforting to be in good company and have a support network you can rely on. Try and keep in touch with friends, family and work colleagues wherever you can - video calls can really help you stay connected.

You could even help someone else who is struggling, by signing up to be an NHS volunteer.

• House party- Video chat app to stay connected with friends

Online check in and chat volunteering with NHS

Avoid Speculation

At the moment, there is extensive news coverage constantly updating us about the outbreak. Although it is good to stay informed on the latest updates and government guidelines, if you find the news is causing you stress and anxiety - it;s probably best that you limit your news intake and check up on the government website every so often instead.

Remember to also try and still do the things that you enjoy. If we are feeling worried, anxious, lonely or low, we may stop doing things we usually look forward to. Make an effort to focus on your favourite hobby if it is something you can still do at home. If not, picking something new to learn at home might help - there are lots of ideas online.