Taking care of your mental health during lockdown

Taking care of your mental health during lockdown

Being concerned about the news is understandable, but for many people this is taking its toll on people's mental health, particularly those already living with conditions like anxiety and OCD. 

People across the UK are now staying at home for long periods without the contact with friends, family and colleagues which would normally be part of everyday life. Some people may find the change easy to adapt to, but for others this will be a very difficult adjustment to make. It can make existing mental health problems worse.

Many are beginning to realise that this unique moment requires a focus on mental health as well as physical. 

 

So how can we ensure our mental health is protected during the Covid-19 lockdown? Here are some tips for minding your mental health during the lockdown .

1. Get dressed and set up a routine

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Creating a routine will help bring a sense of purpose to your days. With nowhere to go or nobody to see, it may seem pointless to get dressed and showered, but you’ll feel untidy and dirty by the end of the day. So, by just starting with simply getting dressed will help make you feel fresh and more like yourself. Without doubt, this is the quickest, easiest thing you can do that reaps the most benefits.
Think of a few things you could do that would make you feel accomplished – like studying for an hour, cooking, gardening or doing a workout video – and a few things you want to do – like gaming, binging Netflix. Perhaps do work around the house that you haven’t got around to all these years due to a lack of time. Lists are super useful here and will help you to look back and see what you have achieved with your day.

2. Stay connected

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Advances in mobile technology in particular mean that we can stay connected through calls, text, WhatsApp, email, social media etc. Use this time to get in contact with people.
Try to connect with people who you haven't heard from in a while or people in your community who are likely to be isolated right now. The additional time at home can bring tension but it can also be an ideal opportunity to reconnect and strengthen relationships within the family.
Remember you can always mute WhatsApp groups and Facebook groups if you’re finding them too overwhelming. You can also mute keywords and unfollow accounts on most social media platforms., which will help limit unwanted content on newsfeeds.

3. Maintain a healthy lifestyle

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The negative impact of sleep disruption on mood is well-established. Without the structure of having to get to school, college or the workplace, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy sleep habits like going to bed later and getting up later. Changes to your sleep cycle now could go on to impact your mood in the weeks and months ahead.
Scheduling a balanced range of activities in your day including:
• Getting adequate and healthy sleep
• Daily routine of working and resting
• Eating nutritious food
• Exercising at home, there are lots of video on YouTube you can try out
• Practice meditation or try to relax when you can
• Do not be afraid to discuss your anxieties and fears with someone. It helps to ventilate and talk things out.

4. Working from home

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If you find yourself working from home for the first time, it means figuring out how to stay on task in a new environment that may not lend itself to productivity. But there are ways to deliver results and avoid going stir-crazy, from setting up a good workspace to the way you talk to your team.

  • Have a clear workspace is crucial for your state of mind, and not just in terms of being in a "working" mindset but also so you're able to turn off when the working day is over.
  • Washing and dressing appropriately is very important when working from home. It will not only improve your state of mind, it will psychologically prepare you to start work. Likewise, changing out of work clothes when you clock off for the day helps your brain to understand that the working day is over.
  • Remember to eat. With no access to a canteen or shops you most likely will have to make lunch. Try to plan ahead what you will make so that it is built into your schedule and it’s a healthy and nutritious meal.
  • Taking breaks regularly is very important to avoid being burnt out. Overworking will only result in less productivity and frustration. Being cooped up inside can lead to fatigue, therefore even walking around the garden or even watering plants around the house will help keep your mind active and focused.
  • Establishing boundaries is very important, especially if you're employed by a company, you'll probably have set hours of work, and it's important to stick to these when you're working from home. Be ready to start your day at the same time as you would normally arrive in your office or workplace, and finish your day at the same time. Setting a “to do list” will help you stay on track, organised and create order. Sharing this with your employer is also helpful so they are aware of your work.

5. Maintain hygiene

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Whilst it is important to maintain hygiene, do not be preoccupied with it all the time. Be mindful of washing hands, and not touching metal surfaces, do not cough or sneeze without tissue paper.

6. Limit social media usage

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Whilst it’s important to stay digitally active, it is also important to carefully choose your news and media sources, particularly if some of the information you are receiving is leaving you feeling overwhelmed. Remember that some of the information online is driven by the views, opinions and agendas of individuals, and it may not be helpful for you to take those on as your own right now.
Choosing one or two well-informed sources and limiting yourself to set times during the day to check for ups for example at 9am and 5pm.
Try and share the positive stories you see: of people who have recovered or even a post on social media that made you laugh.

7. Understand the risk

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Stay up to date on COVID-19 but only trust the information that comes from authentic sources.
From the government: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
From the NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
Try not to be glued to the news 24/7
Do not believe every message or tweet circulated in social media

8. Be prepared

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Make a list of helpful contact numbers and emails – such as for healthcare and keep enough supply of non-prescription medicines to last at least a month. Talk to family and friends nearby about how you can support each other, in case one household is quarantined. For example, dropping supplies outside the front gate. Use self-help tools. There is a list of clinically approved apps that have been put together by ORCHA – who’ve been set up to help regulate the safety and value of these apps and make sure people find the right app for the right reason. They have recommended Wysa to cope with stress or anxiety issues. Wysa has released free tool packs for everyone to cope with the stress of isolation and current health anxiety. They want to ensure that everyone has mental health resources during this crisis.

 

At this time, it is important that everyone gets the help they need – and this includes looking after yourself.

Please continue to follow NHS guidance, stay at home, protect the NHS, and save lives.