As the coronavirus outbreak spreads around the world, the impact of the pandemic is being felt by millions. All you need to do is head to your local supermarket and you can suddenly feel swept up by the panic and anxiety that seems to be spreading faster than the virus itself.
The impact on people’s mental health feels very strong. There is a lot of uncertainty, anxiety, panic, and changing information coming from all directions, and this can feel very unsettling.
Tips to prioritise your mental health:
1. Take steps to minimise the amount of sensationalised news that you consume
When monitoring the news for the latest advice, make sure you get this from credible sources such as the World Health Organisation and the NHS, rather than Instagram and Facebook.
Remind yourself that news tends to focus on the negative rather than the positive – for example, the number of people who are recovering from the virus, the positive stories of brilliant healthcare, the companies who are altering services to be able to continue to reach out to those in need, and so on. Always look for the helpers.
2. Set healthy boundaries
We are all aware of the physical boundaries that we need to maintain at the moment. However, it is important to set emotional boundaries as well. For example; “I don’t want to talk about coronavirus right now”, “I appreciate how informed you are, but I don’t want to receive links to articles and media coverage right now”, “I respect your opinion on the situation, but I am allowing myself to come to my own conclusion.”
It is important that you create for yourself the emotional and psychological space to be able to breathe, think, and process, rather than being bombarded with possibly contradicting information.
3. Stay connected through technology
If you are self-isolating, it is important not to completely isolate yourself. Stay connected to family, friends, and colleagues through technology. Connect over the phone, through video calls, and through social media.
Use technology to stay connected to friends and family for emotional support. Use these connections to process what is happening, how you are feeling, and how it is impacting you and others.
However, although it can be tempting to focus all conversations on coronavirus, how to stop the spread, how to find toilet roll when all of the shops seem to have empty aisles and so on, it is also important to take your focus away from that from time to time. Spread funny stories and happy stories, try to cheer others up and allow others to cheer you up.
4. Practice good self-care
Practice good self-care by getting your stresses and worries out of your system. You can do this by writing it all down in a journal, or maybe drawing or making something. Acknowledge your emotional reactions at the moment and accept them. Don’t judge yourself. Recognise what you can and cannot control, what can you do and what do you need to try to accept?
Practice mindfulness and meditation. You can use apps such as InsightTimer, Headspace and Calm, and to help to reduce feelings of anxiety and stress.
Try to keep healthy by eating a healthy range of foods and exercising. For example, there are many workouts that you can do at home, you could go for a run, or do a free workout video on YouTube. Keep active and look after yourself.
5. Stick to a good routine
If you are self-isolating or staying at home because your kids aren’t able to go to school, it is important to stick to a good routine. Set your alarm, set time (and a place) aside for work or schoolwork, stick to proper mealtimes, and stick to your normal bedtime.
Don’t stay up until the early hours, wake up in the afternoon, work from your bed, and live on snacks rather than proper meals. These are all things that are likely to disrupt your sleep, in turn, further increasing feelings of depression and anxiety.
Furthermore, if you are self-isolating, use the time productively. Maybe you have always wanted to start writing a book, learn a new language, just catch up on your reading, or spring clean your apartment. Try to find some positive activities to do while you are sequestered indoors.
6. Use your time at home productively
There are so many amazing resources that are being made freely available online. If you are at a loss for things to do while you are at home, why not try out some of the following;
- Learn about modern art from the Guggenheim museum
- Go on a virtual museum tour
- Try some calming and educational colouring
- View works of art from the comfort of your home
- Live stream the opera from your living room
- Enjoy the Social Distancing Festival; an array of online performances
- Browse NASA’s entire media collection
- Read some of New York Public Library’s 300,000 books, now available to download for free
- Explore the natural world around you. For those still able to leave the house, enjoy some of the National Trust’s parkland’s and gardens for free
- Keep children and teens occupied and engaged with suggestions from The Green Parent Big Lockdown Resource List and Indoor Explorer activities
7. Seek out professional help
If you are struggling with anxiety surrounding the coronavirus, or you were struggling with anxiety, stress, depression, or anything else prior to the coronavirus, there are still many professionals that are working and wanting to help. Here at The Awareness Centre, we are still offering face-to-face counselling sessions, but we are also offering sessions via video and over the phone. There is always some way of getting help, even when everything seems so up-in-the-air and uncertain.
If you’d like professional support for any anxieties or stresses, whether it relates to the coronavirus or not, then give our team a call. We have appointments available seven days a week. You can reach us by calling 020 8673 4545 or emailing [email protected].