As the number of coronavirus cases increases and the number of countries going into lockdown, it’s easy to panic for your health and the health of your loved ones. Panic buying and the constant news updates can also add to your anxiety, especially if you are already suffering from mental health problems.
Self-isolation for the next three weeks can cause anxiety, loneliness and feelings of depression can easily creep in.
A growing number of individuals are experiencing extreme anxiety due to several reasons such as the virus being so unknown, and the way the virus is being portrayed in the media leaving individuals to feel more under threat.
We have put together 8 steps that you can take to look after your mental health during the coronavirus lockdown:
1. It’s important to express any feelings of anxiety
If you’re struggling with anxiety, it is important to acknowledge your feelings and know that it’s perfectly normal to feel this way.
Write your worries down and once you have written them down let them go by putting the piece of paper in the recycling bin, or putting your notebook away in a drawer. Allowing yourself to express worry and then letting the worries go is crucial to relieving any feelings of anxiety.
2. Manage the news sources you engage with
With constant news updates about the coronavirus, this can be incredibly overwhelming and distressing for some. For others, engaging with the news is helpful as they feel better informed.
To alleviate, any feelings of anxiety, consider which sources you get your information from. We also recommend limiting your social media use and engage with particular pages, people and groups. Twitter has a handy tool that enables you to mute certain keywords. Consider muting keywords that are triggering to you and your anxiety.
If you prefer to avoid news altogether, but still want to get important updates, ask your family and friends to keep you informed on important information. An alternative is to visit the government wesite and the NHS website.
3. Set limits for the times you wash your hands
Some mental health problems can cause difficult feelings and behaviours to do with washing and hygiene. Therefore, it can be difficult for those individuals to continuously hear advice about washing their hands and hygiene.
If you feel that this is something that you are suffering from, it is advised that you ask others not to remind you to wash your hands. It is also important to limit the number of times you wash your hands, while still maintaining safety, and try to avoid reading the same advice on this topic.
4. Look after your physical health
It is vital to take care of your physical health during this period of lockdown, as this will positively improve your mental health. Be sure to eat healthy meals regularly and keep your blood sugars stable to help stabilise your energy levels and mood.
It is also important to consume at least eight glasses of water. A useful tip is to put reminders on your phone to ensure that you are staying hydrated throughout the day.
We may be in a period of lockdown, but it is still important to stay active. Consider taking part in YouTube exercise regimes. Exercising for at least three hours a week can help you to fight the symptoms of mental illness.
5. Avoid feelings of loneliness
Staying inside for several weeks at a time can be incredibly lonely and can increase feelings of depression.
If you’re feeling lonely, we recommend having regular conversations with friends and family using WhatsApp Video Call, FaceTime or even Skype. You can agree to set up times to call so that you have something in your diary to look forward to.
If you are experiencing anxiety due to the constant Coronavirus updates, you can let your friends and family know beforehand that you would prefer not to talk about it, but instead discuss topics that are of interest to you both.
If you’re on your own, you can listen to your favourite podcasts or radio talk show that are exciting in tone, so that you feel involved.
6. Set a routine and stick to it.
During the period of isolation, it is easy to get stuck in a rut, so we recommend creating a routine that you are used to and stick to it as much as possible.
If the pace is different, create a new routine that incorporates different activities and be sure to set time aside for each activity.
This period of isolation can also be viewed as the perfect opportunity to find new hobbies and create a new routine if you were feeling unhappy with your current one.
7. Be sure to use this time productively
Following on from the previous step, this period of isolation is a perfect opportunity for you to develop a new skill, or even bring back an old skill that you perhaps didn’t have the time to develop.
Some great suggestions include learning a new instrument, a new language, improving on your cooking skills, doing a deep clean and tidy or finishing the DIY project that you didn’t have time to complete before.
8. Put your phone away and engage in some fun activities
Being on your phone constantly can become very overwhelming and can induce anxiety due to the constant updates about coronavirus. Therefore, we recommend putting your phone away from time to time and partake in activities that don’t involve being glued to a screen.
Some activies that you could get involved in could include:
- Reading a book/magazine
- Doing a puzzle
- Listening to a podcast/music
- Playing a musical instrument
- Learning a new language
- Completing free online courses.
If you are still feeling worried and want to understand more about coronavirus visit the NHS website, the Government website or the WHO website for up to date advice and information.
If you are really struggling to cope, please call Samaritans on 116 123