Wellbeing and mental health

The coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak means that life is changing for all of us for a while. Faced with the sudden uncertainty of what will happen next and the relentless news about the pandemic, can take its toll on your mental health; particularly for those of you already living with conditions like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), anxiety or depression.

 

You may be feeling anxious, stressed, worried, sad, bored, lonely or frustrated at the moment. It’s important to remember that it is okay to feel this way – and not to compare yourself to others, as everyone reacts to situations differently.

So how can we all protect our mental health in this unprecedented time? Here are a few tips from our team.

Limit the news and be careful what you read

Limit the amount of time you spend reading or watching things which aren’t making you feel better. Perhaps decide on a specific time to check in with the news. There is a lot of misinformation swirling around, so stay informed by sticking to trusted sources of information such as government and NHS websites. Think about how possibly inaccurate information could affect others too, and try not to share information without fact-checking against credible sources. You can mute WhatsApp groups and hide Facebook posts and feeds if you find them too overwhelming.

Try to relax

Focusing on the present can help improve your mental health and lighten negative feelings. You might want to try breathing exercises, yoga or meditation. A quick check online may reveal that your local gym or health centre are providing free online classes that you can attend. A range of relaxation techniques, including progressive muscle relaxation, which teaches you to recognise when you are starting to get tense and how to relax, are available from the NHS.

Stay connected with people

Maintaining healthy relationships with people we trust is important for our mental wellbeing, so think about how you can stay in touch with friends and family while needing to stay at home. You could try phone calls, video calls or social media instead of meeting. Strike a balance between having a routine and making sure each day has some variety. For some people it might end up actually feeling like quite a productive or restful period. You could work through your to-do list or read a book you’d been meaning to get to.

Avoid burnout

It is important to have down time, it is recommended to continue to access nature and sunlight wherever possible. Exercise, eat well and stay hydrated. Good-quality sleep makes a big difference to how we feel mentally and physically, so it is important to get enough. Try to maintain regular sleeping patterns and keep up good sleep hygiene practices – like avoiding screens before bed, cutting back on caffeine and creating a restful environment.

Keep active

Keeping active reduces stress, increases your energy levels and can make you more alert and also help us sleep better.

Explore different ways of adding physical movement and activity to your day and find some that work best for you.

Even at home, there will be lots of ways to exercise and keep your body moving.

Visit the NHS Every Mind Matters page for some ideas to get you started

For practical advice on how to look after your wellbeing during lockdown, check out Mind’s website www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus/

For relaxation techniques https://www.cntw.nhs.uk/resource-library/relaxation-techniques/