Mental health and well-being play a big part in how happy we are in our everyday lives, especially during this difficult time. It includes factors such as an individual’s ability to develop their potential, work productively and creatively, and build strong and positive relationships with others.
It also involves areas of life such as feelings of satisfaction, optimism, self-esteem, having some control over one’s life, having a purpose in life, and a sense of belonging and support. During this coronavirus outbreak, resulting in many of us staying at home or in self-isolation, it’s important to consider how to connect with others during these difficult times.
Essential for our mental well-being is maintaining relationships with people we trust. Think about how you can stay in touch with friends and family via the telephone, video calls or social media instead of meeting in person – whether it’s people you normally see often or connecting with old friends.
Help those around you
Think about how you could help those around you – it could make a big difference to them and can make you feel better too. Could you message a friend or family member nearby? Are there community groups that you could join to support others locally? Remember, it’s important to do this in line with guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19) to keep yourself and everyone safe. And try to be accepting of other people’s concerns, worries or behaviours.
Connect with support groups
It is quite common to feel worried, scared or helpless about the current situation. Remember that this is a difficult time for everyone, and sharing how you are feeling and the things you are doing to cope with family and friends can help them too. If you don’t feel able to do that, there are people you can speak to via NHS recommended helplines, or you could find support groups online to connect with.
Physical health impact
Your physical health has a big impact on how you are feeling emotionally and mentally. At times like these, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour which in turn can make you feel worse. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water, and exercise inside where possible and outside once a day for up to one hour, by following the Government’s guidelines.
Keeping active at home
If you are able to go outside, consider walking or gardening (keeping the recommended two metres from others as outlined in the social distancing guidance). If you are staying at home, you can find free, easy ten-minute workouts from Public Health England or other exercise routines on YouTube and fitness apps. Sport England also has good tips for keeping active at home.
“The part can never be well unless the whole is well”
Sleep hygiene practices
Feeling anxious or worried can make it harder to get a good night’s sleep. Good-quality sleep makes a big difference to how you feel mentally and physically, so it’s important to get enough. Try to maintain regular sleeping patterns and keep good sleep hygiene practices – like avoiding screens before bed, cutting back on caffeine and creating a restful environment.
Things you can control
Many people find the news about coronavirus (COVID-19) concerning. However, some people may experience such intense anxiety that it becomes a problem. Try to focus on the things you can control, including where you get information from and actions to make yourself feel better prepared. It is okay to acknowledge some things that are outside of your control right now, but constant repetitive thoughts about the situation which lead you to feel anxious or overwhelmed are not helpful.
Reduce media time
The continuous output of 24-hour news and constant social media updates can make you more worried. If it is affecting you, try to limit the time you spend watching, reading or listening to media coverage of the outbreak. It may help to only check the news at set times or limiting to a couple of checks a day.
Positive new routines
Life is changing for us all for a while. Whether you are staying at home or social distancing, you are likely to see some disruption to your normal routine. Think about how you can adapt and create positive new routines – try to engage in useful activities or meaningful activities such as reading. You might find it helpful to write a plan for your day or your week.
“To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear”
Boost your mood
When you are anxious, lonely or low, you may do things that you usually enjoy less often, or not at all. Focusing on your favourite hobby, learning something new or simply taking time to relax indoors should give you some relief from anxious thoughts and feelings and can boost your mood.
Try something new
If you can’t do the things you normally enjoy because you are staying at home, try to think about how you could adapt them, or try something new. There are lots of free tutorials and courses online, and people are coming up with innovative online solutions like online quizzes and streamed live music concerts.
Control and purpose
Setting goals and achieving them gives a sense of control and purpose – think about things you want or need to do that you can still do at home. It could be watching a film, reading a book or learning something online. Play games, do crossword puzzles, sudokus, jigsaws or drawing and painting. Find something that works for you.
Relax and focus
Taking time to relax and focusing on the present can help with difficult emotions and worries about the future, and can also improve well-being. Relaxation techniques such as meditation can help some people to deal with feelings of anxiety.
“Fresh air impoverishes the doctor”
Get natural sunlight
If you can, once a day, get outside. Spending time in green spaces can benefit both your mental and physical well-being. If you can’t get outside, you can try to still get these positive effects by spending time with the windows open to let in fresh air and get some natural sunlight, or get out into the garden if you can. Remember that social distancing guidelines enable you to go outside to exercise once a day as long as you keep two metres apart from others who are not members of your household group.
Now go and enjoy!
Please see our full COVID-19 guide to looking after you, your family and business during the pandemic.