Mental Health Wellness Tips for Self-isolation
As we adapt to a new way of working and living, it is perfectly normal to feel anxious. Newground Together’s resident psychotherapist Patrick Doyle from Baxenden Clinic in Lancashire, gives his top tips to keep calm during the coronavirus crisis.
Manage your media exposure Reading and watching lots of news can increase anxiety and cause confusion. Limit the amount of time spent checking social media and check reliable sources and keep up to date with relevant advice such as www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Create your safe space Working from home can induce anxiety and stress as this is extremely new for most people and it can be difficult if families are also in the same environment. Create a space or room where you will not be disturbed. For those of you not working, try to apply the same principles to allow yourself to have a moment to reset yourself. Help children identify a place where they can retreat to when stressed. Use blankets, pillows, cushions and beanbags to create a cosy den.
Reach out and check-in Face to face interaction, albeit virtual, such as FaceTime, Skype, Zoom and WhatsApp can be more useful than phone calls, texting or emails alone to connect with other people and provide support. It is important to help each other by encouraging and reminding how good a job everyone is doing. We are all in this together.
Stick to a routine Maintaining a normal regime during coronavirus self-isolation can be important for your mental health. Create a daily timetable, that is varied and includes time for work as well as self-care. As tempting as it is to stay in your pyjamas all day, washing and getting dressed will not only improve your state of mind, it will psychologically prepare you for the day.
Keep fit and eat well Try and get out once a day for at least 30 minutes. If you are concerned of contact, try first thing in the morning, or later in the evening, and try less travelled paths. If you are high risk or living with those who are high risk, open the windows. It is amazing how much fresh air can do for spirits. If you don’t feel comfortable going outside, there are many YouTube videos that offer free movement classes. Joe Wicks hosts daily workouts on his YouTube channel with all profits from advertising going to the NHS. During stressful times, we can find ourselves over-indulging, forgetting to eat or turning to alcohol. Drink plenty of water, eat nutritious foods and challenge yourself to learn how to cook something new.
Be patient with yourself and your family and lower expectations Being cooped up and living on top of each other can bring out the worst in everyone. Try to not hold grudges and continue disagreements. There no precedent for this, and we are all doing the best we can in an impossible situation. Accept that trying to balance work deadlines and running a sterile household while home schooling children and keeping them entertained in confinement is difficult. We are all struggling with disruption in routine, none more than children, who rely on routine to make them feel safe. Expect increased anxiety, nightmares and meltdowns. Do not introduce major behavioural plans or consequences at this time, focus on emotional connection. As the internet has become an integral part of our lives, it is important you understand ways in which your children use the internet to keep them safe. The NSPCC have some useful guides that can help you and your children stay safe online https://www.nspcc.org.uk/
Notice the good in the world and help others There is a lot of scary, negative, and overwhelming information to take in regarding this pandemic. There are also lots of stories of people sacrificing, donating, and supporting one another in miraculous ways. It is important to balance the heavy information with the hopeful information. Find ways, big and small, to give back to others. Support restaurants, offer to grocery shop, check in with elderly neighbours. Helping others gives us a sense of purpose when things seem out of control.
Find something you can control In moments of big uncertainty, control your little corner of the world. Organise your bookshelf, spring clean your cupboards and wardrobes or complete those home improvement jobs you’ve been putting off. It helps to ground us when the bigger things are chaotic. Find something that will keep you busy, distracted, and engaged to take breaks from what is going on in the outside world. Now is the time to learn a language, how to play an instrument or knit.
Find lightness in each day There is a lot to be worried about, and with good reason. Counterbalance this with something funny each day whether that’s cat videos on YouTube or a funny film on Netflix.
Pace yourself and take a day at a time We don’t know what this will look like in one day, one week or one month from now. Focus on whatever bite-sized piece of a challenge that feels manageable. Find what feels doable for you and set a time stamp for how far ahead in the future you will let yourself worry.
Remind yourself that this is temporary and focus on the positives Take time to remind yourself that although this is very scary and difficult, it will pass. This whole crisis can seem sad and senseless but focus on the positives and how we can continue them after this is over – the increased community spirit, the reduction in pollution, getting around to all those household chores you’ve been putting off. It is important to remember that during these difficult times you are not alone. You can speak to your friends and family for support or get in touch with the Samaritans support phoneline: 116 123. If you are concerned about your mental health and you would like more information you can visit the NHS Every Mind Matters page here: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-covid-19-staying-at-home-tips/