Around a third of the world’s population are currently on lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. From Italy to India, Britain to Barcelona and Beijing, many millions of us are trying to adapt to this new way of life.
For some, it’s a chance to spend more time with family members, complete odd jobs, or just binge-watch boxsets. But for many others, the lockdown can bring about feelings of loneliness, anxiety and stress.
We understand that the lack of control over the situation, and uncertainty of how long the lockdown may last can be daunting. So, we’ve come up with some suggestions for how to care for your mental health during this difficult time.
Being active is more important than ever now that many of us are confined to our homes, or are limited to how many times we can leave the house a day. If you’re allowed out, get out. Fresh air alongside a walk or run can be the best thing for our physical and mental health at this time.
When you exercise, the body releases chemicals called endorphins into the blood stream. These help to reduce your perception of pain and trigger positive feelings in the body. So, now is the time to get active and stay active.
You can find hundreds of home workouts on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. So, whether you’re looking for a home HIIT class to get you sweaty, a relaxing yoga session to keep you zen, or a full family workout such as PE with Joe Wicks, it’s there ready for you, so jump right in.
Switch Off from it All
There is an overwhelming amount of information out there to do with COVID-19. Of course, it is important to keep up to date with your Government’s guidelines, but spending hours each day reading news stories and upsetting facts and figures about the virus can have a negative impact on your mental wellbeing.
Try switching off from it all for long periods of the day. That means no refreshing of news feeds, no scrolling through #coronavirus on Twitter, and reducing the amount of time you spend talking about it with others. Trust me, your thoughts will thank you for it.
This may be a good chance to try mindfulness or meditation. Both can be a great way of removing reality and calming the mind. We would suggest trying the Headspace app for anyone searching for an escape.
Have Routine and a Change of Scene
If you’re now working from home, or are in self-isolation, ensuring that your day has some structure can be very beneficial. Try to make sure you’re going to sleep and setting your morning alarm for similar times – keeping a consistent sleep pattern throughout all this can bring a sense of normality.
Have planned breaks in your day for meals and exercise, working hours and down-time. Splitting up the day into chunks can stop it feeling like a long-old slog.
It’s also important to have a change of scene during the day. Try working from different rooms in the house for the morning and afternoon, and make sure your lunch break isn’t at your desk!
Try Something New
If you’re trying to have an optimistic outlook, now really is a great time to try something new. Whether that’s learning a new skill you wish you had, retraining your brain to be good at something, or trying something you’ve never had the time to before, lockdown could be your calling.
To help with this, we’re running a daily ‘Isolation Challenge’ on social media that will give you suggestions for something to try, learn and do. This could be anything from learning how to moonwalk, or clearing out your wardrobe of unwanted clothes for charity. There’s plenty of things to get your teeth into.
Phone a Friend
Sometimes it can be good to talk through how you’re really feeling. And you might be surprised to hear that many others are feeling the same way too. Phone a friend or family member you can open up to and talk things through. They might have some tips on how to keep positive, and reduce feelings of stress. If nothing else, staying connected could be just the support you need.
Lockdown does tend to mean that we have more time to spend checking in with others. If you’re not ready to talk about how you really feel, checking in with an old friend, organising a group video call or phoning a grandparent can be a perfect distraction and way to feel less alone.
There is no doubt that this is an unprecedented and uncertain time for all of us. But there are ways of staying positive, keeping connected and caring for your mental wellbeing – sometimes it just takes a moment to stop and think about how to do just that.
For more advice on how to look after your mental wellbeing, visit the NHS ‘Every Mind Matters’ website.