Looking After Your Mental Health During COVID-19

By Rachel Davis

Principal Associate

The outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has plunged the world into uncertainty and the constant news about the pandemic can feel relentless.

The government is telling us to stay at home and to only go outside for food, health reasons or essential work, and always to stay two metres away from each other. We don’t know how long this will last and, as it is unlike anything most of us have experienced before, it can feel strange, confusing and overwhelming.

This means that most of us are spending a lot of time at home and many of our regular social activities are no longer available to us.

All of this is taking its toll on people’s mental health. The fear of being out of control and unable to tolerate uncertainty are common characteristics of many anxiety disorders so people with pre-existing anxiety are facing additional challenges during this time.

There are many things we can do to support and manage our wellbeing during this time:

Keep in Touch

At times of stress, we are better in company and with support from friends and family. Whilst seeing most friends and family is not possible during this time, it is important to stay connected. Try and stay in touch with other people through social media, email, phone or video call and agree regular check-in times.

Avoid Speculation

The frequent news updates and stories on social media means it is impossible to avoid news about COVID-19. It is important to keep informed but if this is making you anxious, limit the amount of time you spend reading or watching the news. There is a lot of misinformation and media speculation, so stay informed by sticking to trusted sources of information, such as government and NHS websites.

Stick to a Routine When Working From Home

As many of us are now working from home, we have to navigate this new way of working together. Try to stick to a daily routine and treat your working day as you usually would, such as getting up at the same, regular time, getting showered and dressed and taking regular breaks throughout the day. Try to keep in regular touch with your colleagues so everyone can discuss problems, concerns and ideas.

Keep Physically Active

Our physical and mental health is undeniably linked so it is important to stay active. Try and get outside once a day for exercise and fresh air such as a run, a walk or to do some gardening. There are also many forms of exercise you can do from the comfort of your own home, such as workout videos.

Keep Your Mind Active

During this period of self-isolation and social distancing, it is a good idea to find new ways to stay stimulated. Create a new daily routine and try and give your days structure with different activities planned at different times. Try new things such as reading more, cooking, watching films, trying relaxation techniques, online brain stimulating games and learning new skills. There may be something you’ve been meaning to do for a long time and now you may find you have time to finally do it!

Support Other People

Remember, we’re all in this together. There may be someone you can support who lives alone, who is vulnerable or who may be struggling with anxiety. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them with a phone call or a text as this could make all the difference to someone who is feeling isolated and alone.

Finally, it will help to try and see this as a different, if unexpected, period of time in our lives, creating a new rhythm of life, which may even have its benefits in the long run.