We are currently continuously seeing and reading of the impact covid-19 coronavirus can have on our physical health and we are beginning to see the impact this can have on our way of life and global and personal economic implications – But from speaking to our clients and people around the town, it’s becoming more apparent that the longevity of this situation is also very testing for our mental health.
We are increasingly hearing terms like ‘socially isolate’ and ‘socially distance’ and these are not terms that are associated with good mental health and increased levels of stress and anxiety.
The advice below is about identifying practical ways of looking after your mental well-being and minimising stress and anxiety during this time. These strategies may also be helpful for your friends and family so please feel free to share.
1. The first place to start when looking to manage your stress levels is ensuring that you are only sourcing your information from reputable sources. Here in the UK these would include the government website and the NHS website. Social media posts and even some of our best news outlets have a tendency to sensationalise the information we are consuming.
2. Limit your exposure to the news. While it is important to keep up to date with the evolving situation day to day; Do you really need to keep checking your phone every half an hour to find out which event has been cancelled, which super market has ran out of milk or which celebrity has self isolated today!? This can be seen as addictive behaviour and is not good for your mental health.
3. Stay connected with family and friends, whether via the phone or online just for general social contact and look to make plans for the future rather than over ruminating on the current situation.
4. Support and help each other. If you yourself need help then ask for it, even if it’s just social support and if you can offer help to anyone then again offer it; even if it’s just a phone call or an offer to do some shopping for someone.
5. There’s no doubt that this is a stressful time and many of our clients and people that we have spoken to have said that they are exhausted by the situation. While there are many things we cannot control, what many of us are experiencing is a standard stress response… So stress management strategies need to be increased and with facility closures we may need to actively look for alternative stress management strategies. We recommend some great meditation apps that are easily available such as headspace and calm. There are also some great free resources on YouTube.
6. It’s also important to pay attention to several lifestyle factors that will help you manage your stress, anxiety and mental health over the coming weeks. Making sure you get adequate sleep (see our top sleep strategies here), eating a healthy diet and while it may not be possible or advisable to attend an enclosed facility like a gym or exercise class it is important to find ways to engage in regular exercise, particularly getting outside if you can. See our sofa based workout here and better still supplement that by getting your walking or running shoes on and get outside. Even borrow or offer to walk a neighbours dog if you can!
7. While some of you may be continuing to work from home or attempting to distract yourselves with new projects and hard work, it’s likely that there is an increase in stress levels due to the situation and therefore it is advisable to reduce your workload and allow more time for leisure and relaxation, recognising that you need to do this in order to effectively manage the stress response.
8. It’s likely at this time that your regular routine and habits have been interrupted (particular if you go to a gym!). One of the most effective proven strategies used by those who have gone through a difficult situation or period of little or no social contact is the use of routine. It’s important that you find a new routine in this uncertain period. Pick up a pen and work out a new routine that includes looking after yourself, planning to do things that you enjoy, making contact with others and looking out for other people. Also focus on doing something practical for your business or work, even if if it’s just planning for the future.
9. Remember all the closing of sports, cinemas, schools etc is in preventative nature, not because things are necessarily getting worse in proportion to the measures taken. Change your prospective, this is a positive thing that’s preventing the spread so try to change the way you see things and how you respond to the situation. Get some perspective, search for positive news stories like the 107 year old grandmother who beat corona virus or the recovering waters and returning wildlife around Venice.
10. Finally and most importantly if you or people that you speak to are really struggling with the mental impact of this virus and the forced changes upon society then don’t hesitate to contact professional organisations such as your GP, A&E department in a mental health, www.samaritans.org , www.giveusashout.org, www.mind.org.uk
It’s important in these times to stay safe and look after each other but to also remember to take care of yourself, physically and mentally.
“Tough times don’t last, tough people do”
(some info adapted from The Physio Channel)