Mental Health during the Corona Crisis
The current Coronavirus lock-down measures has had a dramatic and profound effect on the mental health of a vast number of people across the country. Aside from the fact that human beings are naturally social beings, the effects of the lock-down are generating anxiety over jobs, businesses and fears over loved ones and personal health. While the ‘great British spirit’ is often to look for the positives in these situations (and many are observing the benefits of family life) for some, staying at home, for many reasons, is not a positive experience.
Here are a few tips to help stay mentally healthy during this lock down period:
1. Limit how often you read/listen to the news:
With more time to sit and pour over news articles, it is a slippery slope to an obsession with reading every Coronavirus development as it happens. By reading too widely you will likely find numerous tragic stories or articles that are not an entirely accurate accounts, thus creating a more dramatic effect. This type of content can lead to triggering feelings of anxiety. Stick to reading the facts from reliable sources like the government and NHS websites. If you’re living with children, talk to them about where they source their information from and the dangers of reading unreliable accounts. For those with younger children, don’t be afraid to talk about Coronavirus with them in an age appropriate way, they will also be experiencing a change of routine, a sense that life is not ‘normal’ and may well be harbouring their own feelings of anxiety. For a child-friendly book that explains the Coronavirus go to https://nosycrow.com/blog/released-today-free-information-book-explaining-coronavirus-children-illustrated-gruffalo-illustrator-axel-scheffler/.
2. Look after your physical self:
Research tells us that in nurturing your physical self, you are also benefiting your mental health. A good sleep routine, a nourishing, balanced diet and exercise are vital to a healthy lifestyle and can be the basis around establishing a good routine while in lock down.
Sleep: Sleep experts have long argued the benefits of having a fixed bedtime pattern to enable the body and brain to wind-down ready for bed. This is particularly true for children, it is thought that a warm bath and calming story before bedtime helps children drift off more easily.
Eat: Having a balanced diet is key to good mental and physical health. Home-cooking has been made easy with thousands of recipes online, with options to suit all chef abilities. There is a great sense of accomplishment in turning raw ingredients into something delicious. Planning and preparing meals also provides a good structure to the day. If you’re isolating with children, try to get them involved in both planning and preparing meals – not only is it a good learning opportunity but it will also give them a sense of purpose and responsibility. Have treats, but just beware that too much sugar can be an anxiety trigger.
Exercise: A release of endorphins is a tried and tested way to lift the spirits. Try to do something every day that increases your heart rate just a little (that will be different from person to person and it’s vital to remember that). If you can get outside in the sunshine for exercise then all the better - a walk, some gardening, there are also hundreds of online classes offering yoga, pilates and workouts. To find a class that suits you, Youtube is a good place to start, and don’t be afraid to give new classes a try, you can always press the ‘off’ button if it’s not for you! Exercise should be an important and fun part of children’s daily life to encourage their physical development and flexibility, plus exercising with your children can be a fun family activity.
3. Stay Connected:
Use the multitude of apps and devises to talk to friends and family. Share your worries and talk them through with people you trust. If you are struggling with your mental health, remember that your GP surgery is still available for you to access support. YoungMinds also provide free 24/7 crisis support across the UK for anyone experiencing a mental health crisis. You will find a list of useful contact details at the bottom of the article.
While it can be beneficial to our mental health to stay connected to other people, just be mindful of the perils of social media. Some material we see on social media can generate feelings that have a negative impact on your life. Limit the amount of time you spend scrolling through social apps and mute material that trigger any negative feelings.
4. Calming activities:
If you do feel anxious or struggle with mental health issues, prepare yourself with strategies that help to calm and soothe. Reading, listening to music, stories or podcasts, doing a puzzle or colouring are just a few activities that might help get you over the hill of a difficult episode. The web is packed full of breathing exercises for stress; the NHS website has calming breathing techniques and also links where you can find reliable sites for more exercises for specific mental health issues, including the mindfulness technique.
5. Be kind to yourself:
This is a stressful and worrying time in our lives and it’s okay to find things hard. I doubt anyone is getting as much done as they would do if life were ‘normal’. We’re all adjusting, we’re all juggling and this will be filled with highs and lows. Ride the highs and embrace the lows with strategies that lift your spirits. We must all try to remember that this will pass.
Useful telephone numbers and websites:
NHS website (Every Mind Matters):
Helpline: 0808 802 5544
Call 116 123, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for a reply within 24 hours
Shout Crisis Text Line:
Text “SHOUT” to 85258, or text “YM” if you’re under 19
If you’re under 19, you can call 0800 1111, the number will not appear on your phone bill.