Taking care of your mental health
These are stressful times, so it’s more important than ever to pay attention to your mental health. Here are some tips to help you manage any anxiety and worry caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Limit your news intake
We all need to abide by Government advice to protect the vulnerable in our communities, even if we think we are not particularly vulnerable ourselves. It’s good to stay up-to-date with the information, but there is a lot of fake news about it so go to trusted sites.
BUT avoid spending most of your time searching for updates and news.
It’s tempting to keep checking your phone and searching the web and social media for news and updates. This is likely to just make you feel more anxious and worried. Instead you may want to plan to check at specific times, perhaps just once or twice a day.
If you find yourself with much more spare time than usual, think of creating some new routines or activities. Are there books you always wanted to read, films you want to watch or recipes you haven’t tried?
Some people may find it more difficult to get going in the morning. Keeping normal basic routines like getting up at a specific time, showering and getting dressed can help.
Look after yourself
Eat healthily and regularly, consider moderating alcohol intake, get plenty of sleep, and exercise. All of these are good for the immune system and tend to help mood as well. Of course, social isolation means not going to gyms or exercising in groups but an exercise routine at home, in the garden (if you have one), or in a largely empty park is feasible. There are many home exercise videos available on You Tube. Better gyms are offering virtual classes through their app.
In stressful times, some of us can become self-critical. You’ve got enough burdens without that. Be kind to yourself. If you live with others, remember they are also under stress and try not to personalise any irritating actions.
Mental health support
Local psychology service, iCope, can provide support and practical advice on managing Covid-19 related worries. In the first instance, please access the iCope website for the latest news and advice. If needed, you can make a self-referral via the website or by calling 020 3317 6670 (please note that you may need to leave a message). You will then be offered an initial 30 minute telephone appointment within two days. This structured conversation will offer practical support, signposting and access to helpful materials. iCope will be updating their website over the coming days and weeks so do check their website for the latest information on those services.
The NHS has put together a helpful list of mental health helplines that you can access on the NHS website.
Headspace, a popular meditation app, is offering some free access during this time. Similarly, Good Thinking is a useful source of mental health and wellbeing resources that is available to all of us living in London.
Become MORE socially connected
We have to physically distance ourselves from others, but we are social beings. Compensate by reaching out to friends and colleagues using social media, phone calls, Facetime, Skype, Zoom etc. This will combat the loneliness we can feel when physically isolated. Create regular ways of linking with your work colleagues even if you are all working from home. Maybe a daily group video conference? Consider creating a WhatsApp, Slack or other social media group.
Kindness is a double blessing. It makes the person who receives a kind act feel better and it makes you feel better for doing it.