These are the easy steps to take to look after your mental health during coronavirus

Get off your phone

With the number of coronavirus cases increasing and a number of countries going into lockdown mode, it’s easy to feel panic for the health of yourself and others. The stock buying and incessant news updates can also increase anxiety, particularly for individuals who already suffer from mental health problems.

The potential of self isolation or quarantine for seven to fourteen days can cause feelings of loneliness and depression to easily sneak in.

A rising number of people are experiencing coronavirus anxiety. BACP  (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) member Elizabeth Turp suggests we are in a state of anxiety as coronavirus is unknown and that connects with the fear centre in our brain.

She said: “The main thing is it’s an unknown threat.

“The way that it’s being portrayed is connecting with the fear centre in our brain; our underlying fears. Nobody wants to feel more under threat of death.”

A number of mental health organisations and health care professionals are sharing their tips for how to look after your mental health during this time.

coronavirus mental health

Here is all the advice on how to look after your mental health during coronavirus:

Don’t ignore anxiety and try to express it

If you’re struggling with anxiety, the BACP recommend acknowledging your feelings and knowing that it’s normal to feel this way can help.

One BACP counsellor, Elizabeth, said: “It’s very normal to feel scared about something like this.”

“Acknowledge that you feel this way. Don’t ignore these feelings.”

Elizabeth also suggested writing your worries down and then letting them go is crucial.

She said: “Allow yourself to worry, put it down in writing in a notebook, and then put that away. Let it go.”

Consider how you engage with the news

For some people constant news updates about the virus are incredibly overwhelming and distressing. And for others engaging with the news is helpful, so they feel informed.

Elizabeth suggests thinking about how you interact with the news and which sources you get your information from.

Mind also suggest limiting your social media use and engaging with certain pages and groups, but not looking at news feeds or timelines. Twitter also allows you to mute keywords which could be triggering for you.

If you want to avoid the news completely but don’t want to miss on any crucial updates ask your friends or family to keep you informed.

If you do want to learn of any updates stick to looking at the NHS site, government advice and trusted news sites.

Hand washing and anxiety

According to Mind, some mental health problems can cause difficult feelings and behaviours to do with washing and hygiene. Individuals may find it difficult to hear constant advice about washing hands.

If this is something you suffer from Mind advises asking others to not constantly remind you to wash your hands. They also suggest setting limits for the time you wash your hands and to not keep on repeatedly reading the same advice.

Looking after your physical health

During this time it’s important to take care of your physical health to help with your mental health. Mind suggests eating regularly and keeping your blood sugars stable will help your mood and energy levels.

Mind also says to keep drinking eight glasses of water and that if the change in your routine shifts how much you’re drinking, to put reminders or alarms on so that you’re staying hydrated.

Even though gyms could potentially be causing the spread of the virus, it’s still important to stay active, even if that means working out at home. Gerard Barnes, the CEO of mental health treatment specialists, Smart TMS, suggests exercising for three hours a week can help fight the symptoms of mental illness.

coronavirus mental health

Combating loneliness

Staying inside for a number of weeks and only seeing the same few people or worse no one at all, can be incredibly lonely and increase feelings of depression.

If you’re feeling lonely, regularly using FaceTime to talk to friends or elderly relatives is a great way to stay in contact. Potentially set up standard times to call so you know you have something to look forward to and are having regular contact.

Also, if the constant updates about Covid-19 are causing you anxiety then maybe agree with your friend before hand to not talk about it and instead both agree to read the same book or binge watch the same show and then discuss it.

If you’re on your own have the radio on or podcasts that are chatty in tone, so you feel connected. If hearing about the virus is causing you anxiety then maybe listen to podcasts that aren’t news based.

Try and stick to a routine

Mind recommend developing a routine for your isolation period. They suggest writing down your routine and trying to stick to your old habits as much as possible- get up and go to bed at the same time you normally would for example.

They also suggest this time is a great chance to reset a routine if you’re unhappy with your current one.

Use this time productively

The idea of being stuck inside can feel quite stagnant, so use this time in isolation to develop a new skill or bring back an old one. Learn a new language using an app or get an old instrument out.

You could also use this inside time to do a deep clean and tidy. Doing a Mario Kondo level clear out can actually be therapeutic and is a great use of your time that you’ll appreciate when isolation is over.

Engage in some wholesome activities that don’t require your phone

The constant updates about coronavirus can be incredibly over whelming and anxiety inducing. So sometimes it’s good to step back from your phone and there are loads of activities to do that don’t involve scrolling.

Mind recommends these activities to help you relax: arts and craft, playing musical instruments, yoga and meditation.

And these to keep your mind stimulated: reading, doing puzzles, listening to podcasts and completing free online courses.

coronavirus mental health

If you’re feeling worried and want to understand more about coronavirus visit The Mix, who answer all your essential questions about the virus. 

Visit NHS, WHO and the Government website for up to date advice and information. Visit Mind or the NHS for more information about looking after your mental health. 

If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans on 116 123 (UK and Ireland), email [email protected], or visit the Samaritans website to find details of the nearest branch. 

Featured Image Credit: Mohamed Hassan / Pixabay Licence

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