by Kirsty Benton
Knowing how dangerous the spread of the virus is, it seems sensible to prepare for more social distancing beyond April 13th. There are so many issues surrounding this pandemic that may cause anxiety and low mood – health anxiety, bereavement, social isolation, financial instability.
So, how can you stay positive when this confinement seems indefinite?
Start your day getting up at the same time as you would before COVID-19. Routine is really important to help you achieve goals and normality can be reassuring. Start your day with some time for yourself. Self-care through meditation, yoga, mindfulness or day-planning/journaling/to do lists is a great way to focus and motivate yourself for the day ahead. There are endless online classes and apps to guide you through these activities.
Then onto a healthy breakfast. Nutrition is key to ensure your wellbeing. Make the most of any extra time to cook nourishing meals and work your way through any favourite/neglected recipe books.
After your morning is over try and ensure your lunch is a physical and mental break in your day. How about talking to friends or family over a lunch time Skype session? See this time as a good opportunity to consolidate your relationships and connect with people who mean the most to you. Try and use video calling as seeing their smiling faces will make your smile too.
Once you’ve completed your afternoon tasks do something to signify the end of your working day and beginning of your evening. This is a good time to do your exercise and leave the house. Whether it’s just a walk to the end of the road or a jog around your nearest park, getting some sunlight on your skin and fresh air in your lungs is a mood lifter.
As you get to the end of the day start thinking about winding down and preserving your sleep hygiene. Get into bed at the same time every night to maintain your routine and help you get enough good quality sleep, which in turn helps lower stress and regulate mood.
Don’t give yourself a hard time. Not every day will be productive and even though we have more time at home the same stressors and responsibilities exist so don’t beat yourself up if you need a duvet day, or two.
Take a break from the news. The constant stream of information is anxiety-inducing. Designate a time in the day to seek updates and avoid looking at news the rest of the time. Ensure your sources are reliable eg. Public Health England, World Health Organisation and NHS. Don’t believe everything you read. There is a lot of fake news on social media and this can provoke anxiety even further. Please be responsible for the news you share to friends and family too. Misinformation can be really harmful.
Avoid unhelpful coping strategies like smoking, alcohol and drugs. These are short term fixes that have a detrimental effect long term.
Helping others is a really great way to not only benefit them but also make you feel better. Look for local groups on Facebook or post an offer to help your vulnerable neighbours through their letter box. You can also join the NHS Volunteer army. Helping others feels good!
Don’t wait, get help when you need it. You may need mental health support and there are many resources to help you. Explore the recommended resources below and talk to your GP, NHS 111 or the Samaritans.
Have something to look forward to. This will end. And when it does it will be amazing to finally do the things you’ve been looking forward to. Whether it’s eating in your favourite restaurant, seeing a show in the theatre or heading home to your family and hugging your parents and dogs (the last one is getting me through!)
Meditation and mindfulness: Headspace app and Calm app
Help for low mood/anxiety: NHS 111, GP, Samaritans (call 116 123 free), Anxiety UK, NHS wellbeing service www.good-thinking.uk
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Mood Gym www.moodgym.com.au
Sleep: CBT programme for sleep www.sleepio.com
Volunteer: Age UK, NHS Army www.goodsamapp.org/NHS
Public Health England
*Disclaimer: The COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation and these numbers are a best estimation based on current statistics.