COVID-19 continues to dominate headlines and conversations around the world and is affecting the way we live our lives. Schools remain closed, most people are working from home and we’re wearing masks to go grocery shopping. We need to be aware that this ongoing uncertainty can impact our mental health.
We’re all familiar with what we can do to protect ourselves and our families from the virus, but with extended disruptions to our routines and isolation from other people, it’s important to pay attention to both our mental and physical health.
Some people will feel a lack of control due to the pandemic, which can lead to feeling scared, nervous or anxious. These are completely natural responses, but for people with existing mental health issues, these feelings can be amplified. So, how can we protect our mental health?
- Stay positive and keep perspective We’re currently bombarded by worrying headlines and it can be difficult to avoid negative thoughts, but this will only lead to more stress and anxiety. Try to think about the positives of the situation and things you can control; appreciate any extra time in the day that the situation has given you, and remind yourself that the current restrictions we’re all living under are helping us get through the situation as safely and quickly as possible.
- Create a routine and stay busy Keeping a routine at home can help give you some control over your days. Create and try to stick to a schedule for work and household chores - and home-schooling if you have kids. Regular sleep patterns and mealtimes also help give you more structure to your day. Filling your free time with your usual or new hobbies and activities can help create a sense of normality and help distract you from negative thinking.
- Look after yourself Try and take some time every day to look after you. Stressful situations can cause you to take care of everyone else around you and forget about yourself. Take a moment alone each day to do what makes you happy. This can be as simple as reading a book; putting on an outfit that makes your happy; a quick workout; or even trying some stress- relieving meditation or breathing techniques.
- Get the facts and forget the rest Coronavirus news and information is everywhere we turn and unfortunately a lot of it, especially social media comments and articles, isn’t correct. Limiting the amount of time you spend online scrolling through news and posts can help curb anxiety levels, and sticking to reputable sources will also give you a more balanced view. Try to maintain a more positive outlook by accepting that some things are just not in our control, and remember that we’re all working together to better the situation.
- Stay connected Staying in touch with family and friends is a great way to maintain a sense of normality. Checking in with family members will help you, and them, to feel less isolated and a catch up with friends is a valuable way to talk about your feelings and alleviate stress.
Whatever way the coronavirus situation is making you feel, remember that you’re not alone. Most people around the world have been affected and we are all feeling some degree of frustration, worry or confusion. Take the time to try to deal with these feelings. If you feel they are taking over your thoughts and affecting you daily life, talking to a medical professional can help you tackle your feelings and develop ways to cope better.