19 March 2020

Looking after your mental health during COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Mental Health Covid

With the current situation surrounding COVID-19 (Coronavirus), it can be a worrying time for patients, carers and staff alike. It can be especially stressful for someone living with mental health problems and for the people around them who provide support. We have collated some useful information and advice that can ease worries, as well as providing practical tips that you can follow to protect yourself and your mental health.

The World Health Organisation has issued some advice including:

• Avoid watching, reading or listening to news that could cause you to feel anxious or distressed

• Seek information mainly to take practical steps to prepare your plans and protect yourself and loved ones

• Seek information updates at specific times during the day once or twice. The sudden and near-constant stream of news reports about an outbreak can cause anyone to feel worried.

Reliable sources

It is important that the information you read and digest is both authentic and the truth. You can get up to date information on the virus as well as government advice at:

nhs.uk/coronavirus

GOV.UK

Public Health England

 

Being able to disconnect

Having the ability to step back and take a break from the constant stream of news and information is a useful skill that could help your mental health. With news, conversations and social media controlling the news, it is helpful to control the content you see. If you are feeling overwhelmed, you could:

• Mute key words which might be overwhelming on Twitter and other social media platforms. Unfollow and mute groups if it is helpful for you.

• Mute WhatsApp groups and hide Facebook posts and feeds if you feel impacted by the topics.

 

Focus on yourself

With the wider picture often seeming overwhelming, it can be useful to identify the small steps that you as an individual can do to help fight the spread, and also to ease any anxieties you may be feeling.

• Focus on aspects in your life that you can control and acknowledge the ones you may not be able to

• Washing your hands for 20 seconds more often than you normally do and ensuring you follow government instructions, are steps we can all take to combat the virus together.

• Stay connected to not feel alone. Check that you have correct contact information for those around you and regularly contact them.

 

Self-isolating

Preparing for self-isolation may be a worrying time for some, but being prepared and having a plan may make you feel calmer and more organised.

•Mind have a useful checklist here including preparing work arrangements, cleaning supplies and commitments to ensure you are ready to stay at home. 

Stay well fed and drink water regularly. A plan may be made around getting groceries delivered for home delivery or getting a neighbour to drop off some supplies at your door.

• Try to keep active, although this may be difficult, exercising at home could be as simple as cleaning or walking up and down the stairs.

• Make sure your routine includes getting as much sunlight, fresh air and nature as possible to improve your mood and make you feel more relaxed.

• If you're self-isolating, strike a balance between having a routine and making sure each day has some variety. You could be productive and use your time to learn new skills, read a book or complete some jobs on your to-do list

 

Avoiding burnout

AnxietyUK suggests practising the "Apple" technique to deal with anxiety and worries.

• Acknowledge: Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.

• Pause: Don't react as you normally do. Don't react at all. Pause and breathe.

• Pull back: Tell yourself this is just the worry talking, and this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary. It is only a thought or feeling. Don't believe everything you think. Thoughts are not statements or facts.

• Let go: Let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don't have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.

• Explore: Explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell. Right now. Then shift your focus of attention to something else - on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry, or do something else - mindfully with your full attention.

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