How to take care of your mental health during COVID 19?
Disclaimer: The advice is changing quickly, please stay up to date with current guidelines on the government website.
Disclaimer 2: Mental health is important, this article is not to be used instead of a consultation with a health professional, but rather summarising some useful tips. If you are feeling mentally unwell, or have previous mental health diagnosis and are finding it harder to cope, please speak to your GP.
Staying at home can have its difficulties, especially as a student. Read on for some reflexions on how to deal with these emotions and how to take care of your mental health during this crisis.
Dealing with uncertainty
Psychologist show that uncertainty is a big contributor to anxiety: How long is this going to last? How long will I have to stay locked in at home? How is my studying going to be affected?
Unfortunately, you cannot get rid of this uncertainty at present. You can however, deal with this uncertainty differently and try to accept the situation.
- Instead of focusing on things you cannot change, try to think of what you could change: try to ask yourself what things you could do to make the self-isolation better (see point 3).
- Speak about your uncertainty and try to put your worries into words.
- Remember that everyone is in the same situation, you are not at a disadvantage compared to anyone and everyone has the same uncertainty.
- Try to practice mindfulness: what is important right now, around you? Your university work is still on even if you are studying from home, your goals remain the same, there are many new great ways to stay occupied etc…
- Now is a good time to try some relaxing techniques: yoga, meditation… These are skills that will make you better equipped for all kind of stresses and you can keep in your future life!
Unsurprisingly, news on the outbreak is everywhere on mainstream media and social media. And everyone around is constantly discussing the details and bringing information and numbers on the table. This constant flow of information may fuel your anxiety, not giving you any spare moment to think about other things.
Do s and don’t s:
- Hang onto your phone for updates
- Check the news every hour
- Follow live numbers online several times a day
- Delve into long and detailed articles about difficult situations
That probably just stirs up more stress and doesn’t give you any useful information!
- Stay up to date with recommendations, they are changing fast
- Setting a set time to check the news, once or twice a day, no more.
- Look out for government and NHS advice once or twice a day, no more!
- In the meantime, focus your attention on something else!
Ask yourself if you are getting positivity out of social media or not! There are some great accounts motivating people to exercise or bake or get some nice self-care going!
However, there are some other accounts which may stress you! Some may make you feel worse because you compare yourself to others in a unhelpful way.
Really ask yourself if the content is making you feel better about yourself or not! if not, you are free to unfollow!
Making the most of self-isolation
It is normal that the idea of staying at home for a long stretch of time is stressful. We are so used to being out and about in our day to day lives, and we perhaps take it for granted as it is part of our routine. Suddenly, we feel much more restricted to us: less space, less people, less activities. However, staying in may not be as bad as it seems!
- Start on some projects you have been putting off due to lack of time before: making photo albums, rearranging your bedroom to make it more cosy, start cooking healthier meals…
- Start or develop activities or hobbies: reading, drawing, playing an instrument, cooking, baking, making cocktails…
- “Self-isolation” definitely does not mean you have to cut contact with friends and family, in fact this is the best time for long phone calls, skype sessions and group calls to catch up with some friends. People around you remain here for you and they are just a phone call away!
Keep moving! I KNOW THIS IS HARD! We are not used to exercising in our home. But it will be very beneficial to your mental health, boosting your energy levels and your mood and also releasing endorphins to help you sleep better. There are lots of video tutorials and follow along workouts on the internet, set yourself challenges and don’t lose the rhythm. Why not put music to get yourself motivated and track your progress in a diary?