Mental Health During Coronavirus: How To Look After Your Mental Wellbeing
Do you feel like social isolation is taking its toll? Are you worried about your mental health during the coronavirus lockdown? Here at The London Psychiatry Centre we feel that coronavirus and its impact on mental health is something society should be talking about more.
“The coronavirus pandemic is affecting all aspects of life, from relationships and work, to physical, mental and emotional health. Whether you’re socially distancing or having to self-isolate, being apart from family and friends can be really difficult to deal with. It’s perfectly normal to feel bored, frustrated and anxious, stressed. But, thankfully there are plenty of steps you can take to improve your mental wellbeing whilst staying at home and following Government advice.” explains Dr Rafael Euba, Consultant Psychiatrist.
“It’s important to remember that this situation is temporary, and although we don’t currently have a date for when we can expect life to return to normal, it won’t be forever. By staying home you’re protecting not only yourself, but other vulnerable people who could be put at risk. It’s not unusual to feel anxious and out of control in times like these, but the key to improving your mental wellbeing during these times is to focus on what you can control. From getting up to going to bed, creating positive routines and setting new goals can be very beneficial – even if it’s different to normal.”
If you have lost a loved one…
Sadly, many will experience the loss of a loved one during the pandemic. Unfortunately social distancing measures mean that it’s not always possible to say a final goodbye to lost loved ones. It’s ok to feel like you need some additional support during these difficult times.
We are still here for you; our consultants are experienced at supporting those who have experienced a loss and can help you cope better.
We’re just a phone call away.
How To Look After Your Mental Wellbeing Whilst Social Distancing
Limit exposure to news
Whilst it’s important to stay informed, and can be tempting to stay glued to the news, this can actually exacerbate those negative feelings, adding to your stress level. Sensationalist coverage can instil fear and feelings of anxiety, not only in those who already suffer with anxiety, but those who haven’t had it before. Turning off your phone and/or social media notifications can feel freeing and we recommend that if you’d like to check the news, then you set aside some time, once a day at most, where you purposefully do this. And when you do so, try to use only official sources like WHO, NHS and the Gov.uk website. In a similar vein, if you have certain friends sharing updates on Facebook that get you feeling all riled up, make use of the unfollow functionality to temporarily stop seeing their updates.
Continue getting support and existing treatment at home
If you already suffer with anxiety, it’s quite likely that the pandemic has heightened the symptoms of anxiety, particularly feelings of fear and dread, making it more intense. Whether you suffer with anxiety or not, if you have an existing or recurring mental – or physical – illness, it’s important you continue to use coping techniques and keep up with any treatment. If you have medication, remember to allow 14 days for any repeat prescriptions in case of delays. Many clinics and GPs are now doing remote appointments so you can get help without leaving your home – including us here at The London Psychiatry Centre.
Although it may seem like it’s more difficult than ever to maintain relationships and stay social right now, it’s essential to remain connected in order to help maintain good mental wellbeing. Current social distancing measures permit meeting one other person for the purpose of exercise, whilst maintaining a distance of 2 metres. Is there a friend or family member you could meet for a walk? Aim to speak to someone over phone or via video call at least once a day. This also gives you a chance to talk to someone you trust about your concerns and how you feel. If you don’t feel like you can, you may find it easier to speak to someone you don’t know, like a counsellor.
We’ve talked about it before, and for good reason. Exercise is strongly linked to mental wellbeing, and much research has cited the benefits of activity on mental health. If you are working from home, you could start and end your work day with a short walk. Not only does this count towards your daily exercise and will help boost the feel-good endorphins in the body, but it can be a good tool for mentally distancing yourself from work so you can relax in the evening.
Take note of what you eat
There’s no doubt that being at home more can lead to boredom. Unfortunately, one of our natural responses to boredom is to eat more – often comforting and sugary foods. Food can influence mental health and although it’s a complex topic, research has shown that those who eat more fruit and vegetables have a higher level of wellbeing. A randomised controlled trial study also found that a Mediterranean-style diet led to significant lowering of depression symptoms. Could you reduce consumption of sugary foods and increase vegetable intake?
On a slightly different note, if you are used to getting your food shop delivered, and are unable to secure a delivery slot at the moment you may find the thought of going to the supermarket heightens anxiety. Whilst there are many coping techniques for anxiety, breathing exercises can be particularly helpful and calming in this kind of situation.
Do something productive each day
Whether it’s something as small as making the bed or the washing up, doing something productive can help you feel a sense of achievement which can in turn influence your mood in a positive way.
Do something you enjoy each day
Whilst it may feel like your options for activities are limited at the moment, why not use this pandemic as an opportunity to rediscover the simple pleasures in life? Even if you don’t feel like it, doing something you enjoy, for example reading a book, completing a crossword puzzle, making yourself a coffee, drawing or even gardening, can help not only reduce your stress level but improve your self-esteem, contributing to better mental wellbeing.
Ultimately, it’s important to be kind to yourself. This is an unprecedented situation and everybody is getting through it however they can. Whether you’re feeling low, have anxiety, depression or have lost a loved one and need someone to speak to, we’re still here for you.
If you feel like you’re struggling to cope or would like to talk to us, we’re just a phone call away. All consultations are carried out by phone or video call where possible, and you don’t need to join a long waiting list. Simply call our administration team on 020 7580 4224, who will be able to arrange for you to speak with the most appropriate consultant for you. Alternatively, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may like to read our blog post How To Make Yourself Happier.