World events and changing circumstances can be very unsettling. The arrival and spread of a coronavirus, COVID-19, is a cause for concern for many of us.
Worries about our health, finances and those closest to us can leave us feeling overwhelmed, anxious or stressed . This compounded with restrictions to our everyday lives can leave us vulnerable to feelings of low mood.
It is important to remember that this is a challenging time for everyone and that most of us will struggle at some point.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to prioritise your mental wellbeing and take steps to lessen the strain.
Medical director, Dr Ahmad Khouja, said:
“In crisis situations most people will feel afraid or nervous. People react to these emotions in different ways and it’s important to remember that people’s behaviours may not always be as we would expect or like. These are unprecedented times and it is important to be kind, compassionate and understanding to ourselves and each other.
“At times when we feel out of control trying to create and follow a routine can help to bring a sense of normality back into our daily lives. Find two or three things that give you a sense of stability each day, whether that’s a predictable meal time, planned time to rest and chat to people, or making sure you are up and dressed by a certain time”
“If you’re beginning to feel down and you’re struggling to manage your mental health a series of free, online resources are available from the Recovery College online. We’ve also pulled together our top five tips for mental wellbeing which you may find helpful.”
Top five tips for mental wellbeing…
1. Look after your physical health
Your mental and physical health are strongly linked so it is really important to make sure you take care of your physical wellbeing.
We know that hand hygiene is important in reducing the spread of viruses. Washing your hands regularly throughout the day is a good habit to get in to and should be done before and after contact with others, before you eat or drink and after you have been to the loo.
Eating healthily, doing some exercise and having enough sleep are also essential components in keeping well. Cutting down on how much alcohol you drink can improve your mood and quitting smoking can help you to feel less stressed.
2. Live in the moment
It can be difficult to treat ourselves with the same compassion we show other people, especially if things aren’t going well.
The threat posed by coronavirus can leave many of us anxious, stressed and worrying about the future. Taking time out to notice what you’re doing and how you’re feeling can help you to let go of the things you can’t control, make wiser choices and stay calm.
Mindfulness is a particular way of paying attention to the present moment which helps to reduce unhelpful patterns of thinking and feeling. Find out more on the Recovery College Online. Free resources are also available from the Oxford Mindfulness Centre which you may find helpful.
We will also be updating our mindfulness page with further information and resources in the coming days.
3. Get connected
It is well known that loneliness and isolation can affect your wellbeing. Following latest measures announced by the government most of us will be spending the majority of our time in our homes so using digital technology to build and maintain our supportive networks will be essential for mental wellness.
Make sure that you keep checking in with those who are closest to you via phone, text, social media or what other channels are at your disposal. It’s not only good for you, but will help them too.
It could also be a good opportunity to connect with new interests online and take advantage of the many new, free activities that are being made available on social media.
4. Give to others
Doing something kind or for the benefit of someone else is good for you too. Evidence shows that it can help to reduce stress and improve your emotional wellbeing.
If you are able, picking up some shopping for someone who is isolating can make a real difference. Sending letters to local residents in care homes, joining in with ‘Clap for our carers’ or displaying a rainbow in your window could bring a little joy to others (and could give you a little lift too).
5. Seek help if you need it
Know your limits. These are challenging times and we all need a helping hand sometimes.
Opening up about how we’re feeling is really important for good mental health. Often the simple act of talking to someone and voicing our worries is enough to help us sort through our thoughts and reduce feelings of anxiety.
However, sometimes people will need more support.
If you’re currently receiving our service your care team will have been in contact to let you know how to access help.
The Recovery College Online also has a wealth of mental health and wellbeing resources and peer support forums which you could find helpful.
Support is also available from helplines including the Samaritans, SaneLine and Mind – you can find their contact details here.
Adults newly experiencing common mental health difficulties like anxiety or depression could benefit from talking therapies services.
Free online counselling services are also available to young people aged between 11 and 18 living in the area.
If your mental or emotional state gets worse quickly, this is described as a mental health crisis or emergency. Advice on what to do in these circumstances is available here.
See here for more updates about coronavirus.