Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing

It is likely that every one of us will experience some form of anxiety or distress due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as we all continue to adapt to the changes to our daily routines with no specific end-date in sight.

The constant media updates and barrage of statistics can be overwhelming and at times may feel inescapable, and it is critical that we all take steps to protect our mental health and emotional wellbeing. This can be as simple as limiting your daily exposure to the news, creating and maintaining a basic daily routine and asking for help when you need it. These may be small steps but they can go a long way in helping us to stay safe and remain upbeat; whilst also keeping our minds as healthy as possible.

Dr Jo Daniels recently hosted our SRUK Facebook Live Q&A on Mental and Emotional Wellbeing. She provided excellent advice and tips to help you cope during this time of shielding and self-isolating. Please follow the link to watch part 1 and part 2 the video.

You may have seen Jo in her recent interview with Sky, as she has also written various articles on coping with self isolation and we are really lucky that she will be giving us her time to help support our community. This is a link to an article she has written on this topic.

Preventing information overload

Limiting the extent to which you are reading or watching the news updates surrounding COVID-19 will help to reduce the likelihood of anxiety, since this unprecedented onslaught of new information can worsen feelings of stress and worry for yourself and your loved ones.

Taking positive action, such as making the decision to look at the news for up to 15 minutes twice a day, can enable you to keep up-to-date whilst remaining in control of your situation. It is also important to rely only upon trusted sources of information, such as BBC News, The Guardian and the NHS website. This is because of the amount of misinformation and 'fake news' that exists, which can create additional confusion and anxiety for all of us.

Reducing excessive social media use

Social media is a valuable resource during times like these, especially when we are feeling isolated from our friends and family. It is important however to be aware that this can also be unhelpful and even cause harm if it is being abused. Rumours and speculation spread rapidly across social media, and it can become difficult to separate facts from fiction.

Just like other information channels, it is important to find a balance so that you can stay connected to your loved ones and the world around you, without feeling overwhelmed. Deciding on specific times to check social media accounts and unfollowing or muting any sources that share content that makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed can go a long way in helping to keep anxiety levels low. Group chats can also be muted if people are continuing to post alarming information, which is often not fact-checked.

Keeping in touch with your loved ones

The current situation means that many of us are feeling isolated, especially if we live alone. Agreeing regular check-in times with your friends and family will help you feel connected, and thanks to technology there are a number of ways you can do this. It can be as simple as picking up the phone, or organising a group call over Skype or Zoom. You can also get creative with some shared activities during these calls, such as putting together a quiz or playing a game of bingo.

Developing a new daily routine

Many of us have had our normal routines disrupted, with our children now home schooled and so many people now furloughed from work. It is therefore important to think about what your daily routine may look like, and putting together a plan can be beneficial for our mental health. If you are working from home, getting up at a regular time and getting ready for the day can be helpful, as can setting a time every day for doing some exercise, reading or making regular phone calls. This also provides the opportunity to set yourself goals, for example in learning new skills or completing certain tasks. Incorporating a time to focus on your favourite hobbies is also important to help you to remain positive.

Tackling problems with sleep

A lack of structure to the day can make it difficult to fall asleep, and fatigue can play a key role in mental health issues and feelings of stress and anxiety. Keeping regular sleep hours can help teach your body to sleep better, and you should try to avoid napping if possible. Reducing your intake of alcohol and caffeine prior to bedtime is also important, as these can prevent deep sleep, which means that you will not feel as well rested in the morning. Dark, quiet and cool environments help us to fall asleep more quickly, as well as remaining physical active. Going out for exercise is still one of the core reasons for which we can leave our homes, provided that we stay two metres away from others outside of our households. More advice can be found here.