How to protect your mental health during the coronavirus pandemicWednesday, 8th April 2020
Guest blog by Natasha Broomfield-Reid, Diversity Inclusion & Wellbeing Manager, Mills & Reeve. First published here: https://www.mills-reeve.com/insights/publications/how-to-protect-your-mental-health.
We are in a time of uncertainty and the amount of news and media coverage of coronavirus can often feel overwhelming. Adjusting to new daily routines, finance worries and not being able to see loved ones can take a toll on people’s mental health.
Limit your exposure to news and social media
It is very easy for us to continually listen to the news and keep abreast of issues related to coronavirus on social media. This can make us more anxious so try to limit the amount of times you check the news and social media for updates. Decide on a specific time to check in – the end of the day is a good time. This makes us less likely to be distracted or upset by ongoing news and updates during the day.
Don’t lose contact
Make sure you keep in touch with friends and family. There are so many ways that we can keep in contact using technology such as Whatsapp, Zoom and Facetime; these are great apps when used securely. Seeing people’s faces can make a real difference to us. For those who do not have access to technology, regular phone calls are still a great way to alleviate any fears and for our friends and family to let us know they are well. Remember to keep informed by sticking to trusted sources of information such as Government and NHS websites.
Mental and physical health are very important at this time. As we are at home more now and if you have the time, this may be a good time to tick that long ignored task off your to do list. Is it time to read that book you have been meaning to read/listen to an audiobook or podcast? Enrol on an online learning course?
Whatever your fitness level there are a number of activities that you can do including yoga, dance and a whole range of physical activities online. Make the most of your opportunity to leave the house once a day by starting or ending the day with a walk/run/cycle if you are able, or carry out some gentle exercise at home.
How about trying mindfulness/meditation? There are also lots of apps including Headspace as well as meditation and mindfulness videos online.
Getting a good night’s sleep
Feeling overwhelmed can cause restless sleep. Dr Nerina, sleep expert, gives tips on getting a good night’s sleep including:
- Breakfast is key: within half an hour of rising if possible. Having something to eat not only sets you up for the day ahead, but it regulates your melatonin production, to ensure a better night’s sleep for the coming evening.
- Moderate caffeine and alcohol: caffeine has a direct impact on reducing sleep quality.
- Keep hydrated: a litre and a half of water per day is essential for great health and a great sleep, as a minimum.
- Get an early night: if you can, commit to getting to bed at around 10pm for four or five nights per week.
Be smart with technology – have an ‘electronic sundown’ 60 to 90 minutes before bed. Once in bed, veto phones, tablets and devices that emit blue light as these can trick our brain into thinking it is day time!
Make sure you do something you love
Whether this is keeping in touch with friends and family, trying a new exercise routine or enjoying the theatre from your own home online, do something you enjoy every day to keep you motivated and engaged.
Try to remember
- Optimise things that you are in control of and accept limitations are outside of your control. This will help with feelings of frustration and worry.
- Share your experiences/how you are feeling and keep in touch with others.
- Try to develop a routine in whatever you are doing and take breaks – this will support your wellbeing.
- If something you have tried is not working, think about something else that may help.
Additional information and support
- BBC: Coronavirus and how to protect your mental health
- The Guardian: If coronavirus scares you, read this to take control over your health anxiety.
- Mental Health Foundation: Looking after your mental health during the Coronavirus outbreak
- Mind: Coronavirus and your wellbeing
- Every Mind Matters: Mental wellbeing while staying at home
- Anxiety UK: Coronavirus Support
- Young Minds: Coronavirus and mental health support