Looking After Your Mental Health in an Isolated World
We won’t pretend to be mental health experts, but we do have minds of our own and we’re feeling the pressure of the current situation too. We hope that the ideas in this article might go some way to helping you through this bizarre time. If you have any tips we’d love to hear them – let us know!
…any way that you can. Social distancing, self-isolation, lockdown… they’re scary-sounding words. BUT we’re lucky enough to live in a world full of alternative communication methods. Here are a few ideas:
- Video Calling. FaceTime, Skype, Zoom – there is a whole world of free options for video calling. Seeing the face of a loved one, having a ‘virtual cuppa’ with your bestie or scheduling a ‘face-to-face’ work meeting gives you that essential human contact.
- Online Games. There are millions – and you can play with your friends. Apps, boardgamearena.com … some pubs are even doing online pub quizzes while they’re closed!
- Movie Night. We’ve been hearing great things about Netflix Party – a Google Chrome extension where you can watch your favourite Netflix series in-sync with your friends, with a text window to discuss what’s going on.
- Social Media. This is a mixed blessing – sometimes social media can be an overwhelming tide of mis-information and fearmongering, but if you tread carefully it can be a beautiful window into the lives of friends and relatives… and a great source of #DadJokes !
- Phone Call. An oldie but a goodie! Your landline could just be your new best friend.
Remember: you’re not bothering anyone. We’re all in the same boat. Schedule time to virtually connect just as you would usually plan to meet-up in person, have it to look forward to a few days in advance.
…in moderation. Obsessing over the news isn’t going to be good for your mental health. Here in the UK the Prime Minster is giving daily updates on the situation, advice & parameters – so maybe limit your news consumption to this & distance yourself from it for the rest of the day.
…of what you can’t control. Often things negatively affect our mental wellbeing because we want to control them and can’t. Accept that it’s natural to want to control the situation around you. Then accept that you can’t control it all. Then focus on what you can control and look for positivity there.
- Follow the advice from the government.
- Eat well. Supermarket out of pasta? Now’s your chance to try some new recipes. Our kitchen packs are here to help.
- Choose to find positivity around you. Sunny? Get around to that gardening, it’s the perfect time of year for it. Can’t see a friend? Give them a call, or rediscover letter writing.
- Obsess over images of people ignoring government advice. You can’t control them, re-centre and remember that you are doing all you can.
- Worry about panic buying. We’ve seen the shelves emptier than normal, but supermarkets are getting deliveries every day, and there’s plenty to go around. If you can’t get everything you planned, adapt, try some new recipes!
We know the temptation to go into full hibernation mode but try not to go too extreme.
- Don’t gorge on comfort foods. There’s no harm in a couple of #IsolationTreats but eating nothing but is likely to make you feel worse. Healthy, wholesome, home-cooked food is the best way forward – try to stick to your usual diet as much as possible.
- Include exercise in your daily routine. There are so many things you can try! At-home workouts are all over social media right now – work with what you have (milk bottles act as good weights, apparently), or consider ordering some dumbbells online. If grip is an issue we have a range of aids that could help you.
- If it’s safe for you to go outdoors go for a walk, jog, wheel, bike ride – just remember to keep the recommended 2 metres from anyone you pass (and of course don’t forget the friendly smile or wave). If you’re in a high-risk group and have been warned to stay at home you can still go in the garden.** Enjoy the fresh air & vitamin D.
…ish. No-one is telling you to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic super-fit, a master chef, or with every job around the house complete. It’s important to let yourself have some down-time too.
That said, we humans thrive when we feel accomplished. Try and do something each day that you can feel accomplished about, whether it’s an exercise session (we’ll post ideas for at-home workouts!), trying out a new recipe, weeding a flower bed, or working from home. But when you need a break: take it.
If you have kids don’t put pressure on them, or yourselves, to get a full ‘school-day’ done. If their school sent home work for them to do then, yes, take a look, do some. BUT this is an unprecedented time, and children worldwide are all off-school too – your kids won’t fall behind just because they didn’t spend six hours a day doing maths sums! Maybe take this chance to teach them some of the life-skills that schools don’t teach as much… show them how to cook, clean and garden. Remember: your kids are probably feeling overwhelmed too, so don’t feel bad about giving them a bit of extra downtime, or a ‘day-off’ here & there.
The people who can’t stay safely inside their houses. The medical professionals, carers, shop assistants and delivery drivers… and so many others! They’re keeping the world running at the moment, so let’s appreciate them now more than ever.
We’re probably all feeling quite sorry for ourselves at the moment, and that’s okay, but let’s turn those thoughts from self-pity to outwards thinking. Why not make a list of people that you know are on their own and call them every now and then? If you’re able, could you shop for an elderly neighbour who needs to stay in for their safety? Collect somebody’s prescription? All around the world we’re seeing communities draw together, what an incredible thing to be a part of.
Relax and Enjoy.
It may sound unlikely, but once this is over and the world has resumed its fast-pace you may find yourself almost longing for government-imposed weeks at home. Now is the time to put your feet up and give that Netflix series a go, treasure time with those in your household, and look in wonder at the natural beauty of our planet… from the safety of your sofa of course.
** Please follow current government advice for your area and risk group. Governments are giving different advice for different groups of people, which can change frequently. Stay safe.