We stay safe, stay home and wash our hands – but how can we look after our mental health during Coronavirus? These tips may help.
Social distancing and self-isolating isn’t easy. It’s natural to feel anxious or bored. There’s a lot to think about, from exams, study and your jobs future to having questions about the physical health of you and everyone you know.
When you feel this way, it’s often natural to want to turn to your friends for moral support – but you know you need to stay home and you can’t go and meet a friend for a proper chat!
It’s important to look after your mental wellbeing when you are self-isolating or social distancing during COVID-19 (that’s the type of Coronavirus that is going around right now).
These tips on ways to look after your mental health may help.
1. Stay calm with calmness techniques
These calmness techniques aren’t just for job interviews. They can help you to put things in perspective when you are worried about things related to Coronavirus, too. See if you can recognise negative thoughts and shape them into positive thoughts instead. See if you can focus on positive self-talk if you start to feel anxious.
2. If you use social media, don’t let it rule you
Social media can be a blessing. It is a great way to connect with others, which is important during this time. It can also be a good way to get useful tips and the latest news to do with Coronavirus (always check your sources are accurate). But sometimes you need to avoid social media overload if all that scrolling is doing no favours for your mental health. Follow positive accounts, don’t believe everything you read, and if you think you are using social media too much for your wellbeing, see if you can limit the amount of time you spend on it.
3. Take a daily break to work on your mental health
The mental wellbeing app from 87 Percent is totally free to use if you are aged 18-24. It helps you get to better understand what makes you tick, with really helpful activities and food for thought to help you work with your mental wellbeing over time. It could be really useful to download the app while you are self-isolating.
4. Reach out and be kind to others
Being kind to others can help take us out of ourselves and put us in a happier frame of mind. If you are worried or frustrated, your friends and family might be worried or frustrated too.
Being kind to others who may be emotionally struggling can take all sorts of forms. Our nurses, emergency service people, posties, shopworkers and delivery people are doing amazing work to keep us safe. We can all help out by being a hero in little ways. We can choose not to be mean about someone on social media, or look out for people we know who might be feeling alone or exhausted and reaching out (online or by phone) to offer a bit of emotional support.
It’s okay to make the first move to reach out. In fact, it’s better than okay – it’s awesome. You could really make someone’s day by showing them you’re thinking of them.
5. Plan your time
If you have been self-isolating for a while, you might start feeling like the days are getting really long. Structure and routine can really help our mental health, and routine can help you adjust to a new situation and make it feel more normal. It can make you feel like you are in control, and in times of change that is a nice feeling.
- Plan to be clean and groomed every day (okay, maybe not on Netflix and chill days and the weekend).
- Plan activities for the days ahead so you’ve always got things to prepare for and look forward to.
- Make to-do lists each day so that you can tick off things you’ve done. This will give you a feeling of achievement every day. It’s good to feel productive.
- Create a housework rota for your house. You could be living with a partner, friends, flatmates, family, or living alone… it doesn’t matter. In any home situation, a tidy(ish) house where there isn’t just one person feeling overwhelmed by all the housework left to do is usually a happier home. Tidying up can also help you feel calmer, because it is quite gentle physical activity.
6. Stay connected
Your friends are used to hanging out with you in certain ways, but now you might want to get creative.
Video calls are a great way to see each other’s faces, as well as hear each other’s voices. You can feel more a part of each other’s day when you can be your casual self on a video chat. Older members of the family who are self-isolating elsewhere might really appreciate video calls from the family too.
Here are some more ways to help feel connected with friends and family:
- One minute discos – send each other videos of yourselves dancing to a favourite track
- Send each other your daily achievements – maybe some baking, or putting together a new look from old clothes
- Exchange wholesome memes that make you smile
- Share online quizzes and compare results
- Reach out to a family member you don’t often talk to and ask them how they are
7. Be open-minded to new possibilities
There are lots of new activities to explore. They might get your creative juices flowing and help you find the positive in a new situation where things may feel very different for a while. Some of them are group activities that could help you feel connected to others, too.
- Read free books online or download stuff via an e-library.
- Boost your skills with our free Young Professional training (if you’re already signed up, check out any tips or challenges you might have missed. It’s all really positive stuff you can do at your own pace, with no obligation).
- Learn a new language (The Duolingo app is totally free and plays like a game).
- Find new ways to exercise at home (from all the free online exercises floating around to simple-but-it-works dancing in your bedroom).
- Watch films online with your friends. Netflix Party is a new way to watch Netflix with your friends online, but there are all kinds of apps to help you and your friends have TV watch parties and long-distance movie nights.
- Join an online choir (if you like singing, there are lots of free online singing groups you can join. Singing is said to be scientifically beneficial to your mental health, and it will help you have a bit of structure to your days to know you have an online singing session to attend).
- Create new music playlists for a variety of moods. If you like, you can share them with friends. Listening to music can uplift you, invigorate you, help you acknowledge and transform your mood, help you create some personal space, help you spark your imagination… music is magical.
- Download free web conferencing software and learn to use it for all your online meetings (you may be having lots more of these, for fun as well as for study or work).
- Join our #StayInStepUp challenge, if you are able, to do some healthy exercise in your own home and all for a good cause. Exercise gets feelgood endorphins flowing and sometimes it can help you lift a low mood.
8. It’s okay to reach out for help
You don’t have to go it alone. If you are worried about anything, you can always reach out for help. Speak to a friend or someone you trust. You can also speak to a helpline. If you are worried about your privacy because of lots of people self-isolating in your house, you can often get in touch with helplines by email or text instead of by phone.
- UK mental health resources
- Mental health crisis UK helplines
- UK student helplines and support resources