Although it’s our physical health at risk from COVID-19 we still need to look after our mental health. Especially if we’re going to be stuck indoors for a significant period of time with limited contact and opportunity for exercise. Below I share my top tips on managing mental health during a pandemic.
Get The Facts Not The Fiction
Don’t rely on what Susan on Facebook has posted as the basis of your knowledge. Learn the real facts about the virus, check the government advice and inform yourself of what you can do to protect yourself. If you’re well informed you will feel less panicked overall because it will allow you to feel more in control of your own situation. I recommend the following websites for fact-checking in the UK:
Turn Off News Notifications
If you don’t feel you can handle being bombarded by notifications surrounding the virus from the BBC etc. just turn off the notifications. Headlines can often come across as scarier than the actual situation so I would recommend that everyone does this. Inform yourself in a headspace where you’re ready and comfortable to take the information in.
Do Things You Enjoy
If you’re feeling particularly stressed about what’s going on around the world you should distract yourself with things like Netflix, video games, books, etc. This is the perfect time for you to catch up on reading/watching books/tv-shows you’ve been too busy to enjoy. It lets you immerse yourself in a different world and escape reality for a bit. Just don’t watch contagion…
Keep in contact with your friends and family and make an effort to facetime them if you are lonely or you feel they may feel lonely. Isolation is a really difficult thing for anyone to deal with and it isn’t going to get better by completely hiding away. Even if it’s just a few texts, let people know you’re there.
Share Your Fears
This might be the most important one on the list. Share your fears with those that you trust. Not only can they make you feel better about it all, but they can also help you feel less alone in this. We are all in the same boat right now and sharing our fears and concerns with each other will only strengthen us as a community.
You may no longer have your gym to go to. This is a big change, but exercise is still important. I highly recommend watching work out videos on Youtube in order to keep exercising. Dust off the exercise bike you’ve been using as a clothes horse and get exercising.
Get A Meditation App
This type of event is stressful for everyone. I highly recommend switching off your notifications for an hour a day and meditating to get through it all. Even if you don’t feel stressed it’s a good way to switch off from everything happening and take a moment for you.
Remember That Some Anxiety And Fear Is Normal
In exceptional circumstances like this, it’s important to remember that if you are feeling anxious or scared that you’re not the only one feeling that way and it is normal. We are dealing with the unknown and that’s scary for everybody. A little bit of anxiety is fine, just make sure you put things in place to combat high anxiety levels and look after yourself, use the extra energy to prepare yourself for the worst e.g. meal prepping, etc.
I hope my list helps with managing your mental health during a pandemic. We may be dealing with an unknown virus that is spreading fast, but we’re also learning about the virus fast. If you are feeling a high level of anxiety I highly suggest that you talk to your GP or mental health team who can provide advice on how to cope with your symptoms. Don’t suffer alone.