This Mental Health Awareness week we asked our staff for some of their top tips for coping in these difficult times:
1. Exercise – being stuck inside is a massive blow to your mental health well being and it's easy to start feeling lethargic and unmotivated. So, why not use The Couch to 5K app from the NHS? You can download the app from App Store or the Google Play Store. It’s a bit like a podcast so a celebrity motivates you as you go along, which we found very helpful!
2. Being kind to yourself - So as much as you try to keep to a normal routine, it's good to be realistic that not every day is going to be super productive and accepting the fact that we’re not just working from home, we’re working at home during a crisis, so you cannot be expected to be exactly as productive as you would be during ‘normal’ time.
3. Podcasts - Struggling to concentrate on a book? Why not try listening to a podcast? One of our favourites is Happy Place, it’s a great pick me up and there are some incredibly honest and deep conversations between Fearne Cotton and her celebrity guests.
If Happy Place isn't your thing why not try:
- Phone a Friend with George Ezra & Ollie MN
- Not Another Anxiety Show
- Bryony Gordon's Mad World
- Heads Together 60 Second Support series
4. Keep in contact – social distancing and self-isolation means a different rhythm of life. Keeping in regular contact with friends, family and colleagues on social media, via email or on the phone, is a good way of being close to the people who matter to you. Video chats through WhatsApp or FaceTime are a great way to see the people you miss.
5. Avoid speculation – rumour and speculation can fuel anxiety so having access to the facts about the virus can help you feel more in control. You can find the latest accurate information from reputable sources such as Public Health England or the World Health Organisation.
6. Try to anticipate distress – it’s ok to feel vulnerable and overwhelmed during this outbreak, especially if you have experienced trauma, had a mental health problem in the past or if you have a long-term health condition that makes you more exposed to the effects of coronavirus. Acknowledge these feelings and remind each other to look after our physical and mental health. Keep talking and be kind.
7. Talk to your children – this can be hard to understand for an adult so you can imagine kids are feeling worried too. We can try to minimise the impact it has on our children by explaining the facts, without causing alarm. You can find advice on talking to children from the Mental Health Foundation here.
8. Look after your sleep - Good-quality sleep makes a big difference in how we feel mentally and physically, so it’s important to get enough. Maintain regular sleeping patterns and keep up good sleep practices like avoiding screens before bed, cutting back caffeine and creating a restful environment. Click here for more advice on sleeping well. Relaxation techniques can also help, or you could try this mindful breathing video.
9. Staying connected vs social anxiety – whilst we’re encouraged to stay connected, sometimes it’s also beneficial to be aware of the social activities we’re involved with. Stay in touch with friends on social media but try not to sensationalise things. If you’re sharing content, use information from trusted and reputable sources, and remember your friends might be feeling worried too. Regularly assess your social media activity. Are there particular accounts or people that are increasing your worry or anxiety? Consider muting or unfollowing accounts or hashtags that cause you to feel anxious.