Managing your mental health during this COVID-19 lockdown
Coronavirus has affected all aspects of our lives and the constant news about the pandemic can feel never-ending. Not only is it impacting our physical health but it is taking its toll on some people’s mental health too.
Staying at home, social distancing and self-isolating are crucial in stopping the spread of COVID-19, but they can affect us psychologically. So what can we do to support our mental well-being during this time?
For all of us in lockdown, or coping with the many profound impacts of COVID-19, here are some tips to help us through:
It’s easy to slip into the habit of sleeping late, spending all day in your pyjamas and eating junk food, but looking after yourself is essential for your mental health. Even simple tasks such as washing your face can feel difficult sometimes, but they can make a big difference to the way you feel.
Ensure you are in a well-ventilated room and following basic self-care, so healthy eating, sleep, lots of hydration, and try to keep to a routine.
It’s important to have supplies at home to avoid added stress. If you are self-isolating and unable to leave the house even to shop, you’ll need to make plans. Think about getting food delivered or asking someone else to drop food off for you. Being at home might impact your routine which can affect your appetite and when you drink water. It can help to create a new routine to make sure you are looking after yourself.
Use skills you already have, and have used in the past, to deal with stress.
Limit worry by watching or listening to media coverage less.
Exercise if you can
Getting moving is easier said than done when you feel low or anxious, but it can significantly boost your mood.
If you are well enough, exercise is really good for mental as well as physical well-being. Find music that helps boost your mood. If you are able, get into your garden and get daily doses of sunshine.
Exercise however or wherever you can get it. It will lower your stress levels, help you regulate your emotions and improve your sleep.
Exercising at home can be simple and there are options for most ages and abilities, including yoga videos or cardio workouts.
Stay in touch with family and friends
Maintain and create connections with others, through virtual groups, book clubs and co-working spaces. That way, you can offer support to anyone struggling or reach out to others if you need to.
Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help offload any worries and fears you may have. It’s also important to try to keep busy, whether that means going for a daily walk or learning a new skill. There are still plenty of activities you can engage with at home, including crafts, painting, reading, cooking and baking.
Set some really good foundations to help manage stress:
Make sure you get the sleep that you need. Avoid blue lights before bed and maintain a routine around sleep and wake times.
Eat well. Especially where children are involved, when you’re up to here already with the level of stress, leaning on alcohol or other things is not your friend. And when we’re stressed we eat sugar or fat and they don’t necessarily help us maintain our best immune systems, or our best level of cognitive functioning.
Routine is your friend. Create clear distinctions between work and non-work time and spaces. Find something to do that is not work and is not virus-related that brings you joy.
Know your own stress signals:
If you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed try to understand your own warning signs. Identify key thoughts, sensations and actions that contribute to your cycle of distress (frustration, worry, sadness, tension, compulsively checking the latest COVID-19 statistics).
Acknowledge those warning signs and actively seeking to settle that tension in those early phases will help you maintain a level of function and help you get through.
Actively relax. It sounds trivial but these things really feed into anxiety and maintain it. Some people start to shallow breathe. Engage with belly breathing, it engages our rest and digest system, slows our heart rate down and bring us into a resting state.
Be kind to yourself
If you don’t feel up to doing anything, though, that’s fine too. It’s important to be kind to yourself and recognise when you need a break.
Take care of yourself, focus on your recovery, and you’ll get through this. Tell yourself ‘what I am doing is enough’. Be good to yourself.
Try to relax and focus on positive things, knowing that every effort is being made globally to bring this situation to a close, but it will take time.
Culled from www.newsroom.co.nz