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COVID-19: looking after your mental health

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Taking care of your mind as well as your body is really important while staying at home because of coronavirus (COVID-19). You may feel bored, frustrated or lonely. You may also be low, worried or anxious, or concerned about your finances, your health or those close to you. It's important to remember that it is OK to feel this way and that everyone reacts differently. Remember, this situation is temporary and, for most of us, these difficult feelings will pass. Staying at home may be difficult, but you are helping to protect yourself and others by doing it. The tips and advice here are things you can do now to help you keep on top of your mental wellbeing and cope with how you may feel while staying at home. Make sure you get further support if you feel you need it.

Staying at home

Most of us are staying at home more than we usually would, so it might feel more difficult than usual to take care of our mental health and well being. Ensuring that you get the basics right is essential to sustain good mental health, meaning:

  • Ensure that you eat well and stay hydrated.

  • Keep taking any prescribed medication and access treatments for exisiting health problems.

  • Take care of your immediate environment, making sure to keep it clean and tidy. If you're sharing your work and living space with others - be sure to consider their needs as well.

  • Develop a new routine, taking into account your other commitments to ensure a good work/life balance - particularly important if you have to care for children or other people in your household.

  • Find time for regulare exercise, providing you observe the necessary social distancing rules.

Managing working from home and childcare

  • If you are working from home more than usual, you may find it challenging if you are also looking after children who would usually be in nursery, school or college while you work. Consider ways to make sure that your child(ren) can keep in touch with their friends, whether this is over social media or over the phone.

  • Remember to add time in for breaks and lunch - try to replicate a typical school day routine. Many children will have work to do at home, so take time to ensure that it is completed.

  • We recommend if there has been no digital learning or work been made available via the school to encourge children to select books or podcasts that they'd like to explore. 

  • For older teens, there are free online courses they could try out (e.g. FutureLearn and BBC Bitesize).

  • Make sure that your child(ren) find time to exercise, either with you or at home in the garden. There are plenty of child-friendly exercise videos online, a partculary popular option is Joe Wick's P.E. sessions.

Guidance for people with caring responsibilities

The Carers UK website has detailed information about what to do if you provide care to someone else.

This includes guidance on:

  • Providing care for someone who is staying at home

  • What to do if you start to have symptoms of COVID-19

  • Making a plan for your caring responsibilities during this time, for example in case you become ill.

If you provide care to someone you don't live with and you need to self-isolate, contact your Local Authortiy. 

Keep in touch with others

  • Make plans to chat with people you would normally see in person. If you're worried that you might run out of things to talk about, make a plan with someone to watch a show or read a book separately so that you can discuss it when you contact each other. 

  • If you have any worries or concerns, take time to speak to someone you trust.

  • If you live on your own and you're worried aboiut loneliness, think about things you can do to connect with people including those at work (e.g. set up a group whatsapp chat and share recipes, reading lists or memes!).

  • Listen to a chatty radio station or podcast if your home feels too quiet.

  • If you know of people who live alone, either in your team or outside of work, make sure to check in with them as regularly as you can either over the phone, email or social media.

Know where to go for the right information

Making sure that you get the right information is key to ensuring that you do not cause yourself or others any unnecessary concern or anxiety. Be sure to only seek information from a trusted source, such as the government or a reputable news/media outlet such as the BBC or other well known public media. 

Whilst social media is a great tool for keeping in touch and sharing useful information it is also a significant source of misinformation - so please double check everything you read/see on social media against trusted sources. Additionally, think about what your are posting on social media. Are you inadvertently spreading misinformation by 'liking, sharing or retweeting' a staus from a non-trusted/unofficial source?

To use the free GOV.UK Coronavirus infromation service on WhatsApp, simply add 07860 064422 in your phone contacts and then message the word 'Hi' in a WhatsApp message to get started.

Find time for yourself (and others with you)

Make sure you find time to switch off and relax. There are lots of different ways that you can relax, take notice of the present moment and use your creative side. These include:

  • Arts and Crafts such as drawing, painting, colage, sewing, craft kids or upcycling

  • DIY

  • Colouring

  • Mindfulness

  • Playing musical instruments, signing or listing to music

  • Writing

  • Yoga

  • Meditation

Keep your brain occupied and challenged. Set aside time in your routine for reading books, magazines and articles. Listen to podcasts, watch films and do puzzles. Cleaning your house and doing laundry are important ways to help stop germs spreading and to maintain good mental health. The NHS website contains advice about how to stop germs from spreading. UK government has advice about self-isolation, including information about effective house cleaning.

Try to understand how others in your house are feeling about COVID-19 or whether they have any worries or anxieties around the new routine, ask them if there is anything you can do to help.

Speak out if you need help

If you have real concerns about your mental health, please contact your local GP surgery or the NHS Mental Health Services, where you can self-refer. We also recommend the 'Your Mind Plan' where you answer 5 questions in this interactive quiz to get top tips and advice for you!

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