Remember - Most of us have some (or a lot of) anxiety.
Discovering how to take care of your mental health during the Lockdown can help us reduce our anxieties and fears. None of us have experienced anything like this before. Whenever we turn on the TV or radio, or look online we are reminded that we have a worldwide pandemic. News is given about new cases in the UK, Europe and beyond. Lockdown is occurring in towns and cities across the globe. All of us are wondering “what next?”
Because of the uncertainty and our desire to know the latest news, we may find ourselves looking constantly for news updates. We may see many stories which we don’t really want to see, perhaps because of our desire not to miss out as soon as good news is available. The uncertainty can be the hardest thing to deal with. This is where the anxiety comes in for many of us because we don’t know how bad things might get, or how this will affect us. Indeed, anxiety is a natural response to the unknown. Since so much about the virus is still unknown, anxiety is an entirely normal reaction.
This is why you need to take care of your mental health during the Coronavirus outbreak. It is easy for many of us to fear the worst, to catastrophise and let our fear run away with us. So let’s look at what you can do to keep a lid on your anxiety.
Stay informed — but don’t check the news constantly.
Of course we should stay informed, so we can follow guidelines which may be changing frequently. We all want to do our part to reduce any risk of getting the virus for ourselves and others.
But beware of information overload, which can easily add to your anxiety. Be choosy about what you read and watch, and use only trusted sources. Social Media may not be the best place to get your updates, and sources like the World Health Organisation and NHS are good options.
Equally, if you are sharing information with anyone, it is best to ensure that news is from trusted sources such as these.
Talk to somebody.
It may not help your anxiety to bottle up your thoughts. Somebody else may have a different point of view and discussing your concerns with someone that you trust can really help. Being able to chat without feeling judged can alleviate some of that stress that has been building.
Focus on what you can control.
Much of what is going on with regards to the pandemic is outside of our control. We can’t control how other people behave, and how long this will last. The more information we discover about things outside our control, the more this can fuel anxiety.
Instead, try to look at things you can control. This may include steps you can take to reduce your own personal risk, and to those in your household. It may be following any recommendations from the authorities, such as keeping 6 feet away from anyone else and building these actions into your routine.
Look after yourself physically.
When looking at how to take care of your mental health during the Lockdown, your physical health is also important. You don’t need to think that a new punishing physical routine is necessary (it isn’t), but some light exercise built into your day will help. Get as much fresh air as you can, too. Even if you are just walking around in the garden or opening a window, this will help.
Eating and sleeping well is easy to overlook, especially if we are feeling anxious, but try to give yourself a balanced diet. If you enjoy being in the kitchen, you may want to prepare a few meals ahead. One-pot dishes are fantastic because you can generally make them with little effort and make a few portions at once. Check out some online recipes – cooking can be a great distraction if you’re feeling anxious. The reward of discovering a new dish that you enjoyed can be great too. If cooking is not your thing, perhaps enlist the help of someone who can help you.
Try to wind down before bedtime. Looking for news updates before going to bed can stop you getting that much needed night’s sleep. Any upsetting or thought-provoking news stories late at night can stop you from unwinding and switching off. Switch the stories off instead – they can wait!
Stay connected—even if you are self-isolating.
Self-isolating and Social distancing can cause feelings of loneliness and isolation. These feelings, especially over an extended period of time, can impact our mental health.
Being connected to friends and family can reduce the harmful feelings of loneliness and isolation, even if we are not physically in the company of others. Obviously, we have the telephone but newer technology such as Face Time, Zoom and Skype allows us to interact face to face regardless of physical location.
Social media can also be great for feeling connected. Don’t forget though, you may be tempted to listen to news on the sites. Avoid speculation and focus on facts. It can be easy to get drawn into other people’s theories and hype. You are not sticking your head in the sand by doing this. Choose respected sites, such as the NHS, to get clear and factual information.
If you do see any unwelcome news, or that adds to your anxiety log off if it’s making you feel worse.
Try to keep a routine.
Try to stick to regular mealtimes and bedtimes. This can help you maintain a sense of normality. When you are stuck at home it is easy to lose track of the things you would normally do. Set time aside for the things you would like to do, whether it is hobbies or crafts, exercise, relaxation. Stay as active as you can. Perhaps you did not have the time to do these things when you were so busy with work. Now is your chance!
Do your bit to help others.
Another way how to take care of your mental health during Lockdown is to remember that we’re all in this together. By looking at those around us, we can realise that we are not alone in our anxiety.
By looking at the predicaments or needs of others, people tend to be happier and less anxious than those who do not. Helping others can also support your own mental health and well-being. Being helpful to others can give you a real sense of purpose.
See more of Diane’s posts here.