New on the NHS website is a really practical guide to keeping on top of the mental health side of your life. There has been plenty of advice about how to relax, distract yourself and achieve some sort of equilibrium. However, the bottom line is that there are jobs to be done even at this time of disruption and,for many of us, inactivity.
So this advice breaks things down into a mix of coping and calming strategies and planning and job ticking-off duties. We think it’s ideal for anyone with a busy life who wants to get themselves back on top of things:
Mental wellbeing while staying at home
If you have to stay at home because of coronavirus (COVID-19), it’s important to take care of your mind as well as your body.
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 is OK to feel like this – everyone reacts in their own way to challenging events and uncertainty. It’s important to remember that 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.
1. Find out about your employment and benefits rights
You may be worried about work and money if you have to stay home – these issues can have a big effect on your mental health.
If you have not already, talk with your employer about staying at home, and learn about your sick pay and benefits rights. Knowing the details about what the coronavirus outbreak means for you for you can reduce worry and help you feel more in control.
2. Plan practical things
Work out how you can get any household supplies you need. You could try asking neighbours or family friends, or find a delivery service.
Continue accessing treatment and support for any existing physical or mental health problems where possible. Let services know you are staying at home, and discuss how to continue receiving support.
If you need regular medicine, you might be able to order repeat prescriptions by phone, or online via a website or app. Contact your GP and ask if they offer this. You can also ask your pharmacy about getting your medicine delivered, or ask someone else to collect it for you.
If you support or care for others, either in your home or by visiting them regularly, think about who can help out while you are staying at home. Carers UK has further advice on creating a contingency plan if you care for others.
3. Connect with others
Maintaining healthy relationships with people you trust is important for your mental wellbeing. Think about how you can stay in touch with friends and family while you are at home – by phone, messaging, video calls or online – whether it’s people you usually see often, or reconnecting with old friends or neighbours.
Lots of people are finding the current situation difficult, so staying in touch could help them too.
4. Talk about your worries
It is quite common to feel worried, scared or helpless about the current situation. Remember, it is OK to share your concerns with others you trust – doing so could help them too. Or you could try a charity helpline or webchat.
5. Look after your body
Our physical health really affects how we feel. Try to make sure you and your family eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water and exercise regularly.
Avoid smoking or drugs, and try not to drink too much alcohol. It can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour that end up making you feel worse.
Get outside for a walk or a run if you can, or try one of our follow-along home-workout videos.
6. Stay on top of difficult feelings
Concern about the coronavirus outbreak is perfectly normal. However, some people may experience intense anxiety that can affect their day-to-day life.
Try to focus on the things you can control, such as how you act, who you speak to and where you get information from.
It’s fine to acknowledge that some things are outside of your control, but if constant thoughts about the situation are making you feel anxious or overwhelmed, there are some things you can try to help manage your anxiety, like listen to a mental wellbeing audio guide.
7. Do not stay glued to the news
Try to limit the time you spend watching, reading or listening to coverage of the outbreak, including on social media, and think about turning off breaking-news alerts on your phone.
You could set yourself a specific time to read updates or limit yourself to checking a couple of times a day.
8. Carry on doing things you enjoy
If we are feeling worried, anxious, lonely or low, we may stop doing things we usually enjoy.
Make an effort to focus on your favourite hobby if it is something you can still do at home. If not, picking something new to learn at home might help – there are lots of ideas online.
10. Create a daily routine
Life is changing for a while and whether you are staying at home or social distancing, you are likely to see some disruption to your normal routine. Think about how you can adapt and create positive new routines and set yourself goals.
You might find it helpful to write a plan for your day or your week. If you are working from home, try to get up and get ready in the same way as normal, keep to the same hours you would normally work and stick to the same sleeping schedule.
You could set a new time for a daily home workout, and pick a regular time to clean, read, watch a TV programme or film, or cook.
11. Look after your sleep
Good-quality sleep makes a big difference to how we feel, so it’s important to get enough.
Try to maintain your regular sleeping pattern and stick to good sleep practices.
12. Keep your mind active
Read, write, play games, do crosswords, complete sudoku puzzles, finish jigsaws, or try drawing and painting.
Whatever it is, find something that works for you.
Further support and advice
There are plenty of things you can do and places to get more help and support if you are struggling with your mental health. Our pages on stress, anxiety, sleep and low mood have lots more tips and specific advice. If you are a parent, Young Minds has guidance on talking to your child about coronavirus.
The NHS mental health and wellbeing advice pages also have a self-assessment, as well as audio guides and other tools you can use while staying at home.
We also have guidance and information to help others if someone you know is struggling with their mental health.