Times feel uncertain right now. Day to day we don’t know what measures the government will introduce. People are stockpiling food which means many of are going shopping to find empty shelves. And lots of us are self-isolating, self-distancing and working from home due to symptoms or because of government advice.
Whilst a day or two at home can be fine for most of us, extended periods at home, especially for those living alone, can be difficult. It can lead to increased anxiety and depression as we are not getting enough fresh air, time with friends or exercise.
Here are a few ways we can all tackle isolation and keep our mental health strong during this unprecedented time.
DO make a plan for your day
It’s important we don’t fall into bad habits while we are at home. It can be tempting to stay in our PJ’s, not shower or brush our hair, and just roll out of bed to work from home at 8:59am! However, actions like this make us feel out of routine which can be destructive for our mental health. It will also make things harder when you go back to normal. Make sure you get up at the usual time you would and follow your usual morning routine. Go to bed at your usual time as well and get a normal amount of sleep. Sleeping too much can make us feel like we have less energy which feeds into how we feel. Try to plan activities for the evenings and weekends so that you don’t just sit and watch tv. Write out a routine to help you stick to it!
DON’T spend too much time watching the news
Whilst it’s important to stay up to date with the latest government briefings, it can be tempting to sit and watch the news all day or keep refreshing your social media feeds. Doing this can lead to increased anxiety and make us feel overwhelmed, especially with the amount of misinformation out there. It can make our mind spiral out of control worrying about what next or how we will come. Make sure you take time away from your screens, and when you watch the news, make sure you check your thought processes. Interrupt negative and spiralling thoughts by reminding yourself that you are safe and in time, things WILL go back to normal.
DO eat well and stay hydrated
This can be a bit tricky at the moment, especially with fresh food flying off the shelves! But try to eat healthy as much as you can. It might be tempting to binge on unhealthy snacks and meals that aren’t nutritious but as much as possible try to eat fresh food or at least frozen fruit and veg. Binge eating unhealthy food can not only make us feel bad about ourselves but it can lead to too much sugar going around our body’s which leads to sugar highs and sugar lows. This can really be detrimental to our mental health. Eating regularly and keeping your blood sugar stable helps your mood and energy levels. Changing your routine might also mean you end up not drinking as much water as usually, or you might drink different fluid than usual. Make sure you stay hydrated and set alarms to ensure you keep drinking water. Check out our article on keeping a health diet whilst self isolating.
DON’T isolate yourself socially
We know you can’t see people at the moment, but that doesn’t mean that you need to fully isolate yourself. Make sure you daily text check-ins with your friends to discuss how you are all coping. Set up times to video chat with your friends and family. Just like you would make plans to meet someone at the pub, make plans to share a beer over WhatsApp Video call. We’re all in this together, so it’s important we keep the lines of communication open even though we can’t see each other! Tell them how you are feeling, encourage each other, and make plans for what you will do when it all goes back to normal.
DO find ways to spend your time
If ever there was a time to get a new hobby, now is it! Find alternative things to do with your time. Read the books that have been sitting on your shelf unread. Order a puzzle and try to complete it. Teach yourself to sew or knit. Try drawing or painting. There are many things you can order online to help you learn a new skill – so get ordering!
DON’T stop exercising
Without being able to get to the gym, it can be tempting to drop exercise all together. But exercise is great for our mental health, so keep exercising but just adapt your routine. If you can safely get out for a walk or a run then do so, but there is plenty of workouts you can do around the house. Try running up and down the stairs if you have them and use cans as weights. There are tons of home workouts on YouTube that don’t require any equipment, so find one that suits your fitness level and make time to do it in the day. Try some sitting exercises. Or you can even stay active by cleaning your home or dancing to music! We’ve rounded up our 8 favourite home workouts to help.
DO spend time in nature
Spending time in green space benefits your mental wellbeing by improving your mood, reduce feelings of stress and make you feel more relaxed. Now, we know this isn’t going to be easy at the moment, but there are small things you can do. Spend time with the windows open to make sure you get some fresh air. If you have a garden or balcony, its important you step outside regularly during the day. You may be able to grow plants or flowers on your wind sill, especially with seeds and supplies able to be ordered online. Make your computer screen a nice picture of nature, or one of your favourite places. You can even put on sounds of nature to give that feeling of being outside.