If you've been asked to stay at home and avoid other people during the coronavirus outbreak, it might feel more difficult than usual to take care of your mental health and wellbeing.
Here are some ideas which may help:
Connect with people
Make plans to video chat with people or groups you’d normally see in person. If you’re worried that you might run out of stuff 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’re part of a group of people who are also self-isolating, you may be part of group communications to receive updates on your situation. This group could also act as an informal support network. Think about things you can do to connect with people. For example, putting extra pictures up of the people you care about might be a nice reminder of the people in your life. Think about listening to a chatty radio station or podcast if your home feels too quiet.
Decide on your routine
Plan how you’ll spend your time. It might help to write this down on paper and put it on the wall. Try to follow your ordinary routine as much as possible by getting up at the same time as normal, follow your usual morning routines, and go to bed at your usual time. Think about how you’ll spend time by yourself at home. For example, plan activities to do on different days or habits you want to start or keep up. If you live with other people, it may help to agree on a household routine. Try to give everyone you live with a say in this agreement and respect each other's privacy and give each other space.
Keeping active and stimulating your mind
Build physical activity into your daily routine, if possible. Most of us don’t have exercise equipment like treadmills where we live, but there are still activities you can do. Exercising at home can be simple and there are options for most ages and abilities, such as, cleaning your home, seated exercises and online exercise workouts that you can follow. As well as physical activity, mental activity is also important. Keep your brain occupied and challenged by reading books, magazines and articles. Listen to podcasts, watch films and do puzzles.
Handwashing and anxiety
Some mental health problems can cause difficult feelings or behaviours to do with washing or hygiene. If you experience this, you might find it hard to hear advice about washing your hands. If this is making you feel stressed or anxious try things such as, setting limits, like washing your hands for the recommended 20 seconds. Plan something to do after washing your hands to help distract you and change your focus. Breathing exercises can also help you cope and feel more in control. Let other people know you’re struggling, for example, you could ask them not to remind you to wash your hands. It could also help to read some tips on obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), if this is what you are experiencing.
Take care with news and information
It’s important to stay connected with current events, but be careful where you get news and health information from. For up-to-date advice, see the NHS coronavirus webpage and gov.uk coronavirus webpages. If news stories make you feel anxious or confused, think about switching off or limiting what you look at for a while. If social media is making you feel anxious, consider taking a break or limiting how you use this too. You might decide to view particular groups or pages but not scroll through timelines or newsfeeds.
If you’re feeling anxious, claustrophobic or trapped
If you’re feeling anxious or claustrophobic it may help to open the windows to let in fresh air, or you could spend time sitting on your doorstep, or in the garden if you have one. Try looking at the sky out of the window or from your doorstep. This can help to give you a sense of space. Regularly change the rooms you spend time in can also help. If you have panic attacks or flashbacks, it might help to plan a 'safe space' in your home that you'll go to. You can also find ways to comfort yourself if you're feeling anxious. For example, there are games and puzzles you can use to distract yourself, and breathing exercises which may help.
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Hull and East Yorkshire Mind