Today (Saturday 10th October) is Mental Health Awareness Day, and with 2020 being somewhat of a rollercoaster (understatement!?) it feels like a particularly pertinent subject to discuss. Studies suggest that over two-thirds of UK adults (69%) have reported feeling concerned about the effect the COVID-19 pandemic is having on their lives and mental wellbeing.
Coronavirus has had a massive impact on day-to-day life and mental health around the world. For many, bereavements, job losses, restrictions on social interactions, and a heightened sense of uncertainty about the future have led to rising levels of anxiety, depression, and loneliness.
While the feeling that the situation is beyond our control can be difficult to manage, there are ways to help us cope with ‘the new normal’:
With continuing lockdown and social distancing measures, many can feel isolated and cut off from their usual support networks. This can be particularly distressing for older or vulnerable people who may not be able to see family members for extended periods.
While we may not be able to hug freely and spend time with loved ones in the ways we’ve previously been used to, there are creative ways to stay in touch with those we care about.
Whether you’re hosting a quiz over a video call, messaging, or sharing photos, it’s important to have that human contact – even through a digital medium.
Reaching out to others, especially those who are shielding or living alone can make all the difference to both your own and your loved one’s mental wellbeing.
If you aren’t able to get out and about in the fresh air, there are plenty of ways to get moving at home. YouTube is a great resource where you can find something for everyone – from core strength workouts to dance tutorials and yoga classes.
Exercise is great for both the body and the mind – getting the blood pumping can improve your concentration and motivation. Getting the kids involved can also be a fun way you keep them motivated and healthy too.
Physical exercise can also help you get a better night’s sleep – something that is often compromised during times of stress.
Take Time Out
Of course, this can be tricky when you’re trying to juggle work, childcare, and all of life’s daily challenges! But taking just a few minutes to yourself each day can help you press the reset button.
Whether it’s a ten-minute meditation or just five minutes of sitting quietly after a shower, the conscious process of observing your thoughts can be incredibly beneficial and break the cycle of anxious spirals.
There are lots of apps and online videos that can guide you through mindfulness exercises. Most give you a reminder notification too! Check out this list of 12 mindfulness apps to help you keep calm during a crisis.
When lockdown first happened, and people started panic-buying, it seemed like we’d all be living on tinned rations for the foreseeable future! Fortunately for most, this isn’t the case.
When you’re feeling low or stressed, you may experience changes to your appetite, and it can be difficult to muster up the motivation to cook. But if you have access to varied, fresh food, then getting a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water throughout the day can lift your mood and make sure you stay healthy.
Why not try getting the kids involved with cooking too? Finding some tasty recipes that they can help out with can keep them entertained and create a shared experience.
Be Kind To Yourself
Let’s face it, we’re living in strange and sometimes scary times. There is no right or wrong way to react to the situation, and whatever your feelings are, they’re valid. Some people may struggle with a sense of helplessness, while others might think they need to stay strong for their families – even though they may feel frightened, they try not to show this to their children or loved ones. Others still may feel totally calm about the whole thing.
It’s important to remember that however you’re feeling about the global situation – it’s okay. Take a moment to acknowledge how you’re feeling without judgement.
The impact of COVID-19 affects us all differently. There are many resources out there that can help support you through difficult times. For more advice and tips, have a look at the Mind website.
Take good care!