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Staying sane in self-isolation

Lydia Owen  •  3 min read

By now, we’ll all be familiar with the advice on how to stay safe during the current coronavirus outbreak, how to physically protect ourselves from contracting the virus, and how to practice effective social distancing. But how do we protect our mental health during these testing and challenging times. How do we stay sane in a world that, right now, is anything but?
 
Sadly, it’s inevitable that this unprecedented crisis is going to affect our mental health as we struggle to get used to a new way of living, working and even schooling. You might be missing family or friends, facing financial uncertainty, or — to be blunt — just feel bloody scared. No one is unaffected — and that can seem overwhelming.
 
So how can we keep our spirits up when everything else is on lockdown?
 
·  Use social media and the phone to keep in regular contact with family and friends. This is especially important if you — or they — live alone.
·        Keep to a (loose) daily routine. OK, so it may be far removed from your ‘normal day to day schedule but creating order to the day can help you to stay focussed and can also be reassuring, particularly for others in your household.
·        Get washed and dressed in the morning as it will bring a little normality to the way you live your life — and help differentiate week days from weekends! (Also, no one needs to see you in your grubby PJs on a video call…!)
  • Keep the house as tidy as you can. This might be challenging with everyone under the same roof at the moment but it’s a means of feeling in control. That said…
  • … lower your standards. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. We are in the midst of a crisis so you can afford to let it go if you don’t tick everything off your list.
  • If you have a garden try to get outside — maybe have a coffee out there or do that weeding that you never normally have the time (or inclination) to do. If you don’t have outside space, open the windows and try to get out to do your once a day exercise (but remember to practice social distancing). Fresh air and Vitamin D are vital for staying healthy.
  • Exercise is a good way of burning off some unspent energy, as well as keeping you fighting fit. There are lots of online home workouts available that can be done with no equipment and in limited space.
  • Try to limit your exposure to the news and other information updates about coronavirus. It’s human nature to want to find out as much info as possible but this can lead to more anxiety and panic. If curiosity gets the better of you and you desperately need to know more, just make sure you don’t watch or read the news straight before bed; your brain will be trying to process the info long after lights out and this is a sure-fire route to a sleepless night.
  • Get the sleep you need to function — this is vital for both physical and mental health.
  • Eat as healthily as you can and stay hydrated — and it’s probably wise to try to limit the amount of alcohol you drink too…
  • ·Keep your mind busy. If you have downtime, maybe you can use this enforced period at home to learn a new skill?
  • Relax. Take some time to watch a film, read a book or host a virtual meet up with friends.
  • Finally, try to use this break in normality and the slower pace of life as an opportunity to get back to basics and spend more time with your nearest and dearest. A leisurely meal together, a longer conversation, or a hug (even if only virtual) can make all the difference when you’ve had a rough day.
There are lots of resources available for those who might be feeling overwhelmed at the moment. The NHS site has a list of helplines you can contact depending on your mental health issue
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/
 
and the mental health charity, Mind, provides information and support on their website too: https://www.mind.org.uk/.
 
Stay safe and look after yourself. Remember, we’re all in this together.