The coronavirus outbreak has changed all of our lives – and had a significant impact on mental health. We’ve already outlined some of the things you might be going through at the moment – not being able to go outside for days at a time, decreased contact with friends and family, higher exposure to the news, loss of earnings or work opportunities.
Coronavirus and mental health
There are lots of ways coronavirus could be impacting how you’re feeling.
You might be missing family, struggling without support networks, or wishing you could get outside more. And with 24 hour rolling news channels and social media, it can be extremely hard to switch off.
We’ve put together some resources below on how you can manage your mental health during this period. If you have any particular coping strategies or tips that you’d like to share with us, or a topic you want to see us cover, get in touch with Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With such upheaval, it’s likely that your normal routine has gone out of the window. Trying to establish some kind of routine may mitigate some of this.
- The Mental Health Foundation suggests planning your day in advance. Try to get up at the same time you normally would, and specifically schedule in certain things. Know when you’re going to shower, set aside time to go outside and exercise (even a walk is great), and time for relaxation.
- Going outside may make you feel better. If you have a garden, try to spend time in that: you are also allowed to go for one walk a day, which we highly recommend you do if you can. If you can’t, open a window in your flat and try to get some fresh air and sunlight.
- Moving your body will also help. A once a day walk is a good start, as is going for a run or cycle ride. If you have to stay indoors, you can still move your body! There are plenty of online exercise videos if you want to do something like aerobics, and yoga and pilates classes are available on YouTube – Yoga With Adriene even has yoga for wheelchair users or those who have limited mobility. Just dancing around the room can make you feel good, or going for a gentle walk in a garden or outdoor space if you can.
- Monitor your sleep. Many people will be having difficult sleeping at the moment due to changes in routine, lack of direct light, and moving around or exercising less. Going outside once a day can help with this or, as mentioned above, opening a window and getting some fresh air.There are also other things you can do to help your sleep. Get up and go to bed at the same time, establishing a proper routine. Try to keep electronics out of your bedroom if you can, and try not to look at your phone, laptop or TV for an hour or so before bed.
- Try to tune out of social media. It’s natural to want to keep up with what’s going on in the world. But compulsively checking social media can seriously impact your mental health, making you feel fearful and anxious. It can be difficult, especially if your phone is your line of communication with friends, family and the world, but setting short periods of time to be away from your phone can really help.
Making sure you’re well connected during this time can be a big help for your mental health.
You may find it helpful to:
- Regularly schedule calls with loved ones. This can be something as simple as a ten minute phone call every day, but you can schedule other activities. Netflix Party lets you watch films on Netflix with your friends, meaning you can chat and watch films or TV together even when apart. Some people have also been using Skype or Zoom to host trivia quizzes for friends and family. Staying connected is really important, so find out what works well for you.
- Join your local mutual aid group. Across the country, people have been teaming up to offer community support, help and advice to those in their area. They’re doing shopping for people, picking up medication, checking in on vulnerable people or offering moral support or just conversation.If you’re vulnerable, you may find these groups useful for helping you do shopping or access community support. And if you want to donate time or energy to helping your neighbours, you may find a feeling of solidarity and community. Find your local mutual aid group here.
- Join chats with activist or support groups. Alongside mutual aid groups, lots of activist groups have been organising to keep people connected. The Survivors Library, which creates and collects resources by, for, or about abuse and assault survivors, is hosting regular chats through April, and a group called Mad Covid is also acting as a community space to help people with mental illness or distress through the current situation.
- Keep in touch with mental health workers or carers. If they haven’t already been in contact, call or email support workers to see what support they can offer you. If you’re in therapy, check to see if your therapist can help you remotely. Many psychotherapists now offer online or telephone sessions – and while these may not work for you, they are worth trying.
We’ll be writing regular blogs over the next few weeks to help you cope with coronavirus. These will include posts on finances and money and on bereavement.