Health and Wellbeing – COVID-19
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak may cause you to feel anxious, stressed, worried, sad, helpless, overwhelmed, confused or angry. It’s important to remember it is OK to feel these feelings and that everyone reacts differently to different events.
There are some simple things you can do to help you take care of your mental health and wellbeing during times of uncertainty – and doing so will help you think clearly and make sure you are able to look after yourself and those you care about.
There are many ways you can help improve your mental health and wellbeing if you are worried or anxious about the coronavirus outbreak. For specific tips and advice check out:
Stick to the facts
Often we – especially children and young people – are getting news and information from social media only, and – even worse – typing specifics into google which can be scary (and often untrue).
Don’t share info on social media unless it has been checked against trustworthy sources. Find a source you trust – such as GOV.UK or the NHS website – for information about risks so you can take sensible precautions.
Also remember to regularly assess your social media activity. Tune in with yourself and ask if they need to be adjusted. Are there particular accounts or people that are increasing your worry or anxiety? Consider muting or unfollowing accounts or hashtags that cause you to feel anxious.
There is extensive news coverage about the outbreak. If you find that the news is causing you huge stress, it’s important to find a balance. It’s best that you don’t avoid all news and that you keep informing and educating yourself, but limit your news intake if it is bothering you.
At times of stress, we work better in company and with support.
Try and keep in touch with your friends and family. If not face to face, then by telephone, facetime, message, email or social media.
Often it helps to watch more light hearted TV and tune in occasionally to live TV and radio (not news) to remind yourself that we are still OK, all at home doing the same and the world is still moving.
If we’re feeling worried, anxious or low, we sometimes stop doing things we usually enjoy. Focusing on your favourite hobby, learning something new or simply taking time to relax with others will help with anxious thoughts and feelings.
Try to make an active effort to do things you like.
Although you are inside, you can still have that glass of wine or that homemade curry, lemon drizzle cake and a coffee, and even start a whatsapp group or messenger/facetime session with a few friends and share this experience!
(Obviously whilst being aware of not increasing habits that may not be helpful in the long term, like smoking and drinking.)
Talk about how you feel, and support others to do the same
It’s normal to feel a bit worried, scared or helpless about the current situation. Remember: it is OK to share your concerns with others you trust – and doing so may help them too.
If you cannot speak to someone you know or if doing so has not helped, there are plenty of helplines you can try instead. There are links to all of these on the 2 websites I have mentioned, amongst others.
Try to think of things you can do to help those around you. Check in with friends, neighbours or colleagues who may be vulnerable or self-isolating and offer help or encouragement. Little things add up. Helping someone else can benefit you as well as them, so try to be a little more understanding of other people’s concerns, worries or behaviours at this time.
Try and reassure people you know who may be worried and check in with people who you know are living alone.
Involving our family and children in our plans for good health is essential. We need be alert to and ask children what they have heard about the outbreak and support them, without causing them alarm.
We need to minimise the negative impact it has on our children and explain the facts to them. Discuss the news with them but try and avoid over-exposure to coverage of the virus. Be as truthful as possible, but stay age appropriate. Again, there are links to help on the websites mentioned.
Stay in.. but stay in control
Rumour and speculation can fuel anxiety. Having access to good quality information about the virus can help you feel more in control.
Focusing on the present, rather than worrying about the future, can help with difficult emotions and improve our wellbeing. Relaxation techniques can also help some people deal with feelings of anxiety.
It is OK to feel like this – everyone reacts in their own way to challenging events and uncertainty. It’s important to remember that staying at home may be difficult, but you are helping to protect yourself and others by doing it – you are being pro-active.
This will mean that more of us will be spending a lot of time at home and many of our regular social activities will no longer be available to us. It will help to try and see it as a different period of time in your life, and not necessarily a bad one, even if you didn’t choose it.
If you are self-isolating, but feeling fine, it might actually (and we will appreciate this time we had to catch up in retrospect…) be a chance to clear out the loft, read the book you have been desperate to start, writing that blog, or sort all those photos out! The list is endless…. We like our routines, but a chance to step outside of this is sometimes a good thing; break bad habits, start new good habits and remember this is a temporary pause…. we are all in the same boat (some are in even worse boats), we are in it together and will come out of it.
Our physical health has a big impact on how we feel. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water and exercise regularly.
- Stress management – eg: there are lots of techniques on line, maybe connect with apps such Headspace, Reflectly and Calm
- Keep active – Maybe you can take a walk, walk around the garden and fill your lungs with fresh air, try the kids’ trampoline out! Maybe you are finally getting time to dig that fitness DVD out! Or follow youtube fitness guides.
- Eat a balanced diet
Make sure your wider health needs are being looked after such as having enough prescription medicines available to you.
Check Gov.uk at any time for up to date info, but if you are socially distancing and washing your hands to avoid infection – you are keeping your chance of infection to a minimum.
Video and visual guide to washing your hands correctly are here:
Experts are making breakthroughs daily with getting to know this virus, research is taking place in many, many countries all over the word and some meds are even being used (ones we already use – anti viral and immune drugs, are being adapted and early results look good), most people – the vast majority – will get mild symptoms, and come out unscathed.
One wonders whether we will actually be able to learn from this moving forward – looking after the world, looking after (and actually crediting at last) our health and social care work force, and other professionals that we urgently rely on, Political standpoints actually connecting to real people and investing in all the things we all care about.
Look around at what we have and who we have in our lives… and as much as some of the media is focusing on those looking out for themselves, I – for one – would happily give my loaf of bread to an elderly person trying to shop, and I know you guys would too. Sometimes we even forget that our hearts are firmly in the right place.
I know many of you are out on the ‘frontline’ – unable to stay at home. I hope you can feel the love that the whole country is sending out to those keyworkers that are unable to stop working. You guys are stepping up and making the biggest difference, literally between life and death for a lot of people. This is when you come into your own, as tiring and stressful as it is, the country is aware of this. (Most of us are Not Going Out!!). This will mean investment too in the future in the NHS and people working within it will finally get valued as they always should have been. This time will pass, and in the meantime – focus ahead and plan the best holiday that you will have earned!
If you can stay at home; Use the time to have a bit of fun (when do we ever get a breather nowadays?!) Have a glass of wine or a hot chocolate at home, have a game with the family, watch that movie we have been wanting to, catch up on our coursework (haha) with a treat at hand, sort out the garage, be kind to ourselves.”