Four steps to protect your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic
PUBLISHED: 15:26 16 March 2020 | UPDATED: 15:58 16 March 2020
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The ever-worsening coronavirus pandemic has left us all battling uncertainty and worry. But what steps can you take to protect your mental health during the outbreak? Here’s some advice...
While the current torrent of news about the virus, which has claimed more than 30 lives in the UK already, will promote concern among most of the population, that could be even worse for those with existing mental health issues.
And, with many people now working from home or self-isolating, it’s important to consider your peace of mind going forward.
To that end, Suffolk Mind are sharing an infographic with advice about looking after your emotional needs and wellbeing during the pandemic.
1) Security and control
Wash your hands regularly – remember the 20 second rule – while ensuring your keep surfaces clean.
Make and keep a routine to help you, making a list if that’s helpful.
Remind yourself as often as you need to that you have done all that you can with the information that you have.
2) Emotional connection
While you may not be able to meet up with friends and family during the pandemic, make sure that you stay in touch via phone, and e-mail.
Consider using video calling and setting up group chats to enhance your interactions.
While many people will have more privacy then perhaps they are used to, those isolated in a house full of friends and family should agree a space where you can be alone.
Limit your screen time too, and only visit sites which are reliable sources of expert government advice. Avoid media outlets and second-hand sources of information which sensationalise. Anything which drives up worry compromises the immune system.
4) Meaning and purpose
With more time on your hands in many cases, make sure you use that time doing something you enjoy – be it reading, gardening, cooking or writing.
Also, now could be the time to consider new hobbies - consider online courses, for example.
Ezra Hewing, Head of Mental Health Education at Suffolk Mind said: “Mental and physical health depends upon meeting emotional needs in healthy ways. This keeps stress levels low and allows our immune system to fight back and work to promote recovery from illness.
“Meeting emotional needs if we are socially isolated is challenging, and even more so if we are concerned about virus infection.”
Suffolk Mind are also offering an online blog for those worried about the virus and their mental health.
As well as the above advice, the World Health Organisation advises that you take social media breaks and mute triggering things, plus try to avoid burnout by continuing to access nature and sunlight.