At a time when we’re all doing our best to take care of our physical health and the health of others by self-isolating, it’s important not to neglect our mental health.
Personally, the idea of cutting off social contact, not going to work or uni, not being able to see my friends or visit family fills me with anxiety and dread. But since it seems like self-isolating (or at the very least some serious social distancing) is looking necassary, it’s useful to think of some ways we can protect our mental health whilst we’re stuck at home.
Keep up with your routine
I cannot stress how important this first step is. Staying at home, its tempting to abandon the early mornings and sleep till noon every day, and that’s fine, to a certain extent, but if you’re anything like me you’re eventually going to slump. Try to make sure you wake up and go to bed at a similar (early-ish) time each day, set aside time for work and exercise etc. Just because you’re staying in one place, doesn’t mean you have to abandon all the things you’d usually do.
Think about it: all this extra time to absolutely ace your dissertation. Okay, so no one is really going to listen to that advice. But really, when you haven’t got much else on, the best thing you can do is keep on top of work, assignments and all those boring things you’d usually be putting off – might as well put the self-isolating time to good use!
That said, spending more time at home means you have time to do things you wouldn’t usually, whether that’s indoor hobbies like painting or writing, re-reading your favourite books, finally finishing Sex Education on Netflix, or even simple stuff like having time to take a bath instead of a shower. Use the time to slow down a bit.
Obviously, all the advice in the world about washing your hands, taking vitamins and disinifecting frequently touched surfaces applies. But whilst we’re busy singing Happy Birthday over the sink, its important to remember other types of health. Now that you can’t go to the gym, try looking up home work outs on YouTube, online yoga classes, or (my personal fave) taking ten minutes away from your laptop for a dance break. Exercise is key for maintaining positive mental health! Also key is a healthy diet, so try to keep up with your fruit and veg intake and drink lots of water (this means not getting Deliveroo for every. single. meal). Lastly, whilst you might not be able to go outside, remember that fresh air and sunlight are hugely important – draw back the curtains and open a window.
If you’re feeling poorly, check out the NHS guidelines for what to do.
This is a big one for me. I’ve been self-isolating as a precautionary measure for a day, and the thought of not being able to go visit my best friend or my grandparents is already driving me mad with anxiety. In times like these, we fall back onto our old friend technology. Skype, FaceTime, text, or even pick up the phone and go for an old fashioned phone call. If you’re feeling isolated and don’t have anyone else to talk to, you can also reach out to services like Crisis text line and other helplines.
Limit your news intake
The news right now is one of the scariest things ever – and I’m no expert in science or medicine so don’t take my word for it, but I’m pretty sure the news is making me feel a lot more panicked than the situation actually warants. It’s important to keep yourself informed, but do it on your terms. For example, I’ve switched off news notifications on my phone, and try to only watch the news once a day.
Be mindful of others
- Don’t be racist.
- Don’t make unecassary trips just because you enjoy your freedom. You might be sure that you’ll be fine, but its really not fair to pass on the virus to people in higher risk groups.
- Consider people who are in a worse situation than you. Not everyone can afford to work at home or stock pile loo roll. Lots of us are in a very fortunate situation and its important that we’re aware of that privelege.
- Remember to call and check in on friends and family who are also self isolating – they’re probably feeling lonely too!
Please, please, try not to panic
I get it. It’s a seriously stressful time for absolutely everyone. Self-isolating is not much fun. Anxiety levels are high, and no one really knows what’s going on. But we will get through it. For some reassurance, familiarise yourself with recovery statistics (they’re high!) and stay connected with your loved ones. Also remind yourself, that as far as sacrifices for the greater good go, staying on the sofa and watching Netflix is a pretty good deal.