Mental health, Isolation and Covid 19 – Some advice

So here we all are, in strange and somewhat worrying times. Never before has the World had to come together as one and fight the pandemic Covid 19. We may lose friends and family to this, but the social distancing and staying at home is helping – NHS staff and other keyworkers continue to inspire, and perform their roles to their best abilities.

Although the statistics rise daily, we can now see trends in other countries where the numbers are decreasing over time, and this should give us all much hope. We will see this through.

We have been asked to stay at home to help confine the spread of Covid 19. It’s not a huge ask when you consider what frontline workers, supermarket workers and other essential service workers are being asked to do. Staying at home seems easy in comparison, but as the weeks go on, some may struggle.

Being isolated from society, from your usual daily routine and your friends and family may have an impact on your mental health. It’s important to remember that these are temporary measures that are in place for the greater good.

We thought it might be helpful to mention some ways to make isolation easier to endure.

If you have children – Home school them to the best of your abilities. Remember though, you are not a qualified teacher, so don’t stress if you find home-schooling difficult. If your children are older, they may be able to call on their peers to help them with challenging topics and thre are many free online resources that will help such as BBC Bitesize and Maths Genie – you may even learn too!

Remember also that younger children don’t just benefit from school-based education. If you’re struggling with schoolwork, try to encompass other basic life skills into the day like tying shoelaces could be a worthwhile teaching experience for your child. Simple board games like snakes and ladders that use basic counting skills could be valuable for your child and fun too, whilst doing an age appropriate jigsaw puzzle together is fun and may promote fine motor kills too.

If your partner is also staying at home, try to share the load. You may be brilliant at English, but not so great at maths. Divide and conquer – your partner might be able to better understand the teaching. Also, you shouldn’t have to shoulder the burden on your own – we are all in this together.

This is a time to spend some amazing uninterrupted time with your children, cherish it. Try to always remain calm and strong in front of them. This is a strange time for children too, they need to look at their parents and come away with confidence.

Social Media – We are fortunate to have the internet and social media available to us. Can you imagine having to do this without either? However, too much of a good thing has repercussions. Social Media is one such example and should be treated with caution.

For many, it’s a great place to connect with friends but the social networking sites are also open to negative comments and the spread of incorrect stats and news. Try to limit your time on social media. Your immediate family are right in front of you, talk to them instead. Take your information from a trusted news source.

The News – Limit just how much news you watch daily. The World is suffering right now and a constant reminder of this will not help. Age-appropriate news can be viewed by children; ITV has just started a special news channel aimed at children, so there is an appropriate channel for everyone.

Be Social – Talk to the people you miss on a regular basis. You can do this by phoning as and when you want to. Throwing in video makes for a better experience though. Getting a group of your friends together for a video chat is therapy. Why not go the extra mile and have a virtual dinner party?

Just to repeat; Talk to the people you miss on a regular basis, especially if you have friends and family who may be self-isolating alone.  This is important for your own mental well-being, and theirs too.

Exercise – This is vital to maintain better mental health. Daily exercise will help you to clear the cobwebs, to kill some time and to feel better about yourself. Do this by yourself or call In Joe Wicks to help with the children. If you do not want to venture outside at all, you can still exercise aerobically and there are some great tutorials on YouTube. It’s important to do something you enjoy.

Routine – This can be especially difficult right now. If you are normally up early and away for work, what are you doing these mornings? Chances are, it seems more like a weekend morning every day. Maybe try to come up with a new, attainable routine. Instead of your normal 07.00 alarm, set it for 09.00 and start your day then instead of still being in bed with your children at 11.00 perhaps.

Our current situation is not a punishment and we need to give ourselves these small wins as often as possible. By keeping to a routine that you can stick to, your day will run smoother, more will be accomplished, and you will feel better about yourself. A routine is also important for the well-being of your children.

Alcohol – As above, it isn’t the weekend every day. It’s all too easy to open a bottle or have a couple of beers but this cannot be sustained every night. Try to adjust to the situation sensibly and be very mindful of your alcohol intake.

Alcohol’s negative effect on mental health has been well correlated, so please drink responsibly. You should also aim to have three consecutive alcohol-free days each week.

Diet – Watching what you eat is obviously important right now. Your limited access to shops should have changed how you plan what should be eaten daily and weekly. Each item in your fridge has a use buy date, and this is more important than ever. We should not be wasting food at this time, so plan well.

Your overall diet should be healthy, but again, allow yourself some small wins. Baking with your children is a great way to spend time, educate and get (hopefully) a nice treat at the end. Missing your southern fried chicken or a favourite restaurant meal? Get googling – the ‘secret’ recipe is out there!

Try Something New – If there is one thing we have, it’s time. It could be a great time to push yourself. Trying something that you haven’t done before may give you a sense of accomplishment. Knitting, sketching, poetry, a new language… Why not?

This also doesn’t have to be anything too taxing? You have never watched Game of Thrones? Now’s your chance!

Be MindfulMerriam-Webster defines mindfulness as “the practice of maintaining a non-judgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.”

What this means basically is being in the moment, not allowing your mind to lose focus. We are where we are and it is important to acknowledge that, to accept that. There are some really good apps that you might want to try to help with mindfulness and mental well-being..

Congratulate yourself for each step, each day. Be thankful for anything that you can.

Focus On Positives – It’s important to do this as often as you can, for your own mental health but also for those around you right now. We cannot do anything about someone else’s suffering so don’t focus on that, where possible. It may sound too easy in practice, and there are some challenging times ahead for all of us but seek out the brightness wherever it may be.

Stay at home, to save lives and by doing so supporting the NHS.

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