It is currently Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, and therefore the perfect time to highlight some of the ways in which we can nurture our mental wellness while in quarantine.
The current Covid-19 pandemic has presented us with a multitude of obstacles. Not only are we having to adapt to logistical issues, such as working remotely and home-schooling, but it seems that our social lives have come to a drastic halt. It is fair to say that the prospect of being confined to our homes because of quarantine is daunting, and our mental health is particularly vulnerable during this period.
Many of our ‘outlets’ have disappeared in a cloud of Covid-19 smoke. Be it weekly drinks with friends, playing football, going for a coffee, or meeting a loved one, all of which would have previously served as an opportunity to unwind. On top of this, the relentless flow of panic-stricken news from the media adds fuel to the fire with regards to mental health. It is therefore not surprising that this unprecedented situation is overwhelming for many people, and is triggering illnesses such as anxiety and depression.
Below are some suggestions of ways in which we can look after our mental health:
While quarantine may only be temporary, even brief periods of isolation and loneliness can negatively affect a person’s physical and mental wellbeing. Therefore, it is important to stay occupied during this time.
Now’s the time to indulge in those novels you were gifted for Christmas, or take that online course you never got around to doing. And of course, it’s the time to polish off your baking skills with endless banana bread! Activities such as these provide a form of escapism during this distressing time, and ultimately bring families together while they are stuck at home.
Alternatively, you may like to use quarantine as a means of progressing your fitness levels. Once we have finished eating our banana bread, we can browse the endless workout videos on YouTube to keep us occupied, or download Couch to 5K and try our luck at running. It has been proven that exercise helps our brains release serotonin, the happy hormone, which can be a great weapon in tackling things such as depression and anxiety.
Check in with Others
Due to the spread of Covid-19, face-to-face contact has drastically decreased. Many people are now working from home, and have had to adjust to a more virtual world, which can feel incredibly isolating. It can make us feel detached from reality and creates a loss of structure. Our contact with friends and family has also been limited. Many people have endured months of sheltering with no physical contact from loved ones.
So be kind, and check in with your colleagues, friends and family – especially the ones who may not be tech-savvy and so might be finding this period particularly stressful. We must find creative ways to look out for one another.
Staying in contact with others not only staves off boredom, but is also critical to minimising the sense of isolation. Stay in touch with friends and family via phone calls, text messages, or video calls. Make sure to reach out to the people who care about you if you are struggling with your mental health. Talking to others about how you are feeling can be a great form of release.
Keep a Routine
One of the most effective ways we can protect our mental health is by maintaining a routine in our day-to-day lives. Routine provides us with stability and secureness in a world that otherwise feels like chaos. While our usual routines have been thrown into disarray, it is helpful to establish new ones.
Practice waking up early, as you usually would for work, from Monday-Friday, and go to bed at a reasonable hour in order to maintain your sleeping pattern. Having 3 set meals a day can also assist in creating structure. The regular pit-stops within your day generate a feeling of control, which is crucial in addressing anxiety and depression.
It is also important to have something to look forward to. Schedule a weekly call with a friend, or organise a socially-distanced walk in the park with a loved one every weekend. The small glimmers of happiness in these uncertain times are crucial to our mental wellness.
Take a Breather
Repeatedly hearing about the pandemic can be upsetting. So, it is important to take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to the news. Take care and listen to your body; try to eat well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. Schedule in time to unwind by doing activities you enjoy.
It is also crucial to take a breather from work. Many individuals have found that their workload has actually increased dramatically during the pandemic, even if working from home. Even though we are in quarantine, consider booking some annual leave. This will enable you to have some well-deserved time away from your laptop and allow you to switch off for a while.
Parents having to look after children in quarantine are also in need of a breather. It is imperative that parents have some time for themselves each day – even though that is much easier said than done. It has been suggested that parents could set their alarms and wake up before their children (even though this may be incredibly early). This will allow you to have an hour to yourself before the madness begins. You could make some breakfast, have a coffee, and maybe even practice some yoga, all before your little ones have started the day. Allowing yourself the time to connect with yourself each day will significantly aid your mental health.
Remember why you are doing this
When you are feeling frustrated and cooped up, it can be helpful to remember why you are doing this. If you have been exposed to coronavirus, avoiding others helps to minimise the chance that you will unknowingly spread the illness. By doing your part to prevent the spread of the virus, you are protecting others and making sure that those who are sick can have greater access to health resources. Reminding yourself of these reasons can make your days in quarantine easier to bear.
If you are struggling with your mental health during this time, please remember that you are strong, and that you are not alone. GP surgeries are still open for business around the UK, and doctors still want to provide assistance to patients who are in need of extra support. So do not hesitate to reach out.