Mental health:
Managing your own and supporting others during COVID 19

Some useful tips from Jess Barnard — full article as a PDF here.

  1. Structure your day

As more of the UK are social distancing and self-isolating, this means many more of our hours are going to be spent at home which if not structured can spiral, affecting our motivation, our sleep patterns and our overall mental health.

Establishing a daily structure and daily routines can be really helpful. It’s important to try to make this as similar to your normal day as possible if you can, but make sure you set realistic targets for yourself.

Where possible, work away from your sleep space, this will help to create some healthy boundaries between you and your work.

There are loads of helpful guidelines online for establishing a routine and help with sleep:.

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/sleep-problems/sleep-problems/#EstablishARoutine

  1. Get outside!

Try to make use of your daily outdoor exercise allowance. Even if you are someone who likes to stay indoors, it’s easy to underestimate the little trips we make throughout the week and the positive impact they have on our wellbeing. A little bit of exercise when you feel able to will help your body to release endorphins and dopamine, helping to regulate your mood. This doesn’t mean you have to put yourself through a gruelling 10 mile hike each day, make it work for you but try to schedule it in.

  1. Manage how much information you take in

Limit how much information you are taking in about the situation, creating boundaries such as muting certain words on twitter, or setting yourself timeframes for updates can help. It’s good to talk about setting these boundaries with your friends and family, tell them you would find it really helpful if they didn’t DM you about the situation all throughout the day. Instead let them know you would rather check in on how they are or your shared interests.

  1. Reach out, talk about how you are feeling.

You’re either going to be spending a lot more time on your own or a lot more time with housemates, friends, colleagues and family members which can come with its own problems. So make sure you reach out and talk to the people you want to keep in touch with.

While it can be difficult, it helps to tell people when you aren’t OK and equips them to better support you. The likeliness is that the other person has felt like that too, but it manifests in different ways for each of us. It is going to be a testing time for many of us, and tackling isolation and showing solidarity with each other is going to be essential.

  1. Get creative

There have already been some excellent long distant social ideas to combat the isolation of COVID-19. Zoom pub visits, house party, twitter art competitions. If you can think of it, it probably can be done.

  1. Take action in your community.

Helplessness can be an overwhelming feeling and taking action in your community or in a cause you care about can help to combat this. There are lots of opportunities to show community solidarity at this time

  1. Know when to say no.

Over the coming months it’s likely that you will at some point feel pushed to your limited, burnt out and anxious. If you aren’t feeling up to face-timing your friends today and you need to stay in bed – tell yourself that it’s ok. Practice being kind to yourself, recognising when it’s time to focus on your own well-being and doing what you need to do to get through the day. Keep an eye on the balance between helping others, and not letting yourself burnout.

  1. Don’t let your boss take over your life

Working from home does not mean you need to be available at all hours of the day, 7 days a week or expected ‘just to finish that thing off’ before you clock off. If you are expected to work from home, maintain your work life boundaries, finish work when you are due to finish and put the work away.

If you are struggling with your rights at work make sure you seek advice from your trade union. If you aren’t in a trade union yet, don’t put it off any longer. Find the right trade union for you and sign up: https://www.tuc.org.uk/join-union

  1. There are lots of places for further support, including apps for you to use each day.

Some helpful links:

  1. Join us in campaigning for properly funded mental health services!

A useful guide about improving mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic from https://www.rehab4addiction.co.uk/

Jess Barnard
Jess Barnard
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