My Top Tips for looking after your mental health in isolation.
This is such a strange and worrying time for a lot of us - our lives have been flipped upside down in a matter of weeks so it's so important that we must make sure that we don’t forget to look after our mental health as well, now more than ever. Make sure you are taking the time to care for yourself to avoid feeling overwhelmed and anxious about the current situation. These are my top tips for looking after your mental health in isolation.
1. Stay connected
It can be easy to feel quite lonely at this time - even if you’re in a house full of people, missing your friends and other family members is natural and likely to happen. Try and stay connected with them as much as possible - just because we’re physically isolated doesn’t mean we have to be emotionally too. I’ve found video chats to be a brilliant life-saver at this time, just having that extra bit of connection with people, being able to see them and have a conversation that’s not over text-message! Share what you’ve been getting up to with each other - try and find something other than the news to talk about!
2. Remember your feelings are valid!
Always remember that your feelings are valid, and never let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s natural to feel upset and overwhelmed, tired, anxious, fed up, and it’s really okay. But if you feel any negative emotion start to heavily affect your mood on a daily basis, please don’t suffer in silence. Reach out to people you trust and feel comfortable talking to in your life. If you’re not sure who to speak to, try contacting a helpline e.g. the samaritans or a charity crisis number. Just please don’t suffer in silence - current events don’t change the importance of taking care of your emotional health, so don’t put yourself down or feel that you shouldn't be feeling a certain way. It’s okay to not be okay. Keep making mental health a part of your everyday conversations.
3. Create some structure.
This can be really tough - I struggled with it a lot in the first few weeks because I didn’t have any sort of daily routine which I was so used to. I've created a time-table as a rough guide to how I can structure each of my days, and try and make them as productive as possible so that I feel they are still worthwhile. We might not have the same resources but we can use what we’ve got as best as we can to give ourselves activities to do and something to follow. Try and define the days as much as possible - give each day something different to focus on rather than making them all the same, I’ve found this to help with feeling a slight sense of normality just a little bit - and remembering the days of the week!
If you're working from home, try to work away from areas of comfort, e.g. a living room or bedroom, find a nice quiet area with a good working space for you to focus. It can also help to share your daily schedules with other people in your house, particularly family members, so that everyone knows when people are working and need to focus on a task - this helps to avoid getting distracted too because you know no one's going to interrupt your work.
4. Avoid falling into an endless social media spiral.
It feels like we’ve got a lot more time on our hands, and without anyone or anything stopping us constantly being on our phones it can be so easy to find yourself picking it up to scroll through social media far more times in a day than you need to! I’ve found myself looking at the same posts three times in a day because i’ve picked up my phone so many times! Social media is a great way to keep connected and keep up with what’s going on, but try and be aware of how much time you are spending online in a day, not only because you need a break from it all, but because it can also be really harmful for your mental health and can affect living patterns such as your sleep - we all need to be getting good sleep at the moment so really try not to look at your phone too much before you go to sleep. Set some limits on the time you spend online.
5. Don’t put pressure on yourself.
It's easy for us to think that this is the time to try and achieve great things that we can from our homes now that we’ve got the time to, and that’s great if you feel up for it. But after speaking to someone recently, I learnt that this isn’t the time for us to put pressure on ourselves to achieve these massive goals that we have. Setting some goals is a great thing to do and I think it’s really important to work towards something, but try to break it down. Take it in small steps and work towards a bigger picture , because trying to do a whole thing at once can lead to us becoming frustrated and overwhelmed. This is the perfect time for us all to take a step back and have a few more peaceful relaxing moments than we might get in our usual day-to-day lives. Take things slowly and don’t try too hard to achieve the great things you feel you need to. Spend time with your families, watch some films you missed out on, read some books, paint a picture, find new ways to express yourself. Just take it slowly, give yourself time to breathe.
There are gonna be so many blogs over the next month on a range on topics - if you have got any in particular that you would like me to cover or that you would like to guest blog about, please let me know using the contact form at the bottom of this page. I always love hearing from readers and open the opportunity to write for this site to anyone with a positive message.
Stay safe everyone.
If you feel like you need some more support or someone to talk to please note the support lines at the below - they will be more than happy to have a chat and help with what they can.
The Samaritans: Website: https://www.samaritans.org/
Number: 116 123
Childline: Website: https://www.childline.org.uk/
Number: 0800 1111
SHOUT: Website: https://www.giveusashout.org/ - For support in a crisis.
Text SHOUT to 85258 (free)
The Mix: https://www.themix.org.uk/ - Support for under 25s.
YoungMinds crisis number: Text YM to 85258 (free)