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Coronavirus: looking after your mental health

Amidst ongoing developments around the outbreak of COVID-19, it’s inevitable that many of us will be feeling confused and unsure of what the future holds.

This uncertainty may lead to us feeling anxious or distressed. While this is understandable, there are a number of things you can do to reduce these feelings and stay on top of your mental health.

Read the latest guidance on coronavirus from the NHS

Here are some key tips:

1. Limit your news intake

With coronavirus updates coming in regularly, it’s easy to get caught up in reading or watching the news, or feel that you should be staying in the know. 

While it’s important to keep an eye on official guidance, it’s also important to switch off if you feel that too much reading, watching or listening to the news is taking its toll.

Stick to official sources for advice, i.e. the government, the NHS, and the World Health Organisation (WHO), and set specific times in the day to check these sources. Turn off any news notifications on your phone so you’re not feeling overwhelmed – the constant influx of updates can cause of a sense of panic.

Ensuring that you’re only getting the important facts can help to reduce the sense of a lack of control.

2. Take social media breaks

Misinformation can spread quickly on social media. Even though it can be a useful tool to connect with others, it can also be used to amp up hysteria.

If using social media to source information on coronavirus, only use official pages and accounts. Avoid clicking on coronavirus hashtags, engaging with rumours or unofficial guidance, and take steps to mute or unfollow accounts that are causing you distress.

It can also be a good idea to take time out of your day away from social media, whether this be to do something creative, exercise or read a book.

3. Do good

We know that there’s a connection between helping others and maintaining our own positive wellbeing.

In a time where vulnerable people may need assistance with everyday tasks such as getting their shopping, we can help to retain positivity by helping others.

If you’re unable to leave your place of residence, you can do good simply by checking in on a loved one, colleague or neighbour by phone or email.

4. Share good 

If you are using social media, spend time reading some positive news stories of people who have recovered, or who are coming together to make a difference. There’s a lot out there.

Share them on your platforms and help others to feel hopeful.

5. Stay connected

Over coming months, it will be necessary to engage in “social distancing”, which means you may not see your social connections face to face as we all avoid gatherings at restaurants, cinemas and theatres.

This doesn’t mean the end of your social life. Agree to phone, text, or FaceTime your loved ones throughout the day so you can check in with each other and retain normality.

6. Be one with nature

If you can access nature, it’s recommended you do so. Whether this be through your garden, exercising outdoors if it’s safe to do so, having flowers and house plants around you, or something as simple as listening to the birds through an open window.

Connectedness with nature and the outside world can help to boost our mood and feel more connected.

7. Keep up healthy habits 

There are a number of healthy habits that you should keep up with in order to stay on top of your wellbeing. Getting enough sleep, maintaining a routine, eating healthily, exercising regularly and drinking plenty of water are all day-to-day ways of staying mentally healthy.

8. Try something new

 If you’re feeling on edge about what is happening with coronavirus, it would be beneficial to have an activity or two to distract yourself and help you relax. This could be a hobby such as painting or writing, or you could try something new entirely.

How about learning to sew, doing puzzles or dancing? 

Read the latest guidance on coronavirus from the NHS