By Becky Weaver
Right now, it’s hard to predict where we’ll be in three weeks’ time. As I’m typing this from my makeshift office in my parents’ home in Shropshire, the UK – and the world – is slowly coming to a standstill.
None of us saw COVID-19 coming, nor did any of us believe that it would ever get to the point where we’re all restricted in how many times we can leave our homes in each day, and the sheer urgency of how many lives the virus is affecting daily. While I’m used to working for the comfort of my own home (see my previous post for details on that) the impact that both social distancing and, quite frankly, this entire situation is having on my mental health is unavoidable… and I’m not alone.
We’re living through a situation that has never happened before; not a person alive today has experienced anything like this, so it would be foolish of anyone to admit that they didn’t feel some sort of anxiety, worry or panic during a global pandemic. But there are ways that we can keep our mental health in check during these strange and uncertain times.
With everything that’s going on right now, we need to remember one of the core things: we’re all going through this together, and as Albus Dumbledore once said: “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.” So, I’m here to hopefully shine a light on ways to keep your mental health in check until we can get back to normality.
Keep in touch with your friends, family and colleagues
Admittedly, I’m kicking with one of the most obvious tips, but I cannot stress to you enough just how important it is to touch base with the people in your life every day.
We’re extremely lucky to live in a time where keeping in touch with our nearest and dearest is an easy task – God bless social media. We’re not even a seven days into our three-week (minimum) lockdown and yet I’ve found myself on more Google Hangouts, Zoom conferences and Houseparty chats with my pals than ever before.
At EAST VILLAGE. we’re all social butterflies, jumping on and off calls with each other for our daily office chats and speaking to our wonderful clients. But it’s strange to think that it has taken a global pandemic to encourage some of us pick up our phones and call that friend that we may not have contacted for months to make sure they’re doing ok – I’m as guilty for it as anyone else.
That being said, I’ve seen some incredible things across social media this past week; streets creating group chats so that they can help someone out if they’re self-isolating, help cards being posted to vulnerable residents. Communities are coming together like never before, and it’s heart-warming to see the effect that it’s having. Kindness will take us a long way in these challenging times, let’s not forget that when all this is over.
Equally, if you’re able to go that little bit further, you can now sign up to become an NHS Volunteer Responder, which allows you to help out vulnerable people in your area by either picking up and dropping off shopping, collection medication, driving to the hospital or simply giving them a call to check-in and see how they are. Click here to find out more about that.
Give yourself a break from the news
It goes without saying that the news is pretty scary at the moment. I, like many others, was left feeling very frightened and uneasy following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday evening. And while it’s important to keep a tab on what’s going on to ensure that we’re all doing what’s needed to help this end quicker, we shouldn’t feel guilty for stepping back from the hourly bulletins that are often leaving us feeling overwhelmed.
Make sure you’re taking breaks from your phone and social media; I’ve decided to check the news first thing before starting work and then stepping back until the daily briefing each day, and it has done wonders for my mind!
Keep a daily routine and stick to it
This is something that I touched on in my working from home post but making sure that you have a daily routine is key to keeping your mental health in a good space.
Set aside time to exercise; we may have been restricted in the amount of time that we can spend outside, but head out for a walk if you can or jump on The Body Coach bandwagon and join his daily PE workout every morning. They’re designed for children, but that doesn’t mean it won’t get your heart rate up and calories burning!
Do not be fooled in thinking this is the perfect chance to have extra time in bed and stay working in your PJ’s all day. Set an alarm, get up, showered, dressed and pop on some make-up if you wish – whatever your normal routine is – use your time wisely… this isn’t a holiday.
Tune in to the radio or listen to a podcast
Being in self-isolation and confined to four walls of your home can leave you feeling very disconnected, leading the way for further and more serious mental health problems to develop.
While I’m lucky to be living in a home with two other people, I’m having to social distance due to high-risk cases within my household. Equally, I’m aware that thousands of people live alone and are therefore having to make their way through this time without company.
Radio One has been incredible these past few weeks; providing uplifting content including a virtual pub, a daily quiz and even games of rock-paper-scissors on Greg James’ Breakfast show. Many people find comfort in listening to the radio, I know I have. So, stick on a station of your choice, I can guarantee it’ll lift your spirits.
Ok, confession, I’m a huge George Ezra fan. Just ask the rest of the team how often I bang on about him. He recently released a mental health podcast with his pal Ollie McKendrickness and it’s really worth a listen.
Placed on the New and Noteworthy releases, Phone a Friend comes out every Monday, where George and Ollie give each other a call to discuss how their week’s been – it’s as simple as that. This past Monday’s (March 23) episode is all about coping with your mental health during self-isolation and is filled with super-useful. Click here to give it a listen.
Finally, if you feel like you’re struggling with your mental health due to the effects of covid-19, there are some amazing resources that can help you:
Samaritans – website :: www.samaritans.org // free phone :: 116 123
Mind – website :: www.mind.org.uk // phone :: 0300 123 3393
Papyrus – website :: www.papyrus-uk.org // phone :: 0800 068 4141
Stay safe, stay at home.