Daily life as we know it has fundamentally changed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. It is natural that people may feel uncertain, stressed and anxious during this unsettling time.
It is of the utmost importance that everyone prioritises mental and physical health in order to stay calm, weather this storm and fight the infection. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and the impact will be greatly eased by setting good habits and following healthy routines.
To optimise optimise mental and physical health, you need to ensure adequate amounts of the following:
- Nutritious foods
- Healthy fluids
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In addition, in the current uncertain climate, it is important to proactively take steps to protect and enhance your mental health. The good news is that small, simple measures can have a significant impact, including but not limited to the following:
1) Set a structure for your day – your brain will respond well to having a routine. Get up at the same time every day. Allocate portions of time for a balanced schedule of activities such as work, cleaning, chores, meals, exercise, communication with others, relaxation/hobbies and sleep. Follow government advice on restriction of your movements. Take practical steps to plan and prepare for how best to protect yourself and loved ones during the virus outbreak, eg ensure that you have access to food, medication and medical support, even if these need to be brought to you by others.
2) Use the time constructively – There are many ways to foster a sense of achievement, even when your movements are restricted. Examples may include working from home (create a defined work space if possible), home-schooling children, providing useful online content to help others, learning a new language, having a clearout (do not remove items from your house until safe to do so), undertaking projects that you have never gotten around to etc. This can be a truly productive time.
3) Feed your brain – As well as consuming healthy food and drinks, you must curate the content that you are consuming. Constant news watching can be unsettling and exhausting – limit this to reputable sources once or twice per day for updates. Excessive social media use, time online, or video gaming can detract from mental health, therefore set healthy limits for these activities…you could use an alarm to remind you to stop.
4) Feel good about saving lives – Any time you feel restricted or cooped up, acknowledge that you really are saving lives by social distancing and preventing further spread of the virus.
5) Exercise – Help your mind and body by exercising wherever possible, even indoors. There are many excellent online resources, classes and videos. If exercising outside, be sure to maintain social distancing.
6) Support others – as well helping someone else, this will help you to feel good, eg check-in by phone with neighbours who may need help.
7) Communicate – Stay in touch with family and friends remotely via phone and digital methods – these are great ways of providing and receiving support. This should help to dispel any feelings of loneliness or isolation. It could be an excellent time to strengthen your relationships and social network.
8) Relaxation and fun – These are extremely important in optimising your mental health. It can be helpful to change into different clothes to demarcate relation time. You could spend time on your hobbies, try something new, do crafts, play board games, sing, dance to music, meditate, unwind with a relaxing yoga video, paint, read an interesting book, listen to a podcast, watch a box set etc
9) Sleep – Always prioritise a good night’s sleep – sleep is essential for your mind and your body and has many important functions including helping you to feel well and combat infections.
10) Further coping mechanisms – Avoid using alcohol, smoking or drugs as coping mechanisms as they will jeopardise your well-being in the long run. Headspace is a helpful App which can help people to meditate and reflect on their difficulties. Is easily accessible online or through a smartphone.
During times of stress, it is important that you pay attention to your own needs and feelings. If you are becoming overwhelmed with stress, anxiety, depression or are concerned about other mental health issues we are here to help. The Walcote Practice offers bespoke supportive consultations with a private GP who has expertise in optimising mental health. Consultations are available by video or by telephone. To book an appointment please call 01962 828715 or email firstname.lastname@example.org