How to look after your mental health during lockdown

PUBLISHED: 11:40 25 April 2020 | UPDATED: 11:40 25 April 2020

Make sure you stay active.

Make sure you stay active.

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Mental health experts have come up with some tips to help people look after themselves during the pandemic.

Stay in touch with family and friends.Stay in touch with family and friends.

Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG) has teamed up with Bristol-based Talk Club – a mental health fitness movement which runs talking and listening clubs across Bristol – to offer some essential tips on how to stay healthy.

GP and clinical chair at the BNSSG CCG, Dr Jon Hayes said: “Looking after our mental health during the coronavirus outbreak is as important as looking after our physical health.

“While it’s essential that we stay at home to stop the virus from spreading and help our colleagues in health and care who are fighting the outbreak, being indoors and changing our usual routines can be challenging for our mental health.

“By following these tips from Talk Club, you can help to keep your mental health in shape and, if you need them, there are also lots of useful resources online where you can get support.”

My daily allowed walk took me to Ashcombe Park today, no crowds, couples, mums with kids and dog walkers.     Picture: MARK ATHERTONMy daily allowed walk took me to Ashcombe Park today, no crowds, couples, mums with kids and dog walkers. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Here Talk Club shares 10 ways to stay mentally fit during the outbreak:

Be positive: Surround yourself with positivity as much as possible including positive stories, music, films, podcasts as well as positive people by calling or connecting with them online. Try to avoid negative information in the news and on social media if it makes you feel anxious. Be kind to yourself by identifying what causes you anxiety and try to remove it where possible.

Stick to a routine.Stick to a routine.

Stay present: Talk Club asks members to grade their feelings out of 10 so if you wake up at 5 out of 10, how do you get yourself to a 6, to a 7, or an 8? Take little, achievable steps to improve your mood one number at a time. Don’t worry so much about the big things, the stuff you cannot control, just look at the little things you can.

Use your daily exercise allowance wisely: Go out and get fresh air. If possible, walk or run along somewhere with a nice view and smile at anyone you pass - just stay two metres apart. If you’ve never been for a run before, this could be the perfect opportunity to start.

If you are working and home-schooling, realise you cannot give 100 per cent to both at all times.If you are working and home-schooling, realise you cannot give 100 per cent to both at all times.

Try to maintain a routine of getting up, showered and dressed and go to bed at roughly the same time each day. Create some structure in your day. If you are working from home, arrange a meeting at 9am. Give yourself a ‘commute’, even if it’s a quick walk round the block or the garden. But be realistic and accept you may have to let some things go. If you’re trying to work from home and look after children, accept you can’t give both 100% of yourself all day.

Take time for yourself: If you are living with others, getting time apart is important. Take a bath, read a book, take your daily exercise alone, call a friend, do an online gym class, listen to a podcast. If you’re living alone, try to stay connected with the outside world as much as possible. Have an online chat with old friends, watch a home concert, join a new Facebook group - there’s lots of opportunities to do new and different things for free online at the moment.

Learn something new: Is there an opportunity to immerse yourself in something you never had time for before? Pick up that guitar, start that French online class or start meditating.

Change your expectations: You may not be able achieve all of the things you wanted to during this time. Things will be different so remember to cut yourself some slack. Modern life is so incredibly busy so take advantage of the new situation as best as you can and slow things down. You might even enjoy this different pace of life. Tomorrow is a new day; so if today wasn’t quite the success you hoped for, forgive yourself. These are unprecedented times.

Volunteer or find out how you can help people locally. Check on your friends and relatives to see how they are doing. Helping others feels good.

Go easy on the booze. It’s easy to have a couple of drinks when the day is so long, but try having a day off every couple of days (or more) to give your body a better chance of fighting off those bugs.

Reach out: Talk about it. Talk Club is all about sharing thoughts with others and you can bet, especially during these times, so many others will be feeling the same way. Most importantly, if you are struggling to cope, ask for help and reach out to people that you trust.


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