Looking after your Mental Health in isolation
The world can seem like a scary place at the moment, but it may also seem like a scary place if you’ve been forced to or have chosen to self-isolate or social distance because spending time alone or being cooped up in the house, is not ideal for some people.
However, it doesn’t have to be worrying, as we have lots of ideas of how to keep your mental health safe and preoccupied during this time…
I’ll be using the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’: Connect, Be active, Take notice, Learn and Give as a structure and how to apply them in the current circumstances.
You may be wondering how this will even be possible if we all have to socially distance ourselves. But we are very fortunate to be living in this day and age what with all the forms of digital communication we have, alongside calls and texting.
If you’re like me and like to see people face to face then there’s tons of ways you can still do that without having physical contact. Apps like Skype, WhatsApp video chat or video call on Facebook Messenger are all great to use for this as you can talk to people face to face from the comfort of your own phone/laptop and they’re all completely free to use and download on any android, iPhone, iPad/MacBook/tablet, laptop or computer (with a webcam).
If you know you’ll miss going to the pub with your mates or having your catch ups with a family member in a café, just video call them on one of these apps, beer or coffee in hand and enjoy each other’s company from your sofas.
There are loads of ways to be creative with this as well. For instance you can have video calls with multiple people at the same time – so you could even have a virtual party. One of you can choose the music to have on in the background; another can come up with games to play and so on.
If you have weekly groups you attend, like a fitness class, arts & crafts, book club etc. find out if they have a group chat/video group already set up and join it so that you can still enjoy all the things you love to do with the people you love doing them with. People are quickly adapting to the situation so if they haven’t already, I’m almost certain they will soon be putting things in place. But if they haven’t yet, you can always take the lead and start a group yourself. The possibilities are endless!
This does seem like tricky one, especially for those of us who love going to the gym or fitness classes. But just as I said in ‘Connect’ lots of fitness classes will start taking place online, so just keep a look out for them.
However, if you don’t attend anything like that and you’re a bit of a home body and prefer the company of your bed or sofa more, it’s still important for both your mental and physical health to keep your body moving.
We are hoping to continue our Get Set to Go programme digitally through trialling it first with people we support In the meantime, the NHS has some great exercises that can be done at home here:
Also, remember although we may have to be socially distant we can still go for walks in less built up areas, to large parks, forests and so on, so that everyone can still get some fresh air and exercise in in some beautiful, green spaces.
With everything that’s going on in the News, on social media, maybe among your family and friends who have become engrossed in the updates, it’s really easy to get distracted by all of the busy-ness.
Nonetheless, you can still practise mindfulness and taking a step back from all of things that might be overwhelming you. For instance, you could get a plant to tend to and notice it’s amazing design; the colour of the flower petals, its smell, the veins in the leaves; stroking your pet, noticing all of the intricate markings of their fur or playing with them more; watching the birds in your garden, breathing the air in and noticing the blue sky and even cloud spotting on a walk.
Taking notice can also be de-cluttering a room or your entire house especially if it’s something you’ve wanted to do for a while. If you live with someone take notice of how they are feeling and talk through it with them. If you live alone, ring someone you haven’t been in touch with for a while and see how they’re doing.
If you’re feeling particularly anxious or depressed at the moment, meditation can really help and there’s a plethora of different meditation apps on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, YouTube has meditation videos too, so have a browse.
You may have been wanting to learn a new language, start a book, teach yourself a new skill like playing piano or guitar, cooking/baking, painting, doing some DIY for a while now or even start a new project like redecorating the house, gardening, writing that book you’ve had in your head for years, setting up a small online business, but have never had the time to do it. Well now you have the chance!
Learning new things and keeping our minds active with exciting and interesting information and skills is so beneficial to our mental health. Seeing this situation as an opportunity to do things you’ve always wanted to and not as a restriction, is how we can keep our minds happy and healthy.
Although we might not be able to physically visit people, there are many ways you can give back whether that’s a smile at the end of a video chat or checking in on your friends and relatives via a text, postcard or phone call. There are also volunteering opportunities to support people over the telephone or online support, to find out more about these opportunities head to your local CVS and check out this website for volunteering opportunities: http://thvolunteering.org.uk
If you’re a social media lover, posting only positive and uplifting things on your profiles and through work/personal emails is also a great way of giving, as it boosts morale and keeps everyone in high spirits. If you’re working from home and finding it really difficult, having a light-hearted chat with your colleagues where you can send funny GIFS, memes, videos and pictures is an awesome and entertaining way to get through a work day from home.
Also, if you are able to, donating to charities such as us and other local charities would be such a great help as we are still running services whether it be online or over the phone.
‘Individuals who report a greater interest in helping others are more likely to rate themselves as happy. Research into actions for promoting happiness has shown that committing an act of kindness once a week over a six-week period is associated with an increase in wellbeing.’ (National Mind).
This act of kindness can also be done from home – help with cleaning, washing the dishes, clearing the garden, making dinner – all simple but all small acts of kindness.
Things are changing every day and although the uncertainty is very real, there are always ways of getting through it, staying hopeful and trust us, there will be light at the end of the tunnel.
Stay safe, look after yourselves and others who are more vulnerable, stay connected, active, keep noticing, learning and giving and things will be ok.
From today we will no longer be open for face to face meetings and instead we will be offering telephone support.
This week we will be trialling some new digital support for the people currently using our services with the hope to extend this out to others in the near future. Keep checking our website for further details. We are still here for you no matter what.
Training is also being moved online, so keep on top of our website and social media channels for updates.
Take care x
Posted on: 23rd March 2020