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May 08, 2020
Caring for your mental health during a pandemic
While the last number of weeks have been tough on all of us, with people social distancing, cocooning or self-isolating, which are crucial in stopping the spread of Covid-19, it’s natural to feel lonely, anxious or stressed at this time, especially for those that may live alone. Whatever your situation is, we must not forget about or neglect our mental health. Many of us have been affected in different ways and are facing stressful life changes and uncertainty, the constant barrage of bad news from the media can add to this stress and despair.
So what can we do to support our mental well-being during this time?
Practice Self Care
Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. It’s about finding your own rhythm or routine; it has to be something you actively plan rather than something that just happens. Having a regular routine can help us feel in control of life and reduce our stress levels. Start with the basics, like a good sleeping pattern (adults usually need 7-8 hours of sleep each night), keep hydrated throughout the day and maintain a healthy and nutritious diet.
Exercise if you can
Thinking about exercising while stressed or anxious can be easier said than done, but if you are well enough, exercise is a really good for your mental & physical well-being. If you have a garden, get outside. You are allowed to leave your house for physical exercise such as walking, running or cycling, but there are plenty of things you can do at home in your own living room, YouTube has plenty of free videos on yoga or cardio work outs. Exercise can increase serotonin levels, leading to improved mood and energy.
It’s obviously important to stay informed and up to date on what’s going on, but constantly watching the news and hearing stories about the pandemic may cause you to be stressed and anxious. Make sure you have some time away from news stories – binge a tv show, read a book, take up a hobby like cross stitch or painting. Do something enjoyable to take your mind off current events.
While we have to keep socially distant from each other, we don’t have to lose connection with our friends and family. There are plenty of different video sharing apps you can use to keep in touch with loved ones (e.g. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Facetime, skype etc…). Humans are social animals, keeping in touch with people can help us keep emotionally connected while staying physically apart.
Get help if you need it
If you are struggling with your mental health, do not hesitate in asking for help. A lot of resources have gone into tackling this pandemic, but other services are still running, often in a different format or capacity. As the HSE cannot currently run their stress relief courses in the community, they have switched to an online version; Dr Christina Corbett, HSE Senior Psychologist commented: “This programme aims to provide easy access to practical information for anyone who may be feeling anxious or stressed at this time. We have had a lot of positive feedback from Irish participants.” The HSE Health & Wellbeing Stress Control on-line programme’s next broadcast will be on Monday 11th May, click here to register.
If you need help, call your GP or Samaritans have a free, 24/7 listening line, free phone 116 123. Samaritans is a unique charity dedicated to reducing feelings of isolation and disconnection.
‘’We are not all in the same boat, but we are all in the same storm’’. My circumstances may be different to yours, but we are all going through a difficult period together and we need to be aware of that and be aware of others and help where we can. There is a light at the end of this tunnel, but we have to work together to reach it.
For more information on the services that Communicare Healthcare offers, call 1890 947 222.