Coronavirus: Mental health and wellbeing - 7 key steps to take
We believe that there are several key things that you can do to get through this:
1. Manage your expectation
Difficulty concentrating, low motivation and being distracted are to be expected. Adapting to social distancing and isolation takes time. Go easy on yourself. As we settle into this new rhythm of remote work and isolation, we need to be realistic in the goals we set, both for ourselves and others in our charge.
If you need someone to talk to, call Breathing Space 0800 83 85 87 or Samaritans 116 123.
Please follow the links for information and support:
- Living with worry and anxiety amidst global uncertainty
- Mental Health Foundation
- Relaxation and wellbeing audios
2. Manage stress
Prioritizing your sleep, and practice good sleep hygiene. Avoid blue lights before bed and maintain a routine around your sleep and wake time. Eat well but be conscious that you might be inclined to lean on alcohol, or other indulgences, to manage stress — this is understandable, but potentially damaging in the long run. Exercise can lower your stress levels, help you to better regulate your emotions and improve your sleep.
Visit the NHS approved apps library.
Other useful apps:
- CBT-I Coach - for insomnia and sleep difficulties
- Mindshift CBT- for anxiety
- Self Help Anxiety Management (SAM) - for anxiety
- Happify - for stress, worry and low mood
- Headspace - for everyday mindfulness
- Calm - for relaxation
- Smiling Mind - to help de-stress and stay calm
3. Get to know your red flags
One way to manage moments of distress is to identify key thoughts that tend to contribute to your cycle of distress and feelings of being overwhelmed. Our thoughts, feelings, physical sensations (tension, upset stomach, jitters) and actions (such as compulsively checking the latest COVID statistics) each feed into and amplify these negative emotional spirals. Addressing one aspect of this loop by, for example, actively reducing the physical symptoms (I use box breathing: breathe in for four counts, hold for four, breathe out for four and hold for four, then repeat) can de-escalate the cycle and help you regain control.
4. Routine is our friend
It helps to manage anxiety and will help you to adapt more quickly to this current reality. Create clear distinctions between work and non-work time, ideally in both your physical workspace and your head space. Find something to do that is not work and is not virus-related that brings you joy. Working in short bursts with clear breaks will help to maintain your clarity of thought.
5. Be compassionate with yourself and with others
There is much that we cannot control right now, but how we talk to ourselves during these challenging times can either provide a powerful buffer to these difficult circumstances or amplify our distress. Moments of feeling overwhelmed often come with big thoughts, such as "I cannot do this," or "this is too hard." This pandemic will cause a lot of stress for many of us, and we cannot be our best selves all the time. But we can ask for help or reach out when help is asked of us.
- Beating the blues
- Samaritans: If you're worried about your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak
6. Stay connected
Even the most introverted of us need some sense of connection to others for our mental as well as our physical health. Many working groups have created virtual forums where you can contribute or just sit back and enjoy the chatter. Staff teams have instigated virtual coffee groups and co-working spaces where you can work in the (virtual) presence of others. We are in social isolation, but we need not feel alone. Reach out to those who might be particularly isolated.
7. Focus on what you can control
Mindfulness and meditation help by bringing us all back to the here and now.
Useful links for Mindfulness: