Coronavirus has created uncertainty and the news can feel relentless. All of this is taking its toll on people's mental health, particularly those already living with conditions. So how can we all protect our mental health?
People that are already going through a tough time may find the next few weeks tough. If you suffer from anxiety and use exercise as your coping mechanism, then the closure of gyms is going to hit you hard. But it could also be a chance to try something new, like a You Tube workout. There are literally 1,000's of HIT/Yoga workouts on You Tube and they are all free so why not try them to keep up your exercise. Or why not set up a set of circuits in your garden. You just need a few items, like a skipping rope, some weights (you can improvise with alternative items), hula hoop, etc, you get the picture. You could get the whole family involved, so you are all exercising at the same time. You could make it a bit competitive and have daily challenges?
Now that pubs and restaurants are closed down a social avenue has been shut for many
A large number of people use pubs as their social outlet. It can be older, single people who have a local pub that they visit to keep in touch with people. Some pubs are the hub of the village or town, so when these pubs are closed down it can be tricky for some people. An alternative is to try and recreate a pub using an online meeting service. Why not set up a pub quiz that everyone can compete in online? As long as you have a good internet connection you can join in. It will keep you in touch with others and keep your brain working but remember, no cheating!
Loneliness is more acute for some people in these troubled times
Loneliness can be tough but manageable if you can leave the house and interact with people for some of the day. However, right now if you're part of the vulnerable group of people, over 70 and with an underlying health condition, you are being advised to self-isolate, which is hard when you're already lonely. So, what to do? FaceTime is a great alternative. It's not the same as seeing someone in the flesh but it is a form of human contact. If you know an elderly relative that doesn't have a smartphone then why not invest in a secondhand phone, SIM only so they can FaceTime their nearest and dearest. Or, if they have a laptop or computer, introduce them to Zoom or Google Hangouts? Try to check in with your older relatives on a daily basis if possible and try to make it as fun as possible.
Spending a large amount of time with family also comes with its issues
The opposite of loneliness is spending too much time with people, which sounds crazy, but it can happen. Plenty of marriages survive on minimal contact between the partners and now these relationships are being tested to their limits by spending 24/7 together. This can go two ways. You could rekindle your relationship and reconnect, which is great. Or it could go another way and you could begin to question your relationship. The important thing to remember here is that these are testing times for any relationship. None of us are used to spending this much time with anyone, plus all the added stresses and strains of financial/job/family issues to worry about, so it's normal to feel a bit anxious about life and the relationships in life. If after all of this has passed, which it will, you still feel that your relationship needs some help then maybe think about talking to a relationship Counsellor. This doesn't mean the end of a relationship; it can actually help couples stay in a relationship.
What about pre-existing mental health conditions?
People can really start to suffer with their mental health in uncertain times. If you are anxious then the uncertainty and panic that is being seen, can really affect some people. So, what to do if you are in the middle of seeing a Counsellor or Hypnotherapist? Some practitioners are offering Skype sessions for clients to continue their treatment. It can have mixed results but it's worth trying to see if it works for you. If you can't continue to see your Counsellor then there are a number of charities that you can talk to. The Samaritans and Anxiety UK both have help lines that can be contacted for help.
There are some really simple techniques to use for controlling anxiety
Check back to our site tomorrow for an anxiety checklist and help sheet with some helpful tips that hopefully, can help you to get through this time. And don't forget, this will end, it won't be forever, and we are all in this together.
We hope this helps and please take professional advice if you feel unwell.