It feels as if we are all starring in our very own runaway virus movie…streets are deserted, people are panic buying and police are escorting people away that dare to go out in public. It all seems quite surreal. It looks as if we are in for a bumpy ride with an indefinite uncertain time period ahead.
There is a strong connection between corona virus and mental health. Due to the recent corona virus pandemic, we have all been forced to enter into social isolation to reduce to spread of the virus. Along with social isolation, mental health problems are bound to occur. Reduced contact with others has a profound effect on mental health – we spend more time worrying and catastrophizing and feeling lonely can heighten anxiety and depression.
People don’t tend to fare well with uncertainty in general and in the current climate, uncertainty is higher than ever.
Ways to maintain your mental health during self isolation
Self isolation requires a cognitive shift in perception. Instead of focusing on the fearful aspects, focus on the fact that you now have time to catch up on things you never have time for. This is a great opportunity to read that book, catch up on a box set or begin your spring clean early – decluttering your home. Be awar of your focus – if you pay attention to what you can’t control, you will feel more anxious and hopeless. Instead, pay attention to what you can do from home and use this time productively. Being productive doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be doing something constantly – there is such a thing as productive rest as well – take a nap guilt free!
Keep your mind busy
A bored mind is a dangerous mind – we tend to ruminate and worry about all sorts of inevitabilities – be careful with this. Your thoughts aren’t facts yet they produce very real emotions. Negative thoughts will lead to negative emotions. We tend to default to the negative as it is part of our survival kit but when we are at home, we are safe despite the fact that we might be bored.
Watch movies, enage with others online, work from home if possible but make an effort to keep your mind occupied. Try cooking a new recipe, perhaps sign up for a free online course…
Get out in nature
Fresh air is key and a great antidote to being cooped up. Visit your nearby park or take your dog for a walk. Some exercise is excellent for mental health.
Connect with others
Thankfully there are many safe ways to connect with others – through Skype, Webex, Zoom as well as email and texting. Technology is definitely our friend whilst th corona virus is here in terms of keeping in touch with friends and family.
Look after yourself. Even though you may not be leaving the house as often, you now have extra time to moisturise, pluck and preen… self care increases the feel good hormone, Oxytocin – good for mental health and emotional wellbeing.
Limit watching the news
If you find that watching the news is causing you anxiety, limit the time you watch it. If you are safe at home, you don’t need to know every single update – manage your viewing and spend the rest of the time focused on more upbeat sources of info/entertainment.
If you are really struggling, try online counselling – there is so much choice out there. I currently work for IESO digital health – they offer online counselling from the comfort of your own home.
Take life one day at a time and don’t catastrophise. Focus on what you can control and keep in mind the above tips and you will manage far more effectively and protect your sanity at the same time.