Protecting your mental health during coronavirus

Source: PSE April/May

By Stephen Buckley, Head of Information at Mind

The past few weeks have been unprecedented for us all. The arrival of coronavirus in the UK has meant that, for the vast majority of us, our way of life has changed. Change isn’t easy for most people, and it can be especially difficult for the one in four of us living with a mental health problem. At Mind, we’ve been working hard to provide advice and support to thousands of people - and that won’t stop over the weeks and months to come. 

We know that many people working in the public sector are keyworkers who are doing everything they can to keep the country running. We don’t know what’s next at this stage, but we do know that there are ways we can all adapt to this ‘new normal’ while protecting our mental health and staying well. 

It’s almost become a cliche to recommend exercise but, for those who are able to, it can be absolutely vital in terms of protecting mental health, especially if you can do physical activity outside. Taking a walk, jog, or cycle each day gives you time to relax and to release endorphins, which can have a positive effect on mood. While you’re out, try some mindful activity like counting the different types of birds you see, or watching out for the signs of spring. Now that some parks are closing, for some it’s becoming more difficult to exercise outside, but there are plenty of ways to keep fit indoors, such as Youtube exercise videos.

News coverage of the virus has become all-encompassing. It’s good to stay informed, of course, and you might not have a choice about how much you have to talk and engage with the situation at work. But outside of work, consider having a break, by turning off breaking news notifications on your phone and/or limiting your social media use.

Most of us find connecting with others plays an important role in staying mentally well. You might not be able to spend time face-to-face with loved ones right now, but try to regularly connect with friends and family in other ways, such as text, phone or video calls every day. Keep your brain occupied and challenged too. Set aside time in your routine for this. Read books, magazines and articles. Listen to podcasts, watch films and do puzzles.

If you’re really worried about your own mental health, or that of a loved one’s mental health, call your GP about options for accessing further support.

For more information, see www.mind.org.uk/coronavirus 


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