How to Protect Your Mental Health During Lockdown – Coronavirus/Covid-19

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It’s an uncertain time. Things have changed for all of us and our daily routines and schedules are very different.

This may make you feel more anxious and insecure than usual. The sense of security and stability that you rely on to keep you grounded and make you feel safe has suddenly been affected and you may feel a sense of unease and uncertainty.

If you are struggling emotionally at the moment and are finding it hard to find something stable and secure to hold on to, I hope to help you to cope and find a way through.

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Introduce some Structure and Routine

This is a time of change and your routine may well be very different to normal. Try to plan your day and your week ahead and bring in as much structure to your daily life as you can. Have an idea of what you will be doing each day, whatever that may be. You could draw a plan or a timetable to help you plan your routine. Knowing what you will be doing and at roughly what times will help to bring in some stability and security and bring a little more certainty into these uncertain times.

Limit your News Intake

Limit your news, social media, papers. If you are already feeling anxious and uncertain, viewing too much news or social media is going to just add to it. It’s important to know the daily updates, but beyond this, will it help you to be watching all the news and opinions around the crisis?

It’s finding a balance that works for you, without overloading you with unnecessary facts and opinions. Maybe you could just stick to watching the daily updates at a certain time of day. You could check in once a day to see the latest updates then try to avoid it. It’s best to try to stick to the most reliable news sources and websites that you know of, rather than going off often unverified social media sources. In the UK, the NHS and GOV.UK websites are very reliable sources for all the latest changes and updates.

Stay Connected

Social media is very useful at this time for other purposes. You could join groups and keep in touch with loved ones via social media. Connectedness is so important at this time and just because you are isolated at home doesn’t mean you have to be isolated from the outside world.

What a great time to contact friends and family who you haven’t spoken to for a while. Feeling connected through the telephone, social media, video calling and via text or instant messenger will make such a difference to your emotional health. Some video calling services and telephone services allow you to add several people into the conversation and you could even have a conference call with a large group of family or friends.

If you don’t have anyone special in your life, you could join a social media group, who are like minded or have similar interests. There are Facebook and other social media groups and forums for just about any interest these days and you will probably find it very easy to make conversations on there and make new friends.

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Reconnect with Old Interests

You could use this time to reconnect with some old interests. What did you used to like to do that made you happy? Now, with more free time you can embrace some of those old interests and renew them. Arts, crafts. music, writing… Whatever it is, what an opportunity you might never have again to spend some time connecting with an old hobby. And what you are really doing when doing something like this is connecting in with a part of yourself and building up your sense of identity. This is a massive part of good mental well-being.

Embrace Gratitude

Connecting with gratitude can really enhance your happiness and sense of wellbeing right now. Make a list of what you are grateful for and keep adding to it as you think of more things. Continuously reflecting on what you are grateful for will improve your mood and help you to focus on what you have rather than what you don’t.

Practice Mindfulness

In the UK, at the time of recording this video, it is allowable to go outside for exercise once a day, either by yourself or with the people you are living with. Make the most of this time. How about a long walk, where there aren’t others around? If you are able to, get out into nature and practise some mindfulness while you are there.

Notice and be aware of all the sights, smells, sounds and sensations around you. Be aware of what is going on in the present moment. Just be aware of how it feels and accept it for what it is. This is mindfulness, and with practice it can help you to dwell less on the past and to worry less about the future and will give you a feeling of peace and calm.

Mindfulness can be practised at home. It is the practice of being aware and staying in the present moment. A good practice to start with is a mindfulness body scan.

Find a comfortable, quiet place to sit upright in a position that feels comfortable. Close your eyes if this feels alright for you. Notice the sensations in your body. Start with your feet and feel what is going on your toes. Wiggle them and notice how they feel. Work up through your body, noticing any tightness, aches, warmth, coldness, pulses and sensations. Just be aware of these feelings, don’t try to change them, just accept them as they are. Work all the way up to the top of your head, noticing all parts of your body and how they feel. If you want to, you could stop there, or you could keep working up and down your body. You will notice a sense of calm and peace. This is because you are just accepting things as they are, you’re not trying to change or control anything. This is mindfulness and with practise, you can learn to access this feeling of calm wherever you are.

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Learn Something New

Maybe you could use this as a valuable time to learn something new. What have you always wanted to learn or know more about? YouTube has lots of educational videos on all sorts of subjects from knitting to languages to car maintenance. Many learning establishments and e-learning sites offer free or low-cost distance courses.

Learning something new will distract you from any negative thoughts you are having. It will help you to connect with your sense of who you are. It could really give you a sense of empowerment and help you to unlock new parts of yourself.

Use Positive Affirmations

Positive affirmations are powerful statements that change your mindset and allow you to be open and receptive to all possibilities that will lead to the sort of life you want. In uncertain and anxious times, positive affirmations can really help you to feel calmer and more positive and open to change and uncertainty.

Writing down and repeating them out loud to yourself will really help you to have a better mindset and outlook. You could repeat them to yourself as much as you want, either out loud or in your head. Repeating positive affirmations in the mirror can be very effective.

Positive affirmations for calmness could be: “I fill my day with calm and peaceful feelings” or “A sense of deep inner peace is with me all the time.”

Positive affirmations for uncertainty could be “I embrace uncertainty with a positive mind” or “I am open to change, and I know things will work out well.”

Keep practising these affirmations and the more you practise them, the more you will attract the mental well-being into your life.

I hope that the advice in this piece will help with your mental health. I hope it will help you to find some security and stability and improve your mood.

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