18th June 2020
Coronavirus (COVID-19) has posed many problems for people in all corners of the world since it’s outbreak earlier this year. Whether you are a business owner who has had to shut up shop in response to government advice, an employee unable to work or are currently working remotely until it’s safe to return to the office, the situation that we find ourselves in will be having an impact on your mental health in one way or another – even if you don’t know it.
If the isolation and cabin fever isn’t enough, people are having to deal with cancelled plans, missed holidays and postponed weddings and christenings. Many are even having to cope with the loss of loved ones while coming to terms with not being able to physically attend funerals.
With these implications alongside the added worries of work and finances being affected by the measures being taken in the wake of COVID-19, it’s hardly surprising that many of us will be feeling the pressure and finding it tough to get through the days.
Mental health has always been a big topic of conversation, and those who struggle with their own mental health problems will need support now, more than ever.
Managing Mental Health
Below are some tips on how to look after your mental health during lockdown.
These have been categorised based on the situations that they would be most beneficial to support, but all the tips that follow are worth trying – we are all different and, as such, find different ways of coping.
How to Keep on top of Negative Thoughts Amidst COVID-19
Change your Outlook
Stop telling yourself that you are stuck inside and, instead, think “I can finally focus on the things I have been putting off or didn’t have time for.” The world may be feeling a bit dismal right now, but think of the mandated stay at home policy as an opportunity to refocus your attention from the external to the internal.
Doing even just one productive thing per day can lead to a more positive attitude. Set your sights on long-avoided tasks, reorganise or create something you’ve always wanted to. Approaching this time with a mindset of feeling trapped or stuck will only stress you out more. This is your chance to slow down and focus on yourself. This attitude can help you to turn the current situation into something way more positive and productive.
Stop Obsessing Over the News
Of course, you want to keep up to date on the latest news and guidance for COVID-19, but obsessing over every little update, staring at the news all day and reading articles shared by your friends and family on social media is counter-productive. In fact, it’s incredibly detrimental to your mental wellbeing. We cannot deny what is happening in the world at the moment, but it’s vital to remember that life is still happening. Limit the amount of time you spend ‘catching yourself up’ to fewer, shorter periods throughout the day. Take time to watch the daily briefing and perhaps spend five or ten minutes listening to a reputable news source in the morning if you feel the need. Away from this, try to carry on with your day as normally as you can.
With all the uncertainly happening outside your home, keep the inside organized, predictable and clean. Setting up mental zones for daily activities can be helpful to organize your day. For example, try not to eat in bed or work on the sofa- just as before, eat at the kitchen table and work at your desk. Loosening these boundaries just muddles your routine and can make the day feel very long. Additionally, a cluttered home can cause you to become uneasy and claustrophobic of your environment- so keep it tidy.
Try to build physical activity into your daily routine, if possible. Most of us don’t have exercise equipment like treadmills at home, but there are still activities you can do. Exercising indoors can be simple and there are options for most ages and abilities, such as:
- Dancing around the house to music – maybe even incorporate your cleaning with this if you find it hard to get motivated.
- Going up and down stairs.
- Seated exercises
- Online exercise workouts. (The Body Product team are particularly good as they cater for all ability levels and their workouts are short and enjoyable).
- Sitting less – if you notice you’ve been sitting down for a long time, just getting up or changing position can help.
Of course, now that restrictions are starting to ease slightly, it is also possible to head outside for some fresh air and exercise, so if none of the options above seem appealing to you, head out for a nice long walk or go for a jog. Just be sure to maintain social distancing if you do so.
Keeping active helps the brain to release endorphins that promote positive mental health.
Keep to a Routine
Try and maintain some structure from your pre-lockdown days. For those individuals with children, sticking to a routine might be easier; however, as you work from home, it could be tempting to fall into a more lethargic lifestyle which could lead to negative thinking. Wake up and go to bed around the same time, eat meals, shower, adapt your exercise regimen.
I cannot stress this one enough – get out of your PJ’s! I got myself into a slump in the first few weeks where I was quite happy to sit in bed all day with my laptop, but I soon pulled myself out of that bad habit when I began to feel unmotivated and low.
Do laundry on Sundays as usual. Not only will sticking to your normal routine keep you active and less likely to spiral, but it will also be easier to readjust to the outside world when it’s time to get back to work.
Looking After Yourself as a Key Worker
If you’re one of the many key workers heading out to work every day to ensure that society doesn’t grind to a complete halt, thank you. But please remember that it is just as important that you look after your own physical and mental health.
Make Time for You
Finding time for yourself while you are working, particularly if you are working more than usual or if you are under a lot of pressure, can feel like an impossible feat. However, making time for yourself is important for your physical and mental health. If you use the time when you’re not working to take care of yourself, this can help you keep going when you are at work. This can be time spent at home, or if you are on a break at work.
Find ways to relax. It can be anything from a nice hot bath at the end of a long day, or a few hours binge-watching your favourite TV show on your day off. Whatever it is, make sure that you allow yourself some time to just unwind and not think about work or other worries and stressors playing on your mind.
It may feel unrealistic to make time to do something you enjoy. But having something else to focus on outside of work can help you stay well. This could be something small, like having a video chat with a friend, having a bath or listening to music.
Mindfulness is a great practice as it helps you to pay attention to the present moment, using techniques like meditation, breathing exercises and yoga. It has been shown to help people become more aware of their thoughts and feelings. This means that instead of being overwhelmed by your feelings, it becomes easier to manage them.
Try apps like Headspace to help you understand how to practice mindfulness.
Keep a Healthy Diet
If you’re working long and hard hours, it may be harder to keep on top of a healthy diet or to eat at regular times. But it’s so important that you make time to stop and eat a healthy meal throughout the day. Your physical health has a big impact on your mental health and if you aren’t eating properly, your body will become run down. If your job is too demanding to let you sit down to eat meals, prepare healthy snacks and other foods that you can eat on the go.
Connect with People
Talk to someone you trust. Telling someone about how you feel can make a difference, even if they can’t change what you’re experiencing. You may want to talk to a colleague who understands your experiences. Or you may prefer to speak to someone outside of work, for a different view on things. Try to make plans to video chat with people or groups you’d normally see in person, when possible. You can also arrange phone calls or send instant messages or texts. Keep in touch with others as much or as little as you find helpful.
Clarisse works as the Lead of our Customer Care Team to provide our customers with the very best care and guidance when using their HR software and is responsible for our day-to-day marketing activities and strategies.