Supporting mental health during COVID-19

During stressful times as these, it’s more important than ever to look after your mental health and make it as much of a priority as your physical health.

New rules and advice around social distancing and self-isolating might mean that your mental health experiences a deterioration, which can be worrying, especially if you haven’t experienced mental health problems before.

At times like this, it can be hard not to feel alone. We spoke with leading mental health charity, Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), to get their top advice to look after your mental health.

Why might people be feeling particularly stressed or anxious at the moment?

Let’s be honest, there’s lots to think about right now with the Coronavirus. From financial worries, to anxiety around you and your loved ones’ health – it’s easy for thoughts to become overwhelming. Coronavirus is here, and it looks likely it’ll be part of our daily life for a little while to come.

If someone is self-isolating, how can lack of physical social contact affect someone? 

We’re social animals, so self-isolation goes against what we’re instinctively programmed to do. It can be hard to spot warning signs in someone, but factors like unexpected mood changes, social withdrawal, or change in sleeping and eating patterns can signal if someone is struggling.

What are some of the things we can do at this time to avoid these negative feelings? 

Strike a balance between having a routine and making sure each day has some variety. It can be hard to begin to accept this new normal. If you’re finding the change difficult, it might help to build yourself a new routine – getting up, eating and doing familiar things at set times can help you to feel a little more in control of the situation. But also change it up a little.

How can social media contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety and would you recommend staying off social media at this time?

With the advent of social media and 24-hour news channels it can be difficult to switch off. It’s very tempting to watch and watch (and then watch some more) all the information that’s coming in. But don’t do that to yourself. Avoid news that could make you feel anxious and choose the stuff that’s practical and helpful. Check the news once or twice a day and decide on specific times you’re going to do it (9am and 5pm, for example).

There’s also a lot of misinformation out there so stick to trusted sources. Try and share the positive stories you see of people who have recovered or even a post on Twitter that made you laugh.

Do you think it’s comforting for people to know that everyone’s in the same situation?

Absolutely. These are unprecedented times and we’re all in this together. Family, friends, colleagues and your local community at large can all empathise with one another and help each other along when we hit a rough patch.

What’s your final advice for Family Life readers?

We’re all in this together. If you’re struggling, talk to CALM on 0800 58 58 58 or through our webchat. Our trained support workers are available from 5pm to midnight every day to provide practical support and advice, whatever you’re going through.

If you’re struggling with your mental health during this time, there are numerous charities that can provide information, advice and support including, Samaritans, Mind, Mental Health Foundation and Rethink.

How are you feeling? Let us know on Twitter and Instagram.

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