Our mental health and our physical health are just as important as each other. That’s why, particularly at the moment, we need to make sure that we, our friends and our family look after our mental health as much as possible.
I hope that this short guide will give you tips and information on making sure that you look after your mental health at a time that can be scary to lots of people across the country. Remember, it’s good to stay connected and informed, but not to the detriment of your mental health.
LOOKING AFTER YOUR MENTAL HEALTH WHEN YOU’RE AT HOME
It’s really important to make sure that you have a structure to your day when you’re at home, so here’s a 6-point plan for your day:
Make sure you don’t stay in your pyjamas all day – keep a regular routine that will keep your confidence up. And try to start your day at the same time that you usually would, because your body will stay in its natural rhythm.
Keeping active and exercising where you are able to is key to reducing stress, increasing energy levels and helps your sleep pattern. And if you’re stuck for motivation, there are plenty of exercise routines on YouTube that you could look at!
The NHS website has plenty of relaxation techniques that you could look at. They’ll help relieve stress and will help give you a sense of well-being.
Find creative ways to keep in touch with your friends, colleagues and family. Just because you can’t visit other households, it doesn’t mean that you can’t speak to those closest to you over the phone, social media or video calling. Have an online coffee break with your colleague or an after work call with your friends or family.
At the end of the day, think about what went well and what you could improve on. What were you grateful for during the day? How can you make tomorrow better? Think about writing down your thoughts so you can go back to them at a later date.
In these difficult times, you might have trouble getting a good night’s sleep. To improve your sleep, try and stick to your usual bedtime and get up in the morning when you usually would. And try to avoid using your phone, tablet, computer or TV before bedtime.
STICK TO THE FACTS
It’s really easy to become overwhelmed by all of the news surrounding Coronavirus.
So make sure that you can find a credible source that you can trust – such as gov.uk or the NHS website. And fact-check information that you get from social media and other people. The Government has set up a Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp, which covers the most common questions about the coronavirus.
You should also think about how inaccurate information could affect your friends and family too.
It’s really important to think about limiting the amount of time that you spend watching, reading or listening to the news surrounding coronavirus.
Some people have found it easier to limit themselves to checking the news twice a day. It can be very distressing having large numbers of breaking-news alerts on your phone during the day.
MENTAL HEALTH ADVICE FOR OLDER PEOPLE
The vast majority of people across the UK have not experienced the kind of social distancing measures that have been put in place in our lifetimes.
So it’s okay to feel a little unsettled or worried. Despite this, it’s still important to make sure that you look after your own mental health if you are over 55 and living alone or shielding.
1. Keep up a routine, which will be helpful to give your day a sense or order and will help you stay in control.
2. Limit your intake of news, so that you aren’t overwhelmed with the coverage of the coronavirus. Hearing about Covid-19 all the time can be stressful and worrying.
3. Keep yourself entertained by watching more films, television or listening to the radio.
4. Stay in touch with your friends and family by planning when you will call or videocall them. This also helps you look forward to something later on in the week.
5. Try and stay as active as possible by moving around your house or flat and trying to do some light exercise.
HELPING OTHERS WITH MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS
Each year, around 1 in 4 people experience mental health problems. Most of us know a family member, colleague or friend who has struggled with their mental health.
According to the Every Mind Matters campaign, there are a number of things you can do to help
Express concern by letting someone know you’re worried. It’s a good way to start a conversation about how they are feeling, and it also shows the person that you care and that you have time for them.
Reassure them, because the first time someone mentions their worries is a huge step. Let them know that you’re there for them if and when they need to talk.
Be patient as you won’t always know the full story. Just being there for someone can be a huge help if they want to open up to you at a later date.
Look after yourself when looking after others. It can be upsetting to hear someone you care about in distress. Make sure that you take time to yourself so that you can relax and do things that you enjoy, whilst taking into account the Government guidelines on social distancing.
Offer some practical help like an act of kindness. Offer to do some shopping for them or try and find some practical information if they are not in a position to do it themselves.
USEFUL CONTACTS AND WEBSITES
Samaritans: Call: 116 123 Email: email@example.com
NHS 111 online: 111.nhs.uk
NHS Every Mind Matters Campaign: nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters
Mental Health Foundation: mentalhealth.org.uk/coronavirus
Mind – The Mental Health Charity: mind.org.uk/coronavirus-we-are-here-for-you Call: 0300 123 3393 (open 9am-6pm, Monday-Friday)
I hope that you found this guide useful, but if you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP
29b Wood Street