Now, enduring a third Lockdown. This is a very difficult time for all of us and it is more important than ever to look after ourselves whilst at home or whether you are a front line health worker helping in the fight against the disease. Here are a few pieces of advice to ensure we are looking after our mental health during the pandemic:
1. Develop a routine and stay in touch with others.
It will mean a different rhythm of life or routine, we will have to stay in touch with others using different means. Be in touch with other people regularly on social media, e-mail or on the phone, as they are still good ways of being close to the people who matter to you. Using Skype or FaceTime are excellent ways to stay in touch.
Create a new daily routine that prioritises looking after yourself. You could try reading more or watching movies, having an exercise routine, trying new relaxation techniques, or finding new knowledge on the internet. Try and rest and view this as a new if unusual experience, that might have its benefits.
Make sure your wider health needs are being looked after such as having enough prescription medicines available to you.
2. Avoid speculation and sensationalism.
Seek out reliable sources of information and avoid scouring the media for bad news stories. More reliable sources may include the governments own information sites including NHS online. Bear in mind some sites just want to sell stories so will pick out the cases that have maximum emotional impact, try to keep a perspective and look for other news items. Try not to just refresh your favourite news site hundreds of times a day. Perhaps limit your exposure to news to once or twice per day. It is often the case that you are just reading and hearing the same regurgitated information on loop - this isn't useful.
3. Anticipate distress.
It is perfectly normal to feel anxious so lets normalise this. Being anxious doesn't mean you have a mental health problem. Of course, if anxiety starts to become unbearable and interferes significantly with daily functioning, you should get in touch (please see our contact page on how to do this). Some basic relaxation exercises and challenging of irrational negative thoughts can be reframed and challenged, don't let them go unchecked!
4. Remind yourself that this will pass.
One thing is certain and that is that all this will pass as virus outbreaks eventually run their course. It is tempting to develop a bleak and pessimistic perspective but try to imagine how you will feel this time next year when the apparent crisis has passed.
5. Contribute to your community's tackling of the disease.
In a time in which we can often feel out of control, it can be important to feel as though we are making a contribution to tackling the virus, however small. That may be finding meaning in adhering to the guidance e.g. staying at home or wearing face masks when in public spaces. It may also mean regularly checking on vulnerable friends, family and neighbours. It could even mean volunteering to help with the roll out of the vaccines or COVID-19 test administration.
At the London Psychologist Clinic we are here to help if you have tried all of these things yet feel you may need more intense intervention. Please see our contact page for more information if you are finding that self-help interventions are not sufficient.