YOUR MIND FIRST

COVID-19 & our Mental Health

The spread of COVID-19 is a new and unprecedented event in our world. Most of our lives have changed in some way for the moment, but in time, it will pass.

The constant buzz across the news and social media platforms about COVID-19 may feel relentless and can take its toll on our mental health.

Try some of our tips to help you take care of your mental health during this time:

1. Stick to facts & know your limits

With a constant stream of news and social media updates about COVID-19, it can be hard to distinguish fact from fiction and scaremongering. Make sure to get any information only from reliable sources such as the WHO,HSE and gov.ie

Reliable or otherwise, it is important to not take in too much information. If you need to, check in for updates once or twice a day and leave it at that. Limit social media scrolling as much as possible too – you don’t need to be a part of anyone else’s panic mode or rumour mill. It will do you no good.

2. Routine, routine, routine

It is important not to let this sense of routine fall apart at home. If you are working or studying from home, get up at your normal time, change out of your pyjamas, have a video call with a colleague or friend for a virtual coffee break. Keep your sense of routine as normal as possible in your home environment.

3. Positivity is key

Why not share, discuss or read about positive or encouraging stories relating to coronavirus. Maybe you heard of somebody who has recovered? Or read about how things have started to turn around for the better in China.

4. Stay in touch

Social distancing or self-isolation can be tough if you’re used to lots of social interaction, so it is important to keep this up as much as possible.

Arrange a time to video chat with friends you would normally chat to regularly in person. Use technology to “meet up” – read a book while on video chat, watch the same movie or have a cup of tea on Skype with your grandparents.

5. Keep on moving

Staying active is a key part of looking after our mental health. At the moment, it’s time to get a bit creative when it comes to exercising at home.

Clean your kitchen, dance around, run up and down your stairs, take a walk in an open space, try some YouTube exercise videos or do some squats in your living room.

6. Sunlight & fresh air

If you live near a large open space or green area then make sure to go for walks as much as you can. Spend time in your garden or open your front or back door and sit on the doorstep for a few minutes.

To get that mental boost indoors; open the windows to let in fresh air, have fresh flowers in a vase or potted plants in your home or on your outside windowsills, pull back curtains and blinds to let as much natural light as possible.

7. Fill your time

What better time to have a clear out? Sort through your wardrobe and decide what you want to keep and what you can give away.

Curl up with a good book, do a 1,000 piece jigsaw, paint or draw, bake some cookies or upcycle something in your home. Practice mindfulness, yoga or meditation (try Calm or Headspace) to keep your mind at ease and bring a sense of calm.

8. Take back control

While it may feel like the current situation in the world is beyond your control, why not take back control of your thoughts.

Writing down exactly how you are feeling helps with any overactive, anxious thoughts. Imagine your thoughts flowing from your mind, through the pen and onto the page. Once you seen them on paper, imagine that they are emptied from your mind and floating away.

9. Have an attitude of gratitude

Focussing on gratitude has been consistently found to boost feelings of positivity and improve mental health.

Focus on the little things and you’ll realise just how much you have to be grateful for – maybe you get to spend more time with a partner, spouse or housemate, read that stack of books you never get time for or simply get to wear comfy clothes as you work from home.

10. Focus on the future

One of the most important things to remember during this unprecedented period of time is that things will get back to normal – this will pass.

Think of all the small things you will be happy to return to – your commute to work, full shelves of toilet paper at the grocery store, embracing a friend or having a cup of tea with your grandparents. That time will come again.

For help or support on specific mental health issues you may be struggling with, head to https://www2.hse.ie/services/mental-health/services-search/.