Just a few short months ago, tche phrases “social distancing”, “social isolating” and “lockdown” were not ones in common parlance.

We might have heard of the coronavirus, witnessed through our screens the havoc it was wreaking in Wuhan and the rest of China, but we could never have imagined that COVID-19 as it’s also known would tear through the world like wildfire, causing life as we know it to grind to a halt.

Events are moving so swiftly that it’s hard to get our heads and hearts around the latest restrictions; and harder still to work out how to adapt the things we rely on to take care of ourselves in this strange new world.

Author Marya Hornbacher writes:

“Managing mental illness is mostly about acceptance – of the things you can’t do, and the things you must.”

It seems that in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, this advice is as true for those with or without mental illness.

The things we can’t do have been well publicised – but the things we must do to protect our mental health are vital for coping during this time.

  1. Whilst we may not be able to see friends and family, utilise the technology available to you to stay connected whether it be zoom, Skype, FaceTime or just a good old fashioned telephone call.
  2. Ensure that you take your daily allotted exercise outside each day – this has perhaps been easier this week as the weather has been glorious – but it’s vital to continue it even when the clouds hover.
  3. Try and eat a balanced diet – we know that certain types of food sell out quickly and might be hard to get hold of – but try and make the best of what you have.
  4. Be honest about how you’re feeling. When something colossal is happening in the world, it can be easier to ignore our own feelings or dismiss them as being ‘unimportant’ – but that could not be further from the truth. Sharing how you feel; both positive and negative can help us all to process our current reality.
  5. Try and implement a loose structure to your day – it’s isn’t necessary to timetable every activity, but perhaps having a key activity each day or setting a time to get outside.
  6. Get involved with however your church is operating at present, if technology is a barrier, consider asking a member of your church or family to give you a quick lesson over the phone.
  7. Allow yourself to have a good cry if you need to, it’s a lot to take in, and crying releases oxytocin and endorphins which can make life feel more bearable.
  8. Make sure you have enough medication to ensure you don’t miss a dose – either using your regular method or by signing up to an online pharmacy.
  9. Don’t be afraid to use national services like the Samaritans.

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