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Managing your mental health during the coronavirus crisis

Life has changed in a number of ways since the start of the coronavirus outbreak. Like many of us, you might be feeling worried and stressed and it can feel difficult adjusting. It’s important to remember that this situation will pass and we will get through it together. We’ve come up with a list of simple ways to look after your mental health and well-being during this time:

  1. Keep connected

Staying in touch with our friends and family is key to our mental wellbeing. Catching up with people we enjoy spending time with is a great way to boost your mood. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it can also be helpful to open up about your feelings to someone you trust.

There are lots of ways to connect digitally beyond video calls and messaging. Netflix Party is a fun way to stay social and watch content together. Online games, like Quick, Draw and Psych, are also a brilliant way to spend time with friends.

  1. Take a break

It’s also important to take a break and prioritise yourself. Technology is great for keeping us connected, but when using it a lot you can start to feel stressed. Taking a short break can help you relax.

Try an evening where you don’t check your social media and phone. Use this time to do something else, such as a hobby or something new. This could be listening to music, reading a book or watching a film you’ve been meaning to see for a while. Take this time to focus on what you would like to do.

  1. Manage your news intake

Keep track of how much news you’re watching and how this is making you feel. You might want to consider limiting the time you spend following coverage of the outbreak if you’re starting to feel anxious. It might be helpful giving yourself a set amount of time each day to update yourself and turning off news alerts on your phone to remain informed but not overwhelmed.

  1. Mindfulness

Focusing your attention to the present moment can help soothe stress and anxiety. Mindfulness and relaxation techniques are helpful for improving our wellbeing. These are great ways to direct any worries away from the future or situations that we have no control over. Headspace has also released free meditation sessions that you can listen to any time.

  1. Keep creative and do things you enjoy

Doing something creative can help you feel calm and relaxed and keep your mind active. Explore old and new hobbies, including painting, crafts, playing music, dancing and baking. Don’t worry too much about the end result, focus on enjoying the process.

Lots of activities have also moved online, from writing workshops to live drawing classes. You can receive a weekly guide on them here. We’re also sharing the CA’s community art and positivity posts on our Instagram. Check them out to get inspired and share your own posts!

  1. Look after your body

Our body and the way we feel are dependent on each other. When we’re stressed, it can be easy to fall into habits that might make you feel worse. Try eating healthy meals and drink enough water and exercise regularly. You can go outside for exercise or try a home work out to stay fit indoors. Yoga is also great for the mind and body. You might want to explore a new form of exercise you haven’t tried before.

  1. Connect to nature

Mind recommend getting as much sunlight, fresh air and nature as you can. When going on a walk, take time to listen to the sounds and sights around you. If you can’t go to a green space, try opening your window and noticing your surroundings. Can you feel or hear the sun, wind or rain? Focusing on nature this way can improve our mood, reduce feelings of stress or frustration and help you feel relaxed.

  1. Set yourself small goals

When you’re at home or if you have more free time than you’re used to, It can feel overwhelming deciding where to start with the day. Try setting yourself small goals you want to achieve each day: one creative, one social, one productive and one self-care. Start small, it could be calling a friend or opening a new book. Reward yourself when accomplishing a task, even if it’s just telling yourself ‘well done’.

  1. Be kind to yourself

If you’re finding things hard, it’s okay to press pause. Try not to hold yourself to expectations and goals you set out to achieve before or after the current situation. Don’t be hard on yourself if you’re struggling to meet them. It’s alright if you aren’t being productive right now and just focusing on taking each day as it comes. You can just be. That’s enough.

  1. Talk to your GP or mental health team

If you’re struggling to cope with feelings of anxiety and stress, please speak to your doctor or NHS 111. Many GPs are offering telephone consultations.

For urgent support, Samaritans are also here to listen at any time, day or night. Call free on 116 123 or visit the Samaritans website.

The Wellness Society have also published a Coronavirus Anxiety Workbook.

Anxiety UK also have a helpline staffed by volunteers with personal experience of anxiety so you will be speaking with someone who has been there. Call them on 08444 775 774 (Monday – Friday: 9.30am – 5.30pm).

Local Minds offers valuable support for yourself and if you’re supporting someone else experiencing difficulties with mental health.

Body & Soul are running MindSET every Wednesday at 11:30 for young people aged 16 – 30, help young them to manage emotional distress. You can sign up here.

Do also look at the Creative Access blog on taking care of ourselves and each other here.