Looking After Your Mental Wellbeing During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak

Last Updated: 02/07/2020 at 15:28

Looking after your mental health is really important, especially in times where there is uncertainty and constant news updates about coronavirus (COVID-19). It's particularly important to consider your mental health as day-to-day lives and routines are changing because of social distancing, changes to working environments, job security and school closures. 

We've put together some top tips about looking after your mental health. Remember: it's natural to feel sad, distressed, worried, confused, scared or angry when there is lots of worrying news happening and your routine changes.  

Have a routine

Your day-to-day routine will likely change, whether that's because your school has closed or you're working from home. Keeping to regular routines and schedules as much as possible and/or creating new ones that include learning, fun activities and relaxing is really important. Make sure you plan some time for looking after yourself, whether it's reading a book, playing a game or doing some meditation. 

Take a look at our article on ways to help your community if you want to build supporting others into your day-to-day routine. 

Try to stay connected 

Talk to the people who make you feel better. This could be your family or your friends. If you can, try to get some virtual face-to-face time through apps like FaceTime or Skype. Or set up some new group chats on Facebook Messenger, Snapchat or WhatsApp. 

As we move out of lockdown and into Phase Two of the route map, you can now see members of up to two other households if you physically distance (stay at least two metres apart), meet them outside and follow good hygiene. This means you could arrange to meet a friend in the park to have a chat or arrange a BBQ with another household (as long as there's no more than eight people that make up your gathering).

A few more restrictions will be lifted from Friday 3rd July for children and young people who are not shielding. Children aged 11 years old and under will no longer have to follow physical distancing rules when meeting other households outdoors. Young people aged between 12 and 17 years old will be able to meet more than two groups of friends in the same day, however you can still only meet up with up to two other households (a maximum of eight people) at the same time. Apart from these exceptions, all other rules for meeting others outdoors are still in place. Read up on them on the Scottish Government's website if you're unsure.

Remember that if you're planning something like a BBQ or picnic with another household, each household should bring their own food and their own stuff (like plates and cutlery), so you don't touch the same surface as people that don't live with you, and remember to pack hand sanitiser so you can clean your hands before and after eating. 

You should not meet people from more than two other households each day and when you meet people from outside your own household, you still need to stay at least two metres apart from them.  

Keep yourself healthy

Getting your basic needs right will help you feel a lot better. Make sure you're eating as healthy as possible, with plenty of fruit and vegetables, and make sure you're drinking enough water. 

Try to get some exercise. There are lot's of ways you can do this in your own home such as taking advantage of free online exercise classes or workouts, from yoga to high intensity interval training (HIIT) to dance classes.

Or, you can go outside to exercise and exercise alone or with members of up to two other households. If you are meeting others outdoors to exercise, meet in small groups of no more than 8 people and stay 2 metres away from people outside your household. 

Activities should be outdoors, non-contact ones such as walking, running, cycling, golf, angling or tennis (unless you're 11 or under, as from 3rd July you will not need to follow physical distancing outside when following all other guidance). This isn't an exhaustive list and you should use your judgement if you are unsure if something is safe to do.

From Friday 3rd July, you can travel outside of your local area (more than 5 miles) for leisure and exercise.

This doesn't apply the areas of Annan, Gretna, Dumfries, Lockerbie, Langholm and Canonbie where there has been a small number of cases which is being monitored. Care homes in these areas will temporarily not be able to welcome visitors. Also, travelling south of the border for the purposes of going to a pub is also not allowed.

Make sure you're getting enough sleep too. Sleep is really important for our mental and physical health. Take a look at some top tips on how to get a good nights sleep. 

Take some deep breaths

Deep breathing can really help you if you're feeling anxious or worried. You can do this exercise anywhere; you could try standing up, sitting down, or lying on your back. The important thing is that you're comfortable.

Follow this blue ring, inhaling through your nose, holding for just a second, then exhaling through your mouth. Try and take long, slow, deep breaths from your diaphragm (your tummy). Do this for three to five minutes to clear your head, reduce your heart rate and blood pressure, and help you relax.

Breathing exercise animation

Find alternatives

If you're feeling upset because an event you were looking forward to was cancelled, lots of people are now offering virtual ways to enjoy things. Lots of musicians are live-streaming concerts, you can visit museums across the world virtually and you can watch e-sports if you're missing the football or rugby. Take a look at our beginners guide to getting into e-sports. 

Have a wellbeing plan

It's always good to have a plan in place, even if you're not sure you'll use it. If you think you may a little extra support for either your physical or mental health, know who to get in touch with and how. 

Make sure you've got enough medication if you take any. You can call your GP or some practices will let you order your prescription online. If you are self-isolating, ask a friend or family member to pick it up for you and drop it off outside your house or flat. 

Get expert advice

There are lots of mental health charities that provide really useful advice that can help you if you're struggling. 

The Mental Health Foundation are providing support to address the mental health aspects of the Coronavirus outbreak alongside other official organisations.

See Me Scotland have lots of advice specifically for young people.  

The NHS also has lots of useful tips that can help you look after your mental wellbeing. 

SAMH has set up a new hub for looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak. 

Talk to someone

If you're finding things particularly difficult, there are lots of services that can help. 

Samaritans is open 24/7. You can call them on 116 123 or email them at jo@samaritans.org.

Give us a SHOUT also provide a free text service 24/7 for people feeling anxious, worried or stressed. Just text 85258. 

Breathing Space is open 6pm to 2am Monday - Thursday and 24 hours a day on the weekends (Friday 6pm to Monday 6am). You can call them on 0800 83 85 87. If you are a British Sign Language user you can contact them via their online BSL-interpreting video relay service (VRS).

ChildLine is open 9am-midnight. You can call them 0800 1111. They also have an online service where you can chat with a counsellor about whatever's worrying you.

Things to avoid

Try not to use alcohol, drugs or tobacco to cope with the way you're feeling. All of these things have a negative impact on your mental and physical health. Find out more over on the Choices for Life site.

Speculation and rumours can swirl online, which can make you feel worried or scared. Stick to getting your information from reliable sources. For COVID-19 information, the World Health Organisation website, the NHS website and the Scottish Government will be the most up-to-date and accurate.

Remember that it’s fine to not check the news or scroll through endless updates each day. Take some time out and put your phone down for a while. Have a look at our #PowerPause campaign for ideas on how to take a break from your screen.  

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