Taking care of your mental health while isolated
31 March 2020 | 0 Comment
The restrictions on social contact and movement can feel frustrating, but there are a number of things that can be done to maintain your social connection and improve your mental wellbeing.
Warning: This article will discuss anxiety. If you have any underlying physical or mental health conditions, please consult with your GP before changing your physical activities.
Staying in touch with family and friends
Self-isolation does not need to mean social isolation. Making time for meaningful phone calls and staying in touch online, are great ways to keep in contact when meeting face-to-face is not possible.
A small study found that talking to close friends and family helps to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. “Close relationships can act as buffers against difficulties resulting from negative experiences,” researchers wrote in the study
1.Setting up a regular time to catch up with friends and family. This creates events to look forward to in your day and helps to build a routine
2.Signing up to social media. By joining Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you can broaden who you are in contact with and engage with what is happening in the local community. Remember to stay safe online.
3.Shifting social events online. By using video calling, social events such as coffee mornings or book clubs can be done online. This could even be used to have meals or an afternoon cup of tea, with loved ones.
Especially, at this time, take extra care to keep in touch with friends and family. They will need it as much as you do!
Here is a useful guide to setting up video calling
Following a routine
Following a routine will help to establish predictability and normalcy in these uncertain times. This will help to manage activities that can be harmful to your mental wellbeing, such as over-watching the news while giving you activities to look forward to every day.
1.Following your normal routine as much as possible. Keeping up with ‘normal’ activities and hobbies help break up your day and ensures you aren’t continually spending time thinking about your worries.
2.Work towards daily goals. This could be something as small as trying to sleep early to trying to cook more or make something.
By working to achievable goals every day, you promote a feeling of positivity and productivity, while making each day more meaningful.
Manage your anxiety
We all will likely feel anxious and low in the coming weeks, so it’s important to have ways to look after yourself. This can take many different forms, but it boils down to making sure you can manage and acknowledge how you are feeling.
1.Talking to friends and family about how you are feeling. Talking is cathartic and is a great way to work through the stress and frustration. Everyone will be experiencing similar restrictions and might be feeling the same way you are, so talking about how you feel could help them as much as it helps you.
2.Be mindful of what might make you feel this way. For example, if the news leaves you feeling anxious, try to restrict when you watch/read it to certain times in the day and only for a short period of time.
3.Some breathing exercises. This is particularly useful if you are feeling overwhelmed. Sit or lie down in a way that’s comfortable for you. Take a deep breath in and hold it, at the same time raising and tightening your shoulders, and clenching your fists. Count slowly to 5 as you breathe out. Do this several times.
It is completely normal to feel anxious and stressed, so be kind to yourself.
Here is some more advice on looking after your mental health at home
Keep your mind stimulated
Keep your brain occupied and challenged. This will help keep your days interesting and keep you engaged.
1.Challenging your brain. Such as reading a book, listening to podcasts and watching films. Engaging with things that are unrelated to the pandemic, will keep you grounded.
2.Being more creative. This is a great way to unwind and relax. Try singing or playing music, writing, or crafts such as knitting or sewing.
3.Something new. For example, try a new hobby such as gardening, learn a new language or take an online class. You could even start a new group activity with friends and family such as an online book club
Use this extra time as an opportunity to maintain and expand your productivity!
Here is a list of books to try while you are self-isolating. There are plenty of books available online, so don’t worry if the local library or bookshop is closed.
Here are some great tips, if you want to give gardening a go.
Bring nature into your everyday life
Bringing nature into your life can improve your mood, reduce feelings of stress and anger as well as making you feel more relaxed and positive.
1.Spending time with the windows open. This will let in as much fresh air as possible and help tackle claustrophobia or feeling trapped.
2.Arranging a comfortable seat with a view. Try to sit somewhere you can look out over a view of trees or the sky, or watch birds and other animals.
All of these things can feel like being outside and improving your mindset.
For more resources and ways to improve your wellbeing, please visit