How to look after your mental health when social distancing or self-isolating

Person relaxing at home, drinking tea and reading a book looking after their mental health

Please remember, if you need any support the student hub is still here to help. You can reach out to them on 01786466022.

As the world collectively faces an unprecedented and uncertain time, we understand if you are experiencing anxiety, fear, sadness or anger about Coronavirus (COVID – 19), be reassured that these are normal reactions in times of uncertainty. We understand that social distancing and self-isolating can have an impact on your mental health and well-being.

Since the UK moved from the “containment” stage of the coronavirus outbreak to the “delay” stage, the advice on self-isolating at home has changed. For the time being, UK Government advice asks that, where possible, people adopt the practice of social distancing and, if showing possible Coronavirus symptoms, should confine themselves to a period of self isolation.

What is social distancing?

Social distancing measures are steps you can take to reduce the social interaction between people. This will help reduce the transmission of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Everyone should be trying to follow these measures as much as is pragmatic.

  • Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough;
  • Avoid non-essential use of public transport, varying your travel times to avoid rush hour, when possible;
  • Avoid large gatherings, and gatherings in smaller public spaces such as pubs, cinemas, restaurants, theatres, bars, clubs;
  • Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media;
  • Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services;

So, to help ease into the adjustment of practicing social distancing, or if you are currently self-isolating or want to prepare for a possible period of self-isolation, we’ve pulled together some tips for keeping on top of your own mental and physical (you’ll see below the two are closely connected) wellbeing.

So, let’s get started…

Take regular ‘media breaks’

We recognise the importance of staying up to date with current events, especially as the Coronavirus situation evolves so rapidly on a daily or sometimes hourly basis. However, living in this modern, 24-hour-connected age is a double-edged sword, it’s way too easy now to find yourself virtually glued to your phone or computer, constantly refreshing the page to see the next update, stat or rumour.

The advice here is simple, keep yourself abreast with the news but recognise when you find yourself fixated. This takes a bit of honesty with yourself and some self-discipline, but try to take a step back, put the phone down and take up another activity. This will give your mind a reprieve from the news cycle and reduce your anxiety levels. Trust us, your mind will thank you for it.

Bonus tip – Ensure the information you are accessing is from reputable resources. Here are a few to get you started:

Stay connected

Ok, so this might sound counter-intuitive after reading tip 1 but stick with us here. As we stated above, we live in an amazing digital age, an age where the technology in our pockets allow us to connect with loved ones across the globe with almost trivial ease. So, during these challenging times, it’s more important than ever to maintain contact with friends and family, if possible.

From texts and messenger apps, to video calls and actual voice calls (remember those?), strike up a conversation, humans are social creatures and our technology can help bridge the gap in human interaction until things return to normality. Even if you have no problem being on your own and enjoy your own company just fine, is there someone else in your life who may be particularly vulnerable at this time? Now would be the time to check in with them, don’t underestimate the positive impact this can have on others.

Take time to unwind

There’s a number of things you can do to get some more relaxation into your life during this time. Practice breathing exercises to aide relaxation; there are numerous guides on YouTube that walk you through various mindfulness or meditation practices. Why not even take a virtual walk around campus with our ‘Minute of Mindfulness’.

There’s no shortage of ideas to try out, check out these other activities you can do while at home.

Keep active

If you’re able to, taking walks outside in non-crowded spaces is a great way to support your well-being, increasing sunlight exposure, fresh air and movement! Home workouts are also an option. If the gym is part of your regular routine, home workouts are a great alternative! Guided yoga or putting on your favourite music and dancing are all great ways to increase your activity!

Look after your body

Plenty of sleep, plenty of water and eating well are all important. It’s been shown that lacking in any of these areas has a detrimental effect on your immune system. So hit the hay early, fill that water bottle and keep the junk food to reasonable levels (easier said than done, we know). When it comes to well-being, look at your mind and body as a two-way street. For the best results, take the time to take positive steps to ensure your body and your mind are getting the love and attention they need and deserve.

Be productive

Now is a great time to focus on that task in the house that you’ve been putting off. This may also be a great time to learn something new! The internet provides a plethora of information, so get stuck into a topic of interest! Want to learn a language? Go for it. Curious about computer coding? Dive in. Pick up a book, get your house to-do list written up, get creative and see what else you can come up with. It’s important to maintain a structure to your day. Having a set schedule for mealtimes and a set bedtime can help you to stay on track. Planning out activities and setting goals can also help keep you motivated and stop you feeling down.

Help others where you can

If you are in a position and able to help out a neighbour or friend, maybe dropping off a care package, this is also a great way to support your well-being. Of course, you should ensure you are still adhering to the current government advice by practicing social distancing, especially to the more vulnerable and high-risk portion of the population. It’s normal to feel helpless during times like these, but one thing that’s always in your control is how you react. The world needs more positivity during these times, so spread the love where you can.

Taken together, these steps should help you keep your mental health in check as the world navigates through these choppy waters. We’ve also listed below some additional resources you can take a look at for more tips and inspiration on looking after your wellbeing while dealing with the Coronavirus situation.

Please remember, if you need any support the student hub is still here to help. You can reach out to them on 01786466022.

Did these tips help you? If so, please feel free to share if you think these could benefit others. For further information from the university relating to Coronavirus (COVID-19) please see our FAQ page which we will keep regularly updated.

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