Looking after your mental health and wellbeing

Friday 24th April 2020

woman sat on bench readingFor the majority of us this past month, day-to-day life has drastically changed. Coronavirus has altered what normal means as many of us continue to adapt to life indoors as best as we can.

The emotions this can cause, from feeling alone to feeling anxious about the threat of coronavirus and what it will mean for the future, can unsurprisingly affect our mental health. We are no longer able to spend as much physical time with others, and this can have a real impact on our ability to manage these feelings and stay grounded and connected.

Looking after your own mental health can sometimes fall down your list of priorities, particularly during this difficult time. But taking a few minutes for yourself each day can really help develop your emotional strength and an underlying belief in yourself and others.

To help you get started, Mind has highlighted Five Ways to Wellbeing which can help you look after your mental health. You of course don’t have to attempt all of them, but just trying one or two a day only takes a few moments of your time and can make the world of difference.

Please remember, that if you’re struggling, we are here for you. You can contact our SEWS team and they can help with a range of issues. If you’d prefer to speak to someone else, there are many organisations and charities you can also reach out to.

Connect

Keeping in touch and socialising with family, friends and colleagues is vital to your mental health, particularly at a time when many of us are physically separated. Speaking to someone can lift your spirits, and just one conversation can make a huge difference to someone’s day (including your own!).

Connect with others by…

  • Sharing mealtimes with those you are self-isolating with.
  • Talking to someone over the phone or video calling instead of sending an email.
  • Chatting to a neighbour over the garden fence or balcony.
  • Asking how someone’s weekend was and really listening when they tell you.
  • Putting five minutes of your time aside to find out how someone is feeling and how they’re coping.

Stay healthy

You may not realise it, but you can help your mental health and wellbeing by looking after your physical health. Regular physical activity can help to reduce rates of depression and anxiety and particular foods can have a positive effect on your mood.

Look after your diet by…

  • Eating a balanced diet and having regular meals and snacks.
  • Avoid foods which make your blood sugar rise and fall rapidly, such as sweets, biscuits, sugary drinks, and alcohol. Instead, turn to slow-release energy foods such as pasta, rice, oats, wholegrain bread and cereals, nuts and seeds if you can find them in your local shops.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, 5-6 glasses a day. Water is a cheap and healthy option!

If you can, stay active by…

  • Walking wherever you can in line with government guidance – preferably with whoever you might be self-isolating with so that you can connect at the same time as well.
  • If you have to take public transport for your essential food shops and you don’t have too much shopping, get off one stop earlier than usual and walk the final part of your journey.
  • Stretching or doing yoga each day. There are lots of YouTube videos out there that can help.
  • If you have a disability or long-term health condition, the NHS have some great advice on finding a physical activity that can work for you.

Take notice

Take some time to enjoy the moment and the environment around you. It can not only help make you feel better, but also give you time to think about your priorities and enable you to make positive life choices.

You can do this in small ways by…

  • Getting a plant for your home.
  • Having a ‘clear the clutter’ day.
  • Taking notice of how your family and friends are feeling or acting.
  • Taking a different route on your journey to the shops.
  • Taking a few minutes to look out of your window and notice what is going on around you.

Learn

Learning something new or improving your subject knowledge can enhance your self-esteem and encourage social interaction. By being a Bloomsbury Institute student (although only virtually at the moment!), you should already have this one nailed.

If you have time, you can supplement your own personal growth and learning by…

  • Setting yourself goals and deadlines to work towards. This could be for an assignment or a hobby.
  • Learning a new skill or developing an existing skill e.g. learning a new language or experimenting with new recipes to extend your range of cooking skills.
  • Taking the time to teach others and share your knowledge. If someone on your course is struggling with an aspect of a module or assignment, why not try giving them a call to help them?

Give

This last area is often overlooked but can have the most impact on yourself and others. Think back to when you last helped someone and how uplifted you felt afterwards.

That’s because there is a proven link between committing acts of kindness and an increase in personal wellbeing.

You’ll know better than others how you can practise kindness – what do you feel passionately about? But if you’re struggling you can start by…

  • Doing one act of kindness a day – it could be something as simple as making a cup of tea for someone you live with.
  • Taking an interest in the people around you especially those who may appear in need of practical or emotional support.
  • Checking in on an elderly neighbour to see if they need any help with shopping or collecting prescriptions.
  • Phoning a family member or friend you never get round to calling.

And if you’re feeling really confident, you can….

  • Raise money to support the NHS or charities.