Now and in the coming months many people are being asked to self-isolate or socially distance.
While these actions are being taken to protect people’s health and the NHS from the effects of Covid-19 / Coronavirus, the psychological impact of being in ‘quarantine’ or withdrawing from our usual social contact can be significant.
Particularly for people in more more ‘vulnerable’ groups who may be asked to significantly change their behaviour for an extended time, there’s a real risk that the psychological aspects of social isolation may significantly affect both mental and physical health.
Our team performance psychologist and mindset coach Melissa Uppal offers some ideas to help you cope.
1. CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE AND YOUR LANGUAGE
The words you will use – when talking to others or even just talking to yourself internally – will either minimize or maximize stress.
Try to stop using phrases like “it’s a nightmare” or “the end of the world”.
Your mind will accept these words as reality and not be able find a solution.
2. MAKE TIME TO RELAX
Focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t. Don’t assume that just because you’re at home or not taking part in your usual activities that you will be ‘relaxed’.
Take time to actively relax your mind and body. Activities such as slow-paced yoga, simple stretches, guided meditation or mindfulness and relaxation audios can help to stimulate the body’s ‘rest and digest’ responses. This helps to reduce the feelings of stress and its impact on your body and mind.
3. LIMIT AND FILTER YOUR NEWS CONSUMPTION
It is important to obtain accurate and timely public health information regarding COVID-19 but too much exposure to media coverage of the virus – particularly ‘fake news’ and sensationalist media coverage – can lead to increase feelings of fear and anxiety.
Balance time spent on news and social media with other activities and choose your information sources widely.
Consider signing up to email updates from the government here
4. STAY CONNECTED
Even if you’re at home or socially isolating, you may be able to call, text, or facetime people. Take the opportunity to contact people you may not have spoken to for some time.
Sharing feelings of love and kindness can help us feel happy and appreciated, especially in isolation. Spread love to others who may be struggling with similar difficulties.
5. TALK ABOUT IT
A problem shared is a problem halved. Step away from conversations that are fueling your fear, but it is good to talk to those close to you if you feel your worries are getting the better of you.
Knowing that others are in the same situation and that your feelings are ‘normal’ (even if not very pleasant) can help you to keep things in perspective.
6. LOOK AFTER YOURSELF
Acts of self-care will help you to stay positive and reduce stress.
Find an activity that benefits your well-being. Try to do one thing each day – home exercise, going for a long walk, reading a book or watching an uplifting film.
When to reach out for additional support
We are living through events that are unprecedented in our lifetime. Depending on your circumstances and your underlying mental health you may begin to feel that you are not coping well. Whilst it’s difficult to say what ‘normal’ is in these circumstances it may help you to know that it’s ‘natural’ if you feel some pretty strong feelings.
If you really feel that your mental or physical health are suffering please reach out for help. Consider:
Contact your GP but be aware that NHS resources are likely to be very overstretched
Mental health charities like MIND
Helplines operated by organisations like Age UK, Silver Line or helplines tailored to your situation
Local support – a lot of local communities in the UK are setting up Coronavirus community support groups on facebook
Reach out to friends, family or neighbours
Look for counselling support online for example via the BACP website
We have psychologists and emotional wellness coaches in the clinic and we are also offering telephone appointments at this time so please do get in touch with us by phone 01926 801111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: this article is intended as general advice and does not constitute or replace the need to obtain individual advice and recommendations from a suitably-qualified healthcare professional.