We’re living in unprecedented times. Due to the outbreak of coronavirus, we’ve seen a huge increase in anxiety and poor mental health in Dorset. The Government has taken steps to enforce isolation and social distancing in the wake of the virus. We’ve witnessed empty supermarket shelves and uncertainty about what our future will hold as the whole country is affected by these measures. It’s normal to feel confused, stressed, scared or angry.
But wherever possible, try to remain positive and take conscious steps to manage your wellbeing. Focus on what we can do rather than dwell on what we can’t. It will help us get through the next few months.
When your world is disrupted, it can take a while to get used to a new routine. Don’t compare yourself to others, try to follow your usual routine as closely as possible if that suits you. Get up and get dressed as you usually would. Create a timetable or plan, schedule activities for different days of the week to differentiate them. If you work from home, it’s important to make sure your workspace is comfortable and well lit. Don’t forget to make time to relax too – ensure you keep to clear boundaries between work and downtime. If you live with other people, respect their privacy and need for space.
Self-isolation is challenging; whether you share a house with someone, live with family members, or alone. Ensure you eat well and drink plenty of water. Try to vary what you eat so you look forward to it. Plan ahead, and use what you have in your cupboards to avoid shopping where possible. The ritual of savouring a hot drink can be comforting when we take the time to enjoy a coffee or a tea.
It’s important more than ever to get the right amount of sleep. Don’t worry if you’re not getting a full eight hours of sleep, the focus should be on quality and not quantity. Try to go to sleep at a regular time each night. Make sure your bedroom is well ventilated and welcoming. Your phone should not be in the room if you can help it! Use an old-fashioned alarm clock if you need to wake at a certain time, or ask someone to make sure you are awake.
It’s important whilst following Government or Public Health England’s guidelines, to try to get outside. Daylight is so important for our wellbeing and circadian rhythm. If you don’t have a garden or open space nearby, make sure your windows and blinds are fully open at home – and try to exercise around the house. Use housework; dancing to music, online workouts or seated exercises to keep yourself moving. It will have a positive, uplifting effect on your mood.
It’s important to connect with people you trust. There are so many ways of keeping in contact now, although it doesn’t fully replace face-to-face contact. Listen to the radio, pick up the phone; or use FaceTime or Skype when you need to see someone. If you’re feeling anxious, limit your social interactions; your friends and family will understand this if you explain how you feel. The majority of messages or emails don’t have to be answered immediately; in most cases they don’t require a prompt answer and rushing to answer them can heighten your stress levels.
There are plenty of things you can find online to help keep yourself busy, but consider using this ‘gift of time’ to find or rediscover a hobby. Why not learn a new language, try a new recipe, make a puzzle or paint a picture? You can get lost in a book, watch your favourite films, TV series; or listen to a podcast. Getting immersed in a hobby that utilises your hands to make something can be very beneficial as you fully concentrate on what you’re creating. Did you know that knitting is said to be the most mindful pastime?
Meditation and mindfulness are two methods we can recommend that help with anxiety. Find a quiet place to sit or lie down. Concentrate on your breathing and push your worries to the back of your mind. Try to let go of things that are not serving you. Acknowledge your thoughts but choose to let them go. If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, meditation can help give some relief. Grounding techniques and practising gratitude are other methods that can help you.
It’s incredibly easy to distract yourself online. But you can waste hours scrolling feeds that can be better spent. Remember that not everything we see online is trustworthy. Get the facts – check the source of your information – and limit your time on screen. We would advise deleting news apps from your phone and watch it just once a day. You can also turn off your notifications to avoid information overload.
It’s normal in times like these for our emotions to be extremely erratic. One day can be completely different to the following one, but it’s worth remembering that difficult times will pass. And we will get through this.
Dorset Mind is committed to helping local people with their mental health. The charity believes that no-one in Dorset should face a mental health problem alone or without respect. That’s why they have replaced their face-to-face support for both adults and young people with online and phone options.
Find out more on Dorset Mind’s website: dorsetmind.uk.