There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has brought about additional worries, many of which have no real answers. For those who already suffer from mental or chronic illness controlling our anxiety can seem like an impossible task. When you’re forcefully placed in the arms of uncertainty things can begin to feel out of control.
I’m no stranger to isolation. Before COVID-19 hit I’d just stepped back into the workplace after a year of being deemed unable to work. Instead of returning to the pressure of health and safety, I was working in a local grocery store. It was tough making the transition but I was finally able to get out among people within my own community. I was able to break the isolation I’d felt for over a year, trapped in a tiny village, miles from home and with no friends or family nearby. Now I’d made friends that I could count on, people I could say hello to as I walked by. It was a far cry from my former life but I was proud of myself all the same.
But just weeks after stepping into my uniform, COVID-19 struck. Without warning, I was thrown back into a world where I was largely by myself. Being socially anxious meant that phone calls and video chats, although fantastic ways of communication, were hard to cope with. And then there was the prospect of not receiving face to face mental health support for an undetermined amount of time. How would I cope without weekly weigh-ins? What if my weight either dropped too low or skyrocketed due to lower activity levels? Then there was the initial realization that I could get ill and, if I did, the possibility of recovery was slim.
How to maintain your mental health during the lockdown.
01. Keep in touch with the outside world.
Isolation can easily lead to an onset of depression and hopelessness, both of which can be debilitating. It’s important that we remember that we’re not alone! Everyone is bound to be feeling the pinch of loneliness, even if they are isolating with loved ones.
But the 21st century is a wonderful thing! We can contact our loved ones in pretty much any way possible, from snail-mail to live video chat! Provided your granny knows how, why not give her a Wattsapp video call?
02. Now is the time to enjoy your hobbies or discover new ones!
Enjoy reading? Pick up a few new books from Amazon for your Kindle. If you’re into painting why not order a few canvases and start your next masterpiece? Now is the time to fall back in love with your hobbies. Who knows, maybe you’ll get crafty and take up crochet or knitting?
03. Practice self-care as much as possible.
Run yourself a bubble bath, place the laptop safely out of harm’s way and hit play on your favourite Netflix show. Hell, pop on a facemask while you’re at it!
Note: If you have any curious felines, kids or partners ensure that you keep the door locked for maximum relaxation! [Unless you want your partner present! There’s no judgment here.]
04. Keep a ‘worry’ journal.
I’ve been journalling using Evernote over the last few days. Instead of worrying about my handwriting or trying to think up a well-structured post, I’ve just been typing all my worries onto a document that no one else will ever see. There’s no pressure to be perfect (although my mind will tell me otherwise). It’s really helped me unravel some of the bigger issues floating around in my skull such as those which are financial and weight-related.
05. Remember your helplines.
Please, please, please remember to reach out for help when you no longer feel that you can cope on your own.
- Samaritans – 116 123 [0330 094 5717 for those in Nothern Ireland].
- Shout – You can text them on 85258.
- Sane Line – 0300 304 7000 (4:30pm – 10:30pm every evening).
- BEAT – 0808 801 0677.
If you feel unsafe or unable to keep yourself safe please call 999 (or your equivalent) for emergency medical assistance or go to A&E. Even in the current climate, it’s important that we remember that we deserve help just like anyone else. Yes, times are tough for the hospitals but don’t hesitate to call if you genuinely feel you need to.
If you have any other helplines you would like me to add, including those from different countries, please feel free to get in touch in the comments.
Above all else remember to stay safe during these difficult times. Self-isolate if you need to and look out for those who are vulnerable in your life. You may be feeling antsy and eager for a barbeque in that lovely weather, but keep it among you and your family. DO NOT attend or host any gatherings with anyone outside your own home.
Stay home and stay safe.