For now, the world as we know it has changed, with the Coronavirus completely turning our lives upside down.
Many of us have been told to stay at home and avoid social contact, which is a deeply unnatural practice for us humans, as we are such social people and enjoy human contact. But of course, it is essential that we follow these guidelines to help keep us all safe and well.
The Coronavirus pandemic is something we have never encountered before, so it is only natural that a lot of us are struggling with stress, anxiety or depression.
Being isolated from society will leave many struggling with their mental health but help is at hand as many organisations have offered guidelines that will help combat the stress and strains of our new way of living.
Below we have put together nine practices that you can follow to help maintain good mental health and wellbeing during the Coronavirus lockdown.
Maintain community and social connection
As already mentioned, as humans we are fundamentally social creatures and staying connected with friends and loved ones is essential to our mental health.
Luckily in today's society of social media, Skype, Facetime and other online platforms keeping in touch couldn’t be easier.
Now texting and social media interaction is good but picking up that phone to have a chat will mean more and video calling friends and family will give you the chance to see people ‘in the flesh’ which is something we will all be missing. Even having a chat with your neighbour, at a safe distance, of course, will help lift your spirits.
Making sure you stay in touch with friends is also important, so get on your game consoles and play along in a group, you’ve never had a better excuse!
Have a routine, as much as possible
We all know how important it is to have a routine, especially for children.
With schools closed, many people working from home or those who are simply staying at home, it could be quite easy to forget routine. However, studies show that keeping to some sort of routine, as much as possible, is actually much better for everyone's mental health.
Try to keep a balance between having a routine and making sure that you have variety in your day.
If you are finding the change hard, build yourself a new routine, get yourself up, eat and do familiar things that will help you feel more in control of your new situation.
Think about making a To-Do list, so that you can tick off jobs when they are done, giving yourself that feeling of achievement.
Have a declutter of your home
Take the extra time you have to declutter, clean or organise things in your home. A clutter-free environment leads to a clutter-free mind.
It also gives you a sense of control in what is a time of uncertainty and offers your mind, body and soul a break from traumatic stress.
Don’t however become obsessed about cleaning and tidying, because there really is only so much you can do.
Think of taking up a hobby that will occupy your mind
If you love being ‘arty’, be creative. This is a great distraction that will help to keep you grounded in a time where your mind could be working overtime.
If you love keeping fit, think about taking up a new form of exercise. Yoga and Tai-Chi are great for both physical and mental health and need very little space to perform at home.
It is important to do things that make you happy, to help you stay positive over the coming weeks and months.
Exercise, indoors or outside
Exercise plays an important role when it comes to mental health as it increases the production of Dopamine - the “feel good” chemical in the brain.
When the weather is good get yourself outside where possible. Although activities such as jogging or cycling are not permitted, walking your dog is, so take your pooch out for a nice brisk walk and try to hit those magic 10,000 steps per day to stay fit and healthy.
Exercising indoors is just as effective when it comes to our well being.
Any form of exercise, whether it be high intensity, aerobics or dance and even if it’s only for 10 to 15 minutes, will help reduce anxiety and depression, allowing you to have a clearer mind.
Meditate, or just breathe
Meditation is not only a great way to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression but can even increase the volume of certain areas of the brain.
It has been proven that it can help individuals not only sleep better and cope with common symptoms of mental disorders, such as the above mentioned but it can also reduce some of the psychological difficulties associated with chronic pain and can even help improve some cognitive and behavioural functions.
Any form of mindfulness has been proven to be very effective when it comes to looking after our mental health and wellbeing.
If meditation isn’t however for you, slow breathing might be.
Deep, slow breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in our bodies. When we breathe deeply, a message is sent to our brain telling us to calm down and relax and then our body responds to that message.
Any form of breathing exercise is a good way to relax, reduce tension and relieve stress.
Help others from a distance
Helping, or being of service to others is one of the best things you can do to help society in these hours of need.
Studies have repeatedly shown that even offering a small act of kindness has strong and immediate mental health benefits. It also gives us a sense of purpose, which is great in helping with our mindset.
Many organisations and charities are crying out for help, so get online and see what you can find that will suit you personally.
Learn to be grateful
Now, this isn’t easy to do in these trying times, especially if you have lost work, or been ill due to the pandemic surrounding us all.
Practising gratitude for what we do have though can be hugely beneficial to our mental health. Studies have shown that by writing down five things we are grateful for, once a week, is massively linked to increasing our well being.
So even if times are challenging for you right now, try writing down some of the things you are thankful for the most.
If you have children, think about sitting down as a family and talk about what makes you happy in your life.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
This is probably the most important thing to remember. When things aren’t going ‘perfectly’ in your household, do not beat yourself up about it!
There is no point being upset with yourself as it is absolutely counterproductive.
So what if your children have watched too much TV, or played too many video games, is it really the end of the world?
Unfortunately, things are going to be a bit tough for all of us in the coming weeks or months, and if your new schedule doesn't go to plan, it’s really not such a big deal in the grand scheme of things.
Cut yourself some slack and remember, we are all in this together and we will at some point, come out the other side.