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How to look after your mental health when staying at home

Kitty Underwood

By Kitty Underwood Published 26 March 2020

I think if we can all agree on one thing it’s that it’s a strange time right now! Pretty much everyone’s normal routines and normal ways of life have been totally disrupted and in times like these it’s really important to take special care to look after your mental health!

We’ve put together a list of some of the best tips from mental health charities Mind and Mental Health Foundation as well as the NHS to help you stay happy and healthy while you’re staying home.

Stay connected with people

Wicked at West End LIVE 2019 (Photo: Pamela Raith)

Just because you have to stay at home doesn’t mean you can’t socialise! It’s really important to stay connected through all of this – whether this is messaging, phoning, video calls or just carving out some quality time with the people you live with.

Stay in touch with the people you usually see often – friends, family, colleagues – and try to create online versions of the thing you’d normally do. You could watch a film together, set up a virtual book club or even exercise together over video chat.

It’s also a great time to reach out to old friends and family you don’t talk to as much. Lots of people have a bit more time on their hands, and they may be having a hard time too, so reaching out could help you both!

Create a new daily routine

Louise Redknapp as Violet Newstead in 9 To 5 The Musical. Photo by Simon Turtle.

If your normal 9-to-5 has been moved to your home or suspended completely, it can feel like your sense of structure has disappeared. Try and stick to your normal routine as much as possible – get up and go to bed at the same time, have your meals at the same time and try to keep exercising when you normally would.

Even if you’re not working, make a new routine that helps you look after yourself. Make sure you’re including all the meals and exercise that you need, and try to get up, washed and dressed every day, even if you’re not going anywhere.

It might help to write down a plan for the day – this can especially help if you’re trying to plan activities with kids!

Get as much sunlight, fresh air and nature as you can

Zizzi Strallen, Charlie Stemp and Company in Mary Poppins. Photo by Johan Persson.

Okay, I know this one sounds silly, but it’s important to make sure you’re getting the benefits of sun, air and nature even if your time outside is limited. While we can go outside for essentials and to exercise it’s important to try and do so.

If you live in the countryside or near a park that’s still open, a walk or a run alone or with others in your household is a great way to clear your head and get some fresh air.

Get as much natural light as you can – spend time in your garden if you have one or even just sit on your doorstep for a bit and soak in the sun.

You can still get plenty of sunlight, fresh air and nature indoors! Especially now the weather’s looking brighter, open the curtains when you get up and open the windows to let fresh air in.

If you’ve got a green thumb (or always wanted one) now’s a great time to try and grow some herbs or plants indoors too.

Make sure you’re healthy

Kate Prince: The ZooNation Dance Company

Our physical health can really affect our mental health. Make sure you’re eating healthy, balanced meals and staying hydrated.

Stay active! If you can’t get out, you could always blast some musical tunes and give your home a spring clean or just have a boogie around your room (we cannot be held responsible for annoyed housemates/ family/ pets). You could also try out one of the NHS’s 10-minute workouts that you can do anywhere.

Talk about it!

If you’re feeling anxious or stressed about the situation, it can really help to talk about what you’re experiencing. Lots of people are feeling the same at the moment so it can help everyone feel less alone. Sometimes just saying things out loud can make them immediately seem less scary or overwhelming.

If you don’t want to talk to someone you know, the NHS has this useful list of helplines which can offer support and advice.

If you’re looking after children, make sure you’re giving them spaces to talk about their worries, too. Mental Health Foundation have put together some advice on how to talk to children about what’s going on.

Try to manage how you’re following the news

There is so much coverage about the coronavirus in the news at the moment and that can be overwhelming. While it is important to stay informed about government and health advice, the sheer amount of content out there can feel like too much.

Make sure you fact check anything you read about the outbreak with reliable sources. The NHS website and fact-checking charity Full Fact are good places to start.

If you find yourself getting anxious or stressed or just spending too much time reading about coronavirus online, it might be a good idea to turn off notifications for certain news or social media apps.

Do things you enjoy

Matilda The Musical at Cambridge Theatre (Photo: Manuel Harlan)

Just because we have to stay at home doesn’t mean the world has to stop! Set aside special time to do things that you enjoy, whether that’s reading, watching TV, drawing or chatting with friends.

If you can’t do your favourite activities or hobbies inside, then it might be a good opportunity to learn something new!

If you have plans for special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries then make sure you still do something to celebrate!

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