Top tips to help look after your mental health

These simple steps can help you lift your mood, manage your stress levels and enjoy your time at home…


With the coronavirus spreading across the UK and a lockdown in place to slow its progress, anxiety levels are understandably high. We all want to help but staying at home presents its own challenges and it can have a negative impact on your mental health, so we’ve put together a handy guide to help you keep your spirits up and adjust to our new normal.

1. Practice mindfulness

With so much uncertainty in the world right now, it’s understandable if you’re feeling stressed or worried, but these feelings can have a negative impact on your mental health, so it’s important to find a way to cope. That’s where mindfulness comes in.

Mindfulness is a technique that helps you be present in the moment. It’s a way to identify your thoughts and feelings, so they don’t overwhelm you and it begins with meditation. There are loads of resources to help you begin your mindfulness journey. Try the Be Mindful course from the NHS or start a free trial of Headspace to see how you get on.

2. Keep yourself busy

With your social life on hold and your friends holed up at home, you’ve probably got a lot more time on your hands than usual. And if you can’t work from home, you’ll have a whole day to fill. It’s easy to dwell on negative thoughts when you’re twiddling your thumbs, so try to keep busy.

There are loads of things you can do while you’re at home and we don’t just mean watching re-runs of Friends. Why not start a project? You could clear out the garage, organise your wardrobe or give your bedroom a lick of paint. Not only will this help to fill your day, but it will also give you a sense of accomplishment, so you don’t feel your time at home is wasted.

3. Stay close to nature

Got a touch of cabin fever? The longer you stay inside, the more you’ll want to go out. It can become almost claustrophobic when you’re stuck inside all day, but while you can’t go far, you can always enjoy your garden.

Spending time in nature can help improve your mood, reduce your stress levels and help you relax, so you’ll instantly feel better. If you don’t have a garden or if you’re in self-isolation, you could try growing plants inside or positioning yourself somewhere that you can look out of the window.

4. Do some exercise

It would be all too easy to spend your days on the sofa, but if you’re feeling down, a little exercise could be just what you need. It releases chemicals in the brain that lift your mood, giving you a quick pick-me-up just when you need it. It will also help you sleep, give you more energy and keep your heart healthy.

Healthy adults should aim for 150 minutes a week, which might feel hard now that you’re confined to your home, but you’d be surprised how easy it is. There are loads of free workouts online – you could do Yoga with Adrienne, HIIT training with MadFit or kickboxing with POPSUGAR Fitness. Short on time? Try the 7 Minute Workout app for a quick endorphin hit.

5. Stay connected

Our lives are filled with social interactions. It’s not just meeting friends for coffee or catching up over dinner, we speak to people in the supermarket, bump into people in the street and chat to the taxi driver on the way. All these little interactions disappear when you stay at home and it can be a shock to the system.

It’s important to have meaningful connections with people, not just quick texts or emails. Cast your net wide, create a circle of friends to speak to regularly and pick up the phone, or even better, arrange a video call. Don’t be afraid to tell people when you feel lonely, it’s good to talk and there’s nothing to be ashamed of – we all get lonely sometimes.

6. Stay informed

The coronavirus is all anyone’s talking about. It’s on the news, in the papers and all over the web – but all that doom and gloom can get on top of you, especially when you’re holed up at home. There’s a lot of speculation and conjecture out there, so if it’s getting a bit much, consider limiting yourself to a few trusted sources.

You’ll find the latest updates on the COVID-19 response at the gov.uk coronavirus webpages. Want to know how to protect yourself and what to do if you feel unwell? Take a look at the NHS coronavirus webpage.

7. Make time for yourself

On the flipside, if you’re sharing a house with people, you might find yourself becoming more irritable or snappy. You’re probably not used to spending so much time together and it can be a little overwhelming.

Plan to spend time together and time apart, so you can find a balance. You might want to have a family meeting to agree on boundaries or create a safe place where people can go when they need time to themselves. Thinking about these measures now will help you to avoid squabbles in the future, so the sooner you do it the better.

8. Find a routine

Staying at home will have a big impact on your life. Suddenly, your plans have been cancelled, your diary’s empty and your social life is in the gutter – you don’t even need to get up at the same time for work, because you’re not going anywhere.

Finding a routine will help to give you purpose and make your time at home more bearable. Think about what you want to do when – schedule calls and video chats ahead, so you have something to look forward to, and think about what you can do to fill your time.

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