Now that most of us are self-isolating due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is more important than ever to practise self-care and look after ourselves. We asked our bloggers and Activists what they’re doing to look after their mental health while they’re staying at home. Here's what they said.
Don't forget the basics
“Look after the basics first; eat regular meals, drink plenty of water, have regular showers and try to get enough sleep. If you can, continue to access therapy or counselling online, or find an online peer support group. Keep taking your meds and use the YoungMinds Textline if you need to.”
- Nikki, 22
Maintain a routine
“Everyone’s different, but I personally cannot cope without a routine or daily plan. Try to set an alarm if you know you oversleep, and force yourself to get up and do something - whether it’s exercise, eating or academia, getting out of bed will help you avoid falling into a slump. Try to get changed to signal to yourself that it’s no longer sleep time (even if it’s just into different pjs - it’s the action itself that helps). It could also be helpful to go for a walk in the fresh air every day to get you out of the house as well as releasing endorphins (you can find the latest government guidance on leaving your home here).”
- Tara, 17
As hard as it can be when you have no deadlines, it is important to try and keep a regular routine.
“As hard as it can be when you have no deadlines, it is important to try and keep a regular routine. Try to wake up and go to sleep at a time that suits you – and stick to the same time every day where possible. It also helps to keep as much from your normal routine as possible; for example, dress in work clothes when the work day begins.”
- Dhyana, 18
Set yourself achievable goals
“Give yourself a goal each day. Having something to aim for will give you a purpose, and mini goals are particularly great in giving yourself a confidence boost.
"It could be something like cooking a meal for whoever you live with, writing a set of flashcards for school, getting around to sorting out your wardrobe or going for a walk (you can find the latest government guidance on leaving your home here). Whatever you do will give you a sense of achievement and will also be beneficial to your body/brain.”
“You don’t have to plan your day to the exact minute. Instead, write out goals, big or small, that you would like to achieve in the day. You can then allocate these tasks to the morning, afternoon or evening. While our usual routines might seem to be out of the window, it is important for our mental wellbeing that we try to maintain a sense of normality in our lives.”
- Elsie, 17
Give yourself a goal each day. Having something to aim for will give you a purpose.
“The day Boris Johnson announced that the UK would have to go into isolation I immediately took to the ‘notes’ section on my phone and saw this as an opportunity to complete things I never would have had the time to do otherwise…A quarantine bucket list if you will.
"I wrote down things I wanted to complete that I’ve been putting off for a while. I wrote down hobbies I wanted to get back into such as drawing and reading, some typical academic goals I wanted to complete such as getting better at maths and finally some health goals like working out and eating two pieces of fruit per day.
"If you are going to write an ‘isolation bucket list’ I would certainly recommend trying to be as ambitious as possible and really digging deep and writing down things you never thought you’d complete.”
- Maya, 14
“I think that the thought of self-isolation can be very daunting, especially if you’re struggling with a mental health condition. For me, the thought of self-isolating is scary as I don’t want the progress that I’ve worked so hard to achieve to unravel.
"During my recovery, I was constantly told to ‘keep myself busy’ and ‘to spend time with friends and family outdoors’ so I’m sure that a lot of you are asking yourself, how will I cope now? Yes it will be challenging, but we still need to KEEP TALKING – FaceTime, phone calls, texting and so many other options exist to make sure that you can keep talking to those that you love. It’s so important to do this and to not shut yourself off from everybody.
"Please try not to panic and just know that there’s always somebody that you can speak to, even if it’s not face to face.”
- Laura, 21
Please try not to panic and just know that there’s always somebody that you can speak to, even if it’s not face to face.
“In the modern world, family/friend time is often neglected. Use this time at home to connect with people you live with, as well as people you haven’t spoken to in a while. You could try family movie nights/jigsaws/board games, or you could look through pictures/videos from your/your family’s past and reminisce on happy memories.
"With a very large proportion of the world at home, it’s the perfect time to video-call or message someone who you’ve been meaning to catch up with. It’s also the perfect excuse for gaming if that’s what you’re into (socialising and keeping busy)!”
“If you reach crisis, please don’t hold back from accessing support. Your life matters and this chaos will pass. Hold on.”
Try to stay active
“Even in your home, keep moving! There are plenty of home workout routines available online that utilise everyday living essentials that you will already have at home. You can also try online yoga classes or just dance to your favourite playlist. Keeping active even in small amounts will do wonders for your emotional wellbeing.”
- Eve, 19
Keeping active even in small amounts will do wonders for your emotional wellbeing.
“You can find lots of home workouts online and I promise that you will feel a lot better after doing them – they will give you energy and they will take your mind away from everything that is happening.”
Try to maintain your regular diet
“Personally, I really struggle with eating when I’m at home doing nothing. I find I don’t get hungry and then I get emotional and can’t manage to get anything done as I’ve not eaten.
"I’m currently in the process of creating a meal plan that I’m going to try my best to stick to. I’m hoping that by planning what to eat, I’ll be able to make sure I look forward to my meals. If you find you’re on the opposite side and binge-eat when at home, meal-planning could help you fill up on balanced meals so you don’t get the urge to snack as much.”
“I definitely recommend trying to eat foods that are nutritious and that will give you energy if possible.”
Practise mindfulness and calming breathing techniques
“There are a range of breathing techniques and mindfulness activities available online and I am a great advocate for these. Headspace is an app that I have used for a long time, which I can recommend. It has a wide range of different exercises to partake in (I find the sleepcasts particularly useful and would recommend these to anyone who struggles to get to sleep when their anxiety levels are high). The NHS website also has many breathing exercises for feelings of stress and anxiety.”
Use the time to develop a new skill
“Being cooped up at home is the perfect time to try that thing you’ve always put off doing. It could be to learn a new language, try a new recipe, get into yoga (there are lots of videos online) or even get better at binge-watching TV (something I struggle with as my attention span maxes out after a couple of episodes)! I’m planning to go through the recipe books at home and create some ‘meal flashcards’ to give me some new inspiration on what to cook, and to try to get used to cooking daily so when normality resumes I can meal-prep lunches to take to school.”
Remember you don’t have to lose weight in this time or start a big new project or learn a new language if you don’t want or feel able to - it’s ok to rest.
...or just rest!
“Remember you don’t have to lose weight in this time or start a big new project or learn a new language if you don’t want or feel able to - it’s ok to rest.”
De-clutter your room
“While the pandemic may leave us feeling out of control, a great way to combat this is to focus on things that you can control. I’m sure that you have come across the phrase ‘tidy room, tidy mind’ a lot in your life, but it is said for a reason! Take this as the perfect opportunity to organise and declutter your living space, and enjoy the sense of satisfaction you get when it is done.”
While the pandemic may leave us feeling out of control, a great way to combat this is to focus on things that you can control.
Balance work and rest
“If it is possible, try to keep work life and home life separate. Use another room with a door preferably, so that when the work day begins, a productive day begins. Then, when your work day ends, you can close the door and enjoy your evening.”
Don't overexpose yourself to the news
“For some, the news and media in general has become a great source of anxiety at the moment, and there is evidence of people either entirely disengaging or developing almost obsessive tendencies around keeping updated and informed. I would suggest trying to find a healthy balance between the two.
"Staying informed is important as it can reduce the levels of uncertainty to an extent. However, try to stick to news and media outlets that don’t sensationalise or scaremonger. Set a small amount of time each day to update on the latest news and make an active effort not to exceed that. It is difficult to control what you see, especially with social media, but it is important to try to look to balanced and responsible sources of information.”
Keep a journal/diary
“This global pandemic is unlike anything known by our generation and is sure to go down in the history books, so why not try to keep a diary or make a daily/weekly vlog? It will give you something to look back on and show the grandkids!”
“Having a way to express your thoughts and feelings is so important, especially if you are self-isolating with little to no company. It is far too easy to be consumed by anxious thoughts and feelings of worry, particularly when it seems like the rest of the world is in a state of panic and it is hard to find calming, rational voices.
"Getting your internal dialogue onto paper can help you feel like you are taking back a little bit of control amid the uncertainty. I often find when I can see my thoughts in a physical form, they feel far less scary and become easier not only to address, but to learn from and let go of in the process.”
Journaling is something that allows you to really process as well as acknowledge all your thoughts and feelings.
“Journaling is something that allows you to really process as well as acknowledge all your thoughts and feelings. As well as writing about daily life, you could take this opportunity to do some self-discovery. Each day you can answer five to ten interesting, ‘deep’ questions that allow you to find out more about yourself, you’ll find that there’s a lot more you never really noticed about yourself. For example, you could list ten things you love about yourself or five things you’re proud of or even a question like why you think you deserve the best in life.”
Find time for mindless activities
“Doing mindless activities once in a while can be helpful to relax and reset your mind. Creative activities like colouring, tie-dye and pottery-making, which don’t require too much brain power can be really calming and fun.”
“I can’t advocate for reading enough. It is something that plays a big part in ensuring my mental health is maintained to a manageable level. Pick something that isn’t going to be triggering for you and allows for a healthy level of escapism. It will keep your mind active, your eyes away from a screen and a time for feelings of anxiety and worry to subside. If reading a book doesn’t feel manageable, try audio books - there are many free ones available online.”
I suggest writing down a list of things that you are grateful for every morning and night as this will keep your spirits up and remind you that everything isn’t all bad, even if it may feel that way sometimes.
Write down things you are grateful for
“I think that thinking positive and noting down things that we are grateful for is a key tip for self-isolation. I suggest writing down a list of things that you are grateful for every morning and night as this will keep your spirits up and remind you that everything isn’t all bad, even if it may feel that way sometimes.
"There are so many things that I am grateful for and I think that reminding ourselves of these things will impact our mental health in such a positive way. I know that everybody isn’t in the same boat and others are having a more difficult time, but we have to keep pushing on and helping others when we can.”
If you are struggling with everything going on right now, take a look at our coronavirus and mental health page for tips and advice on ways to get support.