COVID-19: Our Mental Health
Some suggestions from the Oxford Anxiety Disorders and Trauma Group
In the current stressful situation, it is important that we pay attention to mental health as well as physical health. We are lucky to count on some of the world’s leading authorities – including our Anxiety Disorders and Trauma Group – in understanding and treating anxiety disorders. We have asked them to give us suggestions for how to look after our mental well-being during these stressful and uncertain times.
Here are some tips that may help you manage very understandable anxiety and worry:
Take recommended precautions
We all need to take the precautions recommended by Government and the NHS in order to reduce transmission and protect the vulnerable, even if we think we are not particularly vulnerable ourselves. There is quite a bit of fake news circulating on social media. Go to trusted websites for advice such as Gov.UK and NHS UK.
BUT avoid spending most of your time searching for updates and news
In such a situation it is tempting to keep checking your phone and searching the web/ social media for news and updates. That is unnecessary and likely to generate more anxiety and worry. Instead you may want to plan to check at specific times, perhaps just once or twice a day.
If you are working from home, try to continue with your projects and routines, at a pace that works for you. If you find yourself with much more spare time than usual, think of creating some new routines or activities. Are there books you always wanted to read but haven’t got around to? Films? Photos to organize? Recipes you haven’t tried? Painting, drawing, etc. Choose things that are meaningful to you.
Some people may find it more difficult to get going in the morning. Keeping normal basic routines like getting up at a specific time, showering, getting dressed etc, can help.
Look after yourself
Eat healthily and regularly, consider moderating alcohol intake, get plenty of sleep, and exercise. All of these are good for the immune system and tend to help mood as well. Of course, social isolation means not going to gyms or exercising in groups but an exercise routine at home, in the garden (if you have one), or in a largely empty park is feasible. There are many home exercise videos available on You-tube. Some gyms have their own virtual instructors. In stressful times, some of us can become self-critical. You’ve got enough burdens without that. Be kind to yourself. If you live with others, remember they are also under stress and try not to personalize any irritating actions.
Become MORE socially connected
We have to physically distance ourselves from others, but we are social beings. Compensate by reaching out to friends and colleagues using social media, phone calls, Facetime, Skype, Zoom etc. This will combat the loneliness we can feel when physically isolated. Create regular ways of linking with your work colleagues even if you are all working from home. Maybe a daily group video conference? Consider creating a WhatsApp, Slack or other social media group.
Be Kind to Others
Kindness is a double blessing. It makes the person who receives a kind act feel better and it makes you feel better for doing it.
Please go to our COVID-19 Resources page to see our full list of resources, but a few helpful ones are below:
- Every Mind Matters https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/
- Anxiety UK https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/blog/health-and-other-forms-of-anxiety-and-coronavirus/
- OCD-UK https://www.ocduk.org/ocd-and-coronavirus-top-tips/
- World Health Organization https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/mental-health-considerations.pdf?sfvrsn=6d3578af_8
- Mind https://www.mind.org.uk/information- support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America Coronavirus Anxiety: Helpful Tips & Resources